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.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Change Is Good; Value Is Better

Only on either Showcase Day or at this time of year is it possible for horses with good Finger Lakes form and/or success can dominate a race downstate, even one for state-breds. But that’s the case in this secondary allowances/optional claiming sprint at 5-½ furlongs. This appears to be a battle among Zipperoo, Scary Bob and Wolfson.

Returning from layups going long is one of trainer Jim Bond’s strengths; going short not so much. But Zipperoo (5-1) has run well in the past when fresh, the workouts are very steady, the performance figures excellent, he’s nicely drawn inside and attracts Rajiv Maragh’ all plusses. Further, he has a pace edge which should help at this trip.

Scary Bob (8-1) is a very fast old pro shipping south for the prolific Chris Englehart. We’re seen this act before as the 7-year-old gelding has had success on this surface and is reuniting with speed ace C C Lopez, who rode him effectively here last winter. He ships down sharp and it’s important to note that his trainer is 39 percent efficient with horses seeking to repeat. You can bet that Lopez will put his mount right off the right hip of the Bond entrant.

Will Gary Contessa work his magic with Wolfson (4-1)? It’s his time of year and the right scenario as the 3-year-old makes his debut for this barn, a profitable 22 percent occurrence. But of greater significance is that he fit’s the race shape here as there appears to be no shortage of early speed. Nicely positioned outside, Pablo Morales, who’s riding winners for this barn, particularly of late, is a strong finisher.

But we'll take the value to win on Scary Bob at 9-2 or more, keying him first and second in exactas and trifectas with his rivals here.

Running Totals: (322) 97-66-44. Total Dollar Return: $680.80 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

An Attractive Play

Today’s feature is fairly inscrutable, unless you adhere blindly to performance figures. The six furlong sprint for preliminary allowance/optional claiming two-year-olds features one of the fast maiden breakers of the juvenile season, Pop Artist (3-1).

But there are questions: For one, why did this $275 yearling debut for $100,000 for the powerful Darley Stable? Further, he was reluctant to load into the gate. Will that be the case again vs. stiffer company, and why no gate work coming into this, although hopefully he was schooled.

Trainer Tom Albertrani in any case gave him 54 days of recovery time to bring his back and he has worked steadily since debut. The fact that none were of the bullet variety suggest he might be more than simply a precocious speed-crazy youngster. Should he run back to his debut, the competition is racing for minor honors.

Other horses of major interest are Jess Not Jesse (8-1), Taqarub (5-1) , Fellow Crasher (4-1) and Prince Charming (9-2).

Taqarub was another impressive maiden breaker in fast time, albeit not as fast as Pop Artist, but it was a visually impressive win over tougher rivals.

Jess Not Jesse is interesting because he will offer value at 8-1 or more. But his first two races were on turf, including a Canadian G3, then made his dirt debut showing good early speed--a change of pace effort--before finishing third. Ramon Dominguez, winning everything in sight recently, takes the ride.

Fellow Crasher ships in with experience and fast figures. The problem is knowing how to translate his good 5-½ furlong efforts into six furlongs here. But the drop into a claimer for the first time augurs well, as Tony Dutrow is a profitable 27 percent with that angle.

Prince Charming was ambitiously placed behind Back Water Edison in the G3 Nashua Stakes, getting bogged down on the inside in that mile contest. But he switches outside here, enjoys a pace edge with his tactical speed and kick, benefits from a switch to an outside position while reuniting with Javier Castellano. His half-mile breeze in :48 on 11/26 was 14th fastest of 170 two-year-olds to work out that week.

Taking Prince Charming to win at 4-1 or greater, keying him first and second in exactas with Pop Artist and Fellow Crasher, and in trifecta and superfecta money positions with all horses here, plus sharp-working price shot Fotographia (15-1).

Running Totals: (322) 97-66-44. Total Dollar Return: $680.80 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Ravel Hits a Winning Note

An interesting way to begin the winter track season, with the listed Coyote Lakes Stakes for older horses at 13 furlongs.

Of course, tactics and trips will dictate the outcome but suffice it to know that three horses have an excellent chance to win the first feature on the inner track: Lorrcan, Delosvientos and Ravel.

On performance figures, it would be Grade 2 winner Delosvientos (7-5) with no other competitor close. A proven classy marathoner, his early speed always makes him formidable in spots like these. Two-for-two beneath Eibar Coa, trainer Giuseppe Iadisernia is 34 percent with horses seeking repeat wins and he trained steadily for this since October. The one concern is that he appears better in his second start following a layup.

Ravel (3-1), meanwhile, is as classy. A G3 winner who has tasted G1 company, his career has disappointed his high profile connections but this looks like the proper spot and will vie for favoritism with Delosvientos. With a moderate pace that promises to be contested, however, Ravel fits the race shape well and few riders can match Johnny Velazquez’s positional skills. He’s never been the distance but has an extremely long pedigree.

What Lorrcan (8-1) apparently lacks in class he makes up for in sharpness, position, tactical speed and kick. He’s won at 12 furlongs, comes up to today’s route nicely and goes very well for Jeffrey Sanchez, a dual winner on the colt. Trainer Jimmy Ferraro is profitable with stakes runners at the non-graded level and the late developer really has come to hand in his 4-year-old season.

But we'll err on the side of a potential trip a nd take Ravel at 5-2 or greater and key him first and second in exactas and trifectas with his rivals here.

Running Totals: (321) 97-66-44. Total Dollar Return: $680.80 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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