Pricci's Free Daily Feature Race Analysis

Five days per week and every racing day during the Saratoga meet, John Pricci will provide horse racing selections of that day's feature race. When the racing schedule dictates otherwise, there will be analysis from other major thoroughbred Tracks. Check back here 5 days a week for free horse racing selections.

In addition to his race analysis, John will provide commentary in a weekly "On the Line" column and daily blogs under the "Pricci's Morning Line" banner.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Yet Another Interesting Overnight Stakes at Belmont Park

It’s not hard to appreciate Belmont Park. Yesterday, an entertaining overnight stakes. Today, the same thing, only older fillies and mares will move to the turf at 1-1/16 miles for the Steal A Kiss, for non-winners of a graded turf stakes in 2006-2007. Entertaining, and tough.

It has drawn a limit field and four females loom largest in here, from the inside out; Meribel, Fantastic Shirl, Redaspen and Jade Queen. Here’s a look:

Meribel is the likely post time favorite and most probable winner. She made her four-year-old debut in an ungraded Breeders’ Cup event at Calder and finished strongly between horses late for fourth, beaten just over a length. The effort represented a new lifetime top, but not a dramatic one, making a pair-up today highly likely. That effort would be good enough to handle the group and trainer Christophe Clement retains regular rider Garrett Gomez.

Fantastic Shirl is highly likely to improve off her last. While not as fast as Meribel, she was toughened up in the recent Grade 2 Jenny Wiley on Polytrack, now returns to her preferred surface with sufficient rest for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, white hot in New York the last few weeks. Coming off a mini-layup for her latest, she usually runs better second time off a break. Edgar Prado rides her back.

Redaspen has some excellent back-figures and could upset the group at generous odds. Making her second start off a layup, she has proven to be somewhat of a specialist, having gone 3-for-5 on turf at this distance and 3-for-14 trying anything else. Regular rider Victor Molina ships up with the Maryland-based filly for the ride.

Jade Queen might hold a class edge on the group. She has a good record in tough company and a versatile running style. The fresh Todd Pletcher trainee should be part of the pace throughout beneath stable rider John Velazquez. Her figures are competitive and with the maturity gained as a four-year-old this year, she can take her game to the next level. A terrific horserace.

Taking Meribel to win at 2-1 or greater and keying her first and second in trifectas with Fantastic Shirl, Redaspen and Jade Queen. (At 10-1 or more, we will have a small saver wager to win on longshot Redaspen).

Running Totals: (21) 8-6-5 [does not reflect Wednesday’s results]. ROI: (win selections only) $52.60.

Written by John Pricci

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tricky Ogygian Could Offer Value

An interesting feature to start to racing week, the Ogygian, a $65,000 overnight stakes that will showcase several talented sprinting sophomores at the hybrid distance of 6-˝ furlongs. Virtually any of the six entrants can win. We’ll concentrate on half of them.

Cherokee Country (7-2) has something going for him that no other horse has; he’s a specialist, winning both lifetime starts at this difficult distance. Further, his last effort was the best figure on the page. The concerns are that he returns on relatively short rest off a career best try and draws the pole. The good news is that he as the right style, a kick that will help off what promises to be a very solid pace.

Silver Source (5-2) makes his first start for Dick Dutrow, making him the most eligible to improve, as Dutrow is 29% effective with new acquisitions. He’s turning back a half-furlong off the 7-furlong Aventura Stakes at Gulfstream and attracts Edgar Prado. He has tactical speed and can finish.

Sports Town (5-1) offers good value at early line odds, is well drawn outside in a short field, and owns position-speed and kick. He’s been working strongly for several weeks and picks up Garrett Gomez, who’s especially effective with this kind of runner.

Trips very often determines the outcome of a race but no more so than in a small field when many of the horses own a similar style and talented riders are not prone to making mistakes. We’ll opt for position and, hopefully, get good value, too.

Taking Sports Town to win at 3-1 or greater, keying him in exactas and trifectas with Cherokee Country and Silver Source.

Running Totals: (21) 8-6-5 ROI (win selections only): $52.60

Written by John Pricci

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mom, Put Your Money On Dave

The Mother’s Day feature at Belmont Park is the nine-furlong Kingston Stakes for New York breds on the inner turf course. The race drew it’s customary large, competitive group. We’ve narrowed it down to three principal contenders.

Dave (5-1) makes his season’s debut for Barclay Tagg, adept with returnees off a lengthy layoff. Nicely drawn inside, Dave has tactical and late speed and in John Velazquez a rider who knows how to gain position, work out a beneficial trip from an inside slip, and time the move perfectly. Dave handles the turf course and the distance well.

Certifiably Crazy owns the best performance figures and is a tactical speedster. He likes the Belmont turf course and is versatile at any two-turn distance. The problem for him is that he has a speed horse directly to his inside him and he might be forced to chase the pace at the loss of some ground. In that context, he’s a poor percentage play.

Golden Commander is the early line favorite at 5-2 and just missed in an open class graded stakes, a much tougher test than he faces here. But a short price, a compromising outside post, and returning on short rest is not a sensible percentage play, either. Further, he’s only 1-for-13 on the Belmont turf.

Taking Dave to win at 4-1 or greater, and keying him first and second in exactas with Certifiably Crazy and Golden Commander.

Running Totals: (20) 8-6-4. ROI: $52.60.

Written by John Pricci

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