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.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Body Doubles Need Not Apply

There are two added money events to begin the NYRA week and we’ll go with the nominal feature, the eighth race, the Ground Storm and a mile and 70 yards for four-year-olds and up. The six-horse group, including an uncoupled entry, is not every enticing. It appears to be a two-horse battle between probable favorite Stunt Man and potential wakeup Like Now.

Like Now it might be recalled was on the Triple Crown trail briefly for Kairan McLaughlin in 2006 and last year tried the Grade 1 Forego to now available after running off the screen to win a Saratoga allowances. He seems to have fallen on hard times.

Now in the hands of Billy Badgett, he prepped against better in the Paumonok sprinting last time out now stretches out to a two-turn route, which better suits him. Badgett, a profitable 21% effective with horses making their second start for the outfit, clearly has been pointing for this as his route-running and surface preference (3-for-5 on this track) figure to suit him very well. The trainer is pulling out all stops with the switch to Alan Garcia. It’s a matter of whether he is the same horse he was at 3.

There are no such concerns with Stunt Man. He runs his race virtually every time, generally good enough to win, he speed but can stalk from close range, has never finished off the board at this trip and is a multiple inner track winner. The spacing seems to be right here, as Stunt Man returns with 34 days rest, and Ramon Dominguez, aboard for recent starts, accepts the re-ride on the Gray Contessa trainee. Not very interesting but, under the circumstances…

Taking Stunt Man to win, no price restrictions, and an exacta box with Like Now.

Running Totals: (170) 62-37-18. Total Dollar Return: $387.20 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Speed Will Open Doors for La Porta

Today’s Glory In Motion Stakes for three-year-old fillies is around two turns at a mile and seventy yards, and it’s hard to envision it being more than a two-horse race between La Porta and Wonderwho’sbest.

Both fillies are coming out of the same solid event, the Busanda, and while La Porta finished ahead of today’s main rival, she did benefit from a slightly easier trip. It was a case where the speedy filly did all the work but the other picked up the better pieces.

Wonderwho’sbest has improved since Bruce Levine’s claim and her last, in addition to chasing and/or setting the pace throughout, can be forgiven because she might have reacted to a career best figure in a prior start. Levine has not backed off from spotting this filly aggressively and Alan Garcia takes the re-ride.

La Porta, meanwhile, has been racing in excellent form since competing around two turns, for which she is well suited by pedigree. And while the Levine filly did the dirty work in the Busanda, La Porta was uncustomarily far back herself after encountering traffic on the first turn. She made a strong mid-race move into contention then continued to fight gamely, just missing by a neck on the line. Mike Luzzi rides her back this afternoon.

Not getting too fancy here. Taking La Porta to win at 7-5 or greater and an exacta box with Wonderwho’sbest.

Running Totals: (170) 62-37-18. Total Dollar Return: $387.20 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Don’t Cave In, Take the Emperor

Three-year-olds are in the spotlight in today’s mile and a sixteenth Whirlaway on what could be a wet winter surface given Friday’s rains.

The race has attracted a field of seven, including an uncoupled stable entry from Todd Pletcher. The logical contenders are, from the rail out; Roman Emperor (7-2), Cave’s Valley (5-2) and Texas Wildcatter (9-2).

Roman Emperor finished third as the Count Fleet favorite, likely reacting to his lifetime best effort in his prior start. He simply was flat in that inner-track debut and some horses just need a run over this sometimes quirky ground. He finished determinedly while never a serious threat, but showed a glimpse of versatility. With a race over the track, the pole, and a race shape that seems to fit his style nicely, he’ll likely be very hard to beat. He has a bullet work following his Count Fleet third and Jeremy Rose takes the re-ride.

Cave’s Valley has been somewhat in and out from a performance figure perspective, but the good news is that today looks like in day. He won two starts going long at his Delaware base at 2 then finished unplaced in the Delta Jackpot to conclude his freshman year, earning a lifetime best pace figure. The son of Stephen Got Even will have little problem with the trip and he’s been working well for Mike Trombetta. Mario Pino ships in to take the call.

Texas Wildcatter is the longer and more interesting of the two Pletchers. His late-run style suits today’s conditions more than does the speedy style of his more accomplished mate, Spanky Fischbein. Most impressive winning a Philly Park allowance race by over 10 lengths, he worked a bullet five-eighths on the Belmont training track in preparation for his surface debut. Strong finishing Norberto Arroyo Jr. accepts the mount.

Logic is as logic does: Taking Roman Emperor to win at 5-2 or more, boxing him in the exacta with Cave’s Valley, and making a trifecta part-wheel of those two in the top slot, with all three runners second and third.

Running Totals: (169) 62-36-18. Total Dollar Return: $387.20 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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