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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, June 29, 2007

European and Hollywood Shippers Rumble in New York

Today’s feature at Belmont Park is a “non-winners of 3 other than/optional claiming $75,000 for 4-year-olds and up” at a mile on the Widener turf course. There are as many questions as entrants in this eight-furlong puzzle.

But wouldn’t you know it? The most probable winners are the two early line choices: the Saeed bin Suroor entry of Mathematician and Palace Episode at 3-1 and the early line favorite Giant Basil, at 9-5.

Each half of the entry has merit. Mathematician raced as if needing his recent return from a long layup. It came sprinting in a restricted stakes. Today’s class drop, coupled with a stretch to a more suitable distance, the pole position and Garrett Gomez are compelling reasons to expect improvement. Bin Suroor is 2-for-5 with his U.S. stretchouts, with two others landing a share.

Palace Episode was a Group 1 winner in Europe at 2 but raced only once last season and now makes his 4-year-old debut. Obviously he must have issues. But know that the barn is 38 percent effective with horses returning from long layoffs and 39 percent with shippers to the states. First time Lasix can’t hurt.

Giant Basil, however, is the deserving choice. He ran to his late pedigree when earning a superior performance figure in his first start for Bobby Frankel, and was wisely given 58 days recovery time. By definition he’s the fastest horse, attracts turf ace Edgar Prado, and has been working great locally since that big Hollywood effort, particularly his last half-mile breeze. By Giant’s Causeway, out of the multiple stakes winning turf mare Verbasle, this colt could be anything.

Taking Giant Basil to win at 3-2 or greater, and an exacta box with either or both members of the bin Suroor entry.

Running Totals: (49) 25-9-9 Dollar Return: $147.40 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Watch Out For Traps In Belmont Feature

Today’s restricted stakes at Belmont Park, the Evil Bear, features older fillies and mares sprinting six furlongs on the inner turf course. It a tough one. Four of the six could win it.

Our statement is to try to beat Brushed Bayou, the 3-1 third choice, who beat most of these last out. Don’t think she’ll get the perfect sailing that she got in last, and she must spot the group five pounds under a 123-pound impost.

Three we’re singling out are Queen Amira (5-1), Somethinaboutbetty (5-2) and Lemon Drop Gal (2-1).

Queen Amira didn’t get untracked until it was too late last time, when she split Brushed Bayou and Runaway Cat. Her inside post with Garrett Gomez makes her eligible for a good trip here at fair odds for Bill Mott.

Somethinaboutbetty is fast on performance figures, owns excellent tactical speed and also can work out a trip under these conditions. She’s shown continued development at four for Todd Pletcher and today’s distance would appear to suit her perfectly, as does the presence of John Velazquez.

But Lemon Drop Gal looms the most probable winner. She had a very tough trip when favored vs. many of these last out, her five-year-old debut. After getting bumped at the break, she rallied well outside on the turn then flattened out late, as if in need of the effort. Her figure showed continued development and the Jimmy Jerkens barn has been on a roll. Further, Jerkens is 24 percent efficient and profitable with horses making their second start following a layoff.

Taking Lemon Drop Gal to win at 8-5 or more, and exacta key boxes with Queen Amira and Somethinaboutbetty

Running Totals: (48) 24-9-9 Dollar Return: $141.00 [win selections only, does not reflect Wednesday’s results]

Written by John Pricci

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Value Aplenty In Belmont Park Feature

The racing week at Belmont Park begins with an inscrutable restricted stakes, the seven-furlong Stage View, for New York-bred fillies and mares, three-year-olds and up. Half the 12-horse field could win, and the one thing no one wants here is a short price.

From the inside, out: Homerette, Sabellina, Willshefire, Mohegan Sky, Artistic Express and Wild Berry all have merit. The three that are most interesting are Homerette (12-1), Willshefire (8-1) and Artistic Express (6-1).

Homerette has won at the distance on Belmont grass and is turning back to that distance for trainer Pat Kelly. Kelly is profitable with his turn-backs and has an excellent slate in non-graded stakes. Historically, the four-year-old filly has proven fast enough on performance figures to win here. A longshot that can win this.

Willshefire is a tough read because her performance figure jumped up significantly in her four-year-old debut. A positive sign of development, the figure represented a big move, indicating a possible bounce. But then maybe new trainer Barclay Tagg improved her significantly over the winter freshening period. At early line odds, she would be worth the risk.

Artistic Express intrigues us most. Another improving four-year-old, she has a healthy, forward looking pattern and her slower figures should offer her backers fair value. She is 1-for-1 at this distance on Belmont grass and trainer Mike Hernandez is 20 percent efficient with horses turning back into sprints. The filly has tactical speed, late kick and a position-conscious rider in Cornelio Velasquez. The key is to stay covered up until ready and not lose too much ground from her outside post.

Taking Artistic Express to win at 5-1 or greater and, because of inflated early line odds, we’re taking a three-horse box including Homerette and Willshefire.

Running Totals: (47) 24-9-9 Dollar Return: $141.00 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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