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, October 02, 2008

Hot Connections vs. Hot Horse

Today’s featured overnight stakes, the Strawberry Burrah for older turf runners at nine furlongs on the inner turf has drawn a highly competitive full field. But we’ll try to boil it down to the two most solid contenders.

Minister’s Joy is a worthy favorite, his 7-2 early line odds reflecting the open nature of this event. The veteran six year old was super sharp winning his lone Spa outing following a freshening, swooping wide under Javier Castellano (his specialty), and won under confident and mild hand urging. Trainer Shug McGaughey loses no efficiency with second-time off the layup starters. His performance figures are suitably fast, there has already been one winner from two subsequent starters since his last, and he returns to Belmont Park, where he’s won half of his four turf starts.

Late bloomer Formal Decree (4-1) continues to develop the right way for Saeed bin Suroor, who’s won with four of his last five starters and is a super 40 percent efficient with second-off-a-layup starters. Veteran Jean-Luc Samyn remains a reliable turf performer and his wide draw should insure that Formal Decree’s odds remain bettable value. Better yet, the five-year-old gelding stretches out to his best distance, at which he’s won half of six lifetime starts. Additionally, Suroor is 32 percent efficient in non-graded stakes.

Taking Minister's Joy at 5-2 or greater and an exacta box with Formal Decree.

Running Totals: (284) 86-59-33 Total Dollar Return: $515.80 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Euro Invader in Pilgrim? Of Course

A pair of rare midweek stakes for juveniles looking for a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile turf races for fillies and colts. Today we’ll look at the colts for the Grade 3 Pilgrim which has drawn no less than a handful of promising youngsters, concentrating on two: Bittel Road and Duke of Homberg.

It’s impossible to knock what we’ve seen from Bittel Road (5-2), undefeated in two starts, one over this course, the second at this distance in Saratoga. There’s no doubt trainer Todd Pletcher is treating him like a good horse, giving him proper spacing between starts with enough time into this following his score in the With Anticipation Stakes.

The impressive thing about his record to date is his demonstrated versatility and class, winning his debut from in front, his stakes debut from off the pace after being sloughed badly at the start. Not only did he answer two significant questions but proved he wants to be a racehorse with his game eyeball-to-eyeball test last time. Pletcher’s on a roll, as is stable rider Johnny Velazquez. Bittel Road is a solid favorite.

But Europeans have been taking out measure consistently on grass and Duke of Homberg (3-1) won his second start with style, showing an ability to make multiple moves then sustain his run through the stretch. His recent win in a maiden stakes came out a distance which by pedigree he seems unsuited, given the average winning distance of the offspring of his sire and grandsire are 8.4 and 8.3 furlongs, respectively. Add in first-time Lasix and a switch to turf ace Edgar Prado and an upset is a strong possibility given anticipated continued improvement.

Taking Duke of Homberg to win at 3-1 or greater, an exacta key box with Bittel Road, and a trifecta key first and second. adding promising Herr Mozart (4-1) and Relatively Ready (6-1) in money positions.

Running Totals: (283) 86-59-33. Total Dollar Return: $515.80 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Stalingrad Wins the Battle of Kelso

Today’s featured Kelso Handicap, a Grade 2 eight furlongs for Breeders’ Cup Mile aspirants, has attracted six entrants and the value would be in defeated 5-2 early line favorite Operation Red Dawn. The two having the best chance are a pair of 3-1 early line options, Tam Lin and Stalingrad.

Tam Lin finally returns to his most effective distance and he’s been very good on this course, too, never off the board in three starts under those conditions. Further, trainer Saeed bin Suroor recently has won with half of the six starters he’s stretched out from a sprint. Tam Lin reunites with Javier Castellano, a winner in his only try aboard the Selkirk five-year-old.

Stalingrad is coming up to this fresh and fit. He just missed in the G2 Fourstardave at Saratoga despite a considerable loss of ground. Prior to that he was unsuited by the conditions and the company in the G1 Manhattan previously, that after winning both prior starts as a four-year-old. Stalingrad won his only start at today’s distance and has found his niche for the Mike Hushion/Channing Hill team.

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

Running Totals: (282) 86-58-33. Total Dollar Return: $515.80 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


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