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.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Please Mr. Fantasy…

We’ve been looking at all these Derby preps for months, so why not something different: A Preakness prep.

No kidding, that’s how today’s Grade 3 Withers mile is being billed, the final Saturday stakes at Aqueduct before racing shifts to Belmont Park Wednesday.

There’s no doubt that This One’s For Phil (8-5) is the fastest horse in the race, and by a considerable margin. But speedy surface or not, he hooked Big Drama, who would be the favorite in this field, and failed the eyeball test. The added furlong and the pole at this distance doesn’t help.

Then there’s Supreme Summit (5-2), a California burner who’s 2-for-2 in life, in fast time, shipping in for Doug O’Neill. These are the kinds of spots in which SoCal horses do well. Still, light on seasoning and a move up in class and distance are major obstacles.

Mr. Fantasy (4-1), however, gets away from I Want Revenge, reverts to one turn, cuts back in distance and has been very well managed to date. Kiaran McLaughlin gave him seven weeks off and the colt has responded with sharp works for this. One mile should hit him between the eyes, is well drawn, and this New York-bred is such an efficient runner.

Taking Mr. Fantasy to win at 5-2 or greater, keying him first and second in trifectas with his two rivals here, and adding Gone Astray (6-1), a promising juvenile working brilliantly for the hot McGaughey barn, and Just A Coincidence (8-1), who showed grit in I Want Revenge’s Wood Memorial and will appreciate some class relief and the turn-back to one mile.

Running Totals: (411) 125-87-55 Total Dollar Return: $854.40 [win selections only] (Friday's results not included)

Written by John Pricci


Friday, April 24, 2009

Always Think Price First

The fun part of handicapping difficult races--and Keeneland leads the league--especially in turf marathons, is looking at the age of the competitors. Among the four horses we’ve seriously considered in today’s Grade 2 Elkhorn at 12 furlongs, the youngest is six, the oldest is 10. It’s just cool, that’s all.

Question: When don’t you want to see Garrett Gomez named on your horse?

Answer: When there’s a chance to beat the favorite and your horse is 8-1 on the early line. The presence of GG surely will deflate the odds. (Too bad this race wasn’t in New York. The crowd there might have overbet Dominguez).

Anyway, there’s a lot to like about Always First. In addition to Gomez, a marathoner couldn’t find many better teachers than Tom Voss. This turf veteran’s best game, according to his performance figures, is 12 furlongs. And he seems to love the Keeneland course, as well.

The 8-year-old gelding PP’s indicate he’s really more G3 than G2, which would have been built into the price, GG notwithstanding, and he’s never been off the board in three local starts and is a 5-time winner at the route. He has a big kick and it’s doubtful there’s another rider on the planet that finishes as strongly as Gomez.

Taking Always First to win at 6-1 or greater, keying him in exotics with Better Talk Now (5-1), a former champion now 10 years old who goes well fresh and with regular partner Ramon Dominguez; Brass Hat (12-1), a generous price on the early line, third off a layoff, third in this race last year and a possible ground saver beneath Borel, and Champs Elysees, a deserving 2-1 favorite, recently second to Einstein in the G1 Santa Anita Handicap, a winner of the G1 Hollywood Turf Cup late last year at today’s trip and reuniting with winning partner, Jose Valdivia. (The concern is 124 pounds of high weight).

Running Totals: (411) 125-87-55 Total Dollar Return: $854.40 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Here’s the Memo on Communique

It just might be that the stakes run Bill Mott and Kent Desormeaux have been on at this meet might come to an end, as the equally hot Rusty Arnold steps up to the plate with Communique, second choice at 2-1 and defending 2008 Bewitch Stakes winner.

Favored Dress Rehearsal (8-5) does come in off a good line, improving with each recent start and a winner over good ground at this distance on good Gulfstream turf. But good at GP and good at Keeneland are two different animals. But she does have the live connections with four year old upside.

Communique, meanwhile, came back to the races with an even effort in the G3 Endeavor at Tampa, a race she badly needed. Now she returns to her favorite course, her optimal distance, is consistently faster than the group by a significant margin, and reunites with Garrett Gomez, who rode her to victory in this race last year.

Taking Communique to win at 2-1 or greater, an exacta box with Dress Rehearsal, and adding Caprice (6-1) and Winter View (8-1) to the trifecta mix.

Running Totals: (410) 125-86-55 Total Dollar Return: $854.40 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


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