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, November 20, 2008

There’s No Qualifier; Relatively Is Ready

Interesting feature as NYRA will try to stay on the grass for this preliminary allowances for two-year-olds going a mile and a sixteenths. As you might expect, many variables to weigh here. However, there is one colt with a decided experience edge over many of today’s rivals that has had his hooves held to the fire in strong company.

Relatively Ready has excellent form. He broke his maiden on turf in his first grass start at Saratoga, going two turns at this distance on off ground, the same conditions he will encounter today. Following that came a game third in the Grade 3 Pilgrim on yielding turf, then was stoutly restrained early while racing on that carpet of a Santa Anita grass course in the Juvenile Turf.

Despite that tough circumstance and while racing against better European stock that finished 1-2, he beat more than half the field and was beaten only five lengths for all of it after a strong late, while rally going shorter while the Europeans received easier inside trips, for the most part. Today, he draws inside with switch to stable turf rider, Johnny Velazquez.

But this is no walkover. Into My Soul broke his turf maiden at first asking then placed gamely in a Meadowlands stakes after being acquired by the IEAH group. Trainer Rick Dutrow is adding blinkers here, a move that’s been 21 percent effective.

Pegasus Tommy D. broke his maiden at first turf asking as well on good ground then lost all chance in his subsequent start, racing wide behind Into My Soul throughout in that same race on yielding ground. It was a difficult circumstance for both.

While I’d like to see another run from the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Winthrop House, he was also a maiden turf breaker at first asking. What makes it a difficult read is the fact it came on firm Belmont turf going seven furlongs. But getting the trip in 1:21 2/5 in a visually impressive effort and retaining Alan Garcia certainly makes him an interesting prospect. But we’ll go with the devil we know.

Taking Relative Ready to win at 5-2 or greater and keying him first and second in exactas and trifectas with his rivals here.

Running Totals: (313) 95-64-42. Total Dollar Return: $650.20 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Taking Longer Uncoupled Mate in Open Race a Sound Strategy

Today’s Four Bases Stakes for horses that have not won a stakes at a mile on turf this year might actually get to be run on the grass with good weather in the New York area recently--although snow showers were predicted for Tuesday.

Meanwhile, it appears that Christophe Clement has this surrounded with a strong uncoupled entry of Nergal (7-2) and Operation Red Dawn (3-1). His main contenders appear to be Al Basha (6-1) and Pick Six (6-1).

Nergal is a late developing five-year-old gelding whose performance figures have been forging forward incrementally, indicating further development is possible. He draws the fence, attracts Ramon Dominguez, and appears to class up nicely given his recent third in the Grade 3 Cliff Hanger at the Meadowlands. The 1-1/16th miles suits nicely.

Operation Red Dawn is the logical favorite and most probable winner. He has been highly competitive in recent graded stakes, including a very game third despite a wide trip over soft ground in the G2 Kelso Handicap. But it’s his versatility, an ability to act over any footing, that suits him very well here and does reuniting with Alan Garcia, aboard for this gelding’s most recent victory.

Al Basha has disappointed often this season but it’s not as if the 4-year-old hasn’t raced well on most occasions. His figures are competitive and consistent and the switch to Rajiv Maragh augurs well considering the success he’s enjoyed riding for Angel Penna Jr. this season. Interesting to note, too, that Penna is 38 percent profitable in these non-graded stakes events.

Pick Six, meanwhile, is very sharp, improving with competitive figures and has been going well recently with today’s partner Cornelio Velasquez. He must prove, however, whether he’s as effective at today’s trip as he is going a bit shorter.

We’ll opt for whatever value is offered on Nergal to win at 7-2 or greater, keying him first and second in exactas with Operation Red Dawn and Al Basha--extra ticket with the former--and in trifectas as well, adding Pick Six, and the fast strong-working absentee, Buddy's Humor (8-1), to that mix.

Running Totals: (312) 95-64-41. Total Dollar Return: $650.20 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Z Humor No Laughing Matter for Pass the Tab Rivals

With yesterday’s races taken off the turf and with heavy rains in the area all Saturday night, we can’t believe that today’s Pass the Tab Stakes, for horses that have not won a stakes on turf at a mile or more this year, will remain on the grass. Therefore out selection here is for a wet main track only.

Z Humor (6-1) hasn’t really shown any development as a three-year-old after winning the Delta Jackpot last December. So, this is his time of year and, while his figures have not improved this season, they’re more than fast enough to compete with this group.

Used hard setting a strong pace in the Grade 2 Jerome, he kept trying while tiring after being displaced on the lead. The race was better than it looks on paper. After anticipated scratches, his outside draw will augur well and he’s getting a great deal of class relief in this spot. Chalk this one up for the Pletcher/Velazquez team, but at nowhere near his quoted overnight line.

Taking Z Humor to win at 3-1 or greater.

Running Totals: (311) 95-64-40. Total Dollar Return: $650.20 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


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