Pricci's Free Daily Feature Race Analysis

Whenever his daily work schedule permits, HorseRaceInsider executive editor John Pricci will analyze that day's feature race from a major thoroughbred-racing jurisdiction.

Friday, October 24, 2008

All Hail Zenyatta

Our analysis of the feature race today, from Santa Anita Park.

Ladies Classic, Nine Furlongs

The great television host Harvey Pack was always fond of saying “never bet a horse to do anything it hasn’t done before as the favorite.” Which is a convoluted way of saying bet against Zenyatta at your peril. The one thing she’s never done is lose. By definition the fastest horse, her figures are superior, she gets over the Pro-Ride better than any other synthetic surface, says the man on her back, her deep run style has never been compromised no matter how slowly her rivals try to back down the pace, and she’s coming off a “soft win” pattern, meaning her Lady’s Secret score was the perfect prep. Between Hysterical Lady, Ginger Punch and Bear Now breaking from the outside, the pace, if not fast, will be contested, enough to tip the scales in favor of the shortest-price favor over the two days of the event. She won her prep with disdainful ease and worked brilliantly since.

The other brilliant worker is Cocoa Beach (8-1). While recent figures may be wanting, she is undoubtedly on the march and does have that 78.5 to run back to, earned while winning the UAE 1000 Guineas. The workout indicates a fondness for Pro-Ride--at least in the mornings--and she really gets along (2-for-2) with the great Ramon Dominguez. A significant question is what to do with Carriage Trail (8-1) who absolutely freaked winning the G1 Spinster. This wouldn’t be the first time Shug McGaughey used the Spinster to win a “Dist…,” er, Ladies Classic. She’s loves the Keeneland Polytrack but Poly isn’t Pro-Ride. Given the rapid turnaround, she figures to regress from the 79, a huge top. That doesn’t mean she will; just that she figures to.

My personal wagering approach in this race will be to ignore defending champion and strong second favorite Ginger Punch (9/2). She’s a wonderful mare, no doubt, but she might be going in the wrong direction after two extremely enervating efforts at Saratoga prior to her non-excuses placing to Cocoa Beach in the Beldame. I am trying to defeat Music Note (6-1) even if she is an extremely talented filly. But while she seems to be marching forward again, this is her synthetic debut while meeting her elders for the first time. She has been very impressive visually but beating up on her own age group in small fields is a completely different ballgame. Clearly, the Ladies Classic, with an outside chance to crown a Horse of the Year in Zenyatta, it’s the least appealing betting race of the weekend.

Most Probable Winner: Zenyatta

Must Exactas: Cocoa Beach and Carriage Trail

Trifecta Mix: Music Note and Hysterical Lady

Running Totals Updated Upon Return to New York

Written by John Pricci


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tip Your Cap to this Sailor

Today’s feature at Belmont Park, the restricted Johns Call Stakes for three-year-old turf horses going a mile and a sixteenth on the inner course is probably meant as a confidence booster for probable favorite Sailor’s Cap. And even if that’s not what trainer Jimmy Toner had in mind, it will probably work out that way.

Time was when Sailor’s Cap was thought to be the best sophomore turf horse in the country and many still feel that way, even if he was defeated subsequently by Gio Ponte and Court Vision in the Virginia Derby, after Toner’s colt took the Colonial Turf Cup very impressively in a previous start.

Was it the soft course that moved him up? Maybe, but maybe not, too. This colt just lengthens his stride through the stretch until he reaches the line first. He should enjoy a class edge over the group on his preferred surface.

The main danger should come from either Big Truck or Slambino, or both. Big Truck was toughened on the Triple Crown trail this spring and finished strongly to just miss in a state-bred stakes, his turf debut, earning a competitive figure. Slambino, meanwhile, has tactical speed, kick, and gets class relief, dropping out of the Grade 2 Jamaica for this. The bad news is that, either way, you’re not likely to get rich.

Taking Sailor’s Cap to win, no price restrictions, and keying him first and second in exactas and trifectas with his main rivals here.

Running Totals: (299) 90-62-36 Total Dollar Return: $602.10 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mesa Girl Is One In a Million

A million-dollar carryover? Never saw one of this on this circuit before. Have fun kids!

Anyway, today’s feature is for state-bred turf fillies, 3-year-olds & up, is at seven furlongs. The secondary condition could be for horses that have tended to disappoint.

That’s why recent graduate Doree Daze, an impressive maiden breaker last time out, is likely to be the favorite and most probable winner. But at 3-1 on the early line, and probably lower at post time while moving up in class and distance, we’ll take a pass.

Indeed, we believe that the oft disappointing Mesa Girl (7-2) has found a field she can handle. She been racing competitively with open claimers and now tries New York limited allowance types. Her figures are improving and this three-year-old only figures to develop further.

There appears to be sufficient speed signed on to insure at least an honest pace and she has plenty of conditioning turning back from recent routes. Samyn on the Green is still a buy-word in turf events and Jean-Luc remains adept at timing those late rallies purposefully. We think the price will be fair.

Taking Mesa Girl to win at early odds of 7-2 or greater and keying her first and second in exactas, trifectas and Dime Supers with Doree Daze, Who Is Lady (7-2), Cats A Glitter (8-1) and mega-price shot Mercy’s Delight (50-1).

Running Totals: (298) 89-62-36 Total Dollar Return: $590.70 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


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