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.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Damon Runyon Would Love This Value Play

Today’s feature for state-bred juveniles, the Damon Runyon, is a good one despite having drawn six entrants. Half this field could easily win it.

Giant Moon breaks from the rail and has been handled very deliberately. Undefeated in two lifetime starts, he broke his maiden sprinting then won the Sleepy Hollow on the stretch out to a mile in his Belmont finale. Today’s added sixteenth can only the son of Giant’s Causeway. He will stalk from close range beneath Ramon Dominguez and a victory today should earn him the New York-bred juvenile title.

Spanky Fischbein is the most experienced to date and the most accomplished. Winner of a state-bred stakes last out, he finished second in three other stakes including the open class Tyro at Monmouth last summer. He, too, will stalk from close range and his experience is a big plus here. He’s never taken a backward step on performance figures and is a deserving favorite. John Velazquez rides for Todd Pletcher.

Coastal Drive is interesting. A $25,000 claim by Rick Dutrow, he returned in the Sleepy Hollow, finished very well, and lost a narrow photo from Giant Moon. The race shape suits him here with plenty of speed signed on, he’s demonstrated the best late kick thus far, owing to his stout bottom-side pedigree and, as a non-stakes winner, gets six pounds from the two likely public choices. Additionally, he’s stabled at Aqueduct and is the only major contender with as much as a workout over the racing surface.

Taking the value here with Coastal Drive to win at 4-1 or greater and keying him first and second in exactas with Giant Moon and Spanky Fischbein. Trifectra players can add Captain Backfire (8-1) in money positions.

Running Totals: (145) 53-31-16. Total Dollar Return: $318.40 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Developing Four-Year-Olds Dominate Big A’s Queens County

A wave of nostalgia washed over me as I noted today’s feature is the G3 Queens County at 1-3/16 miles for older horses. This event used to mark the end of the New York season. It was run on the main track in late November. The season then began anew on or about March 20.

So much for better days.

Today’s renewal drew six entrants and four could be rated as serious contenders. We’ll concentrate on three: Hunting (9-5), Barcola (6-1) and Marital Asset (5-2).

Hunting is common off a career best, an incremental and not explosive one, meaning that there may just be more to come here. He finished with a flourish to win the Stuyvesant three weeks ago following a switch to Alan Garcia, who rides him back here. As a 4-year-old, this late developer still has some upside and Shug McGaughey finally might be tapping into this colt’s potential. With all the speed signed on here, the race shape couldn’t suit him any better.

Barcola is by definition the fastest here on performance figures. His lifetime best, significantly, came on this winter surface, over which he is 1-for-1. This 4-year-old always was well regarded by his connections and on some afternoons he’s positively brilliant. His last was a bit of a clunker, but if figured to be. Now back on his proven favorite surface, he’s is drawn inside the other speeds and gets a switch to the aggressive Eibar Coa. He’s certain to be live here.

Marital Asset used to be in the same barn as Barcola, Mark Hennig’s. But Edward Evans made the switch to Anthony Dutrow for a fall and winter campaign and this 4-year-old is 2-for-2. Since those efforts came sprinting at Philly Park, it’s hard to know how he will react here. But his figures improved dramatically for the white-hot Dutrow (duh) and he meets far better stock on the rise in class and distance today. The equally hot Ramon Dominguez rides.

We must take the rapid Barcola at odds of 7-2 or more, keying him first and second in exactas with his two main rivals listed, and first and second in trifecta, adding old pro Evening Attire to the mix.

Running Totals: (144) 53-30-16. Total Dollar Return: $318.40 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Frisk Her to Raise Heck in Big A Feature

Another winter track overnight stakes, another sprint for some rapid fillies, three-year-old girls going six furlongs in the Raise Heck.

Like yesterday’s offering for juvenile fillies, this one is long on talented early speed, shorter on equally talented late kick. The major contenders are Dicey Girl, Frisk Her and Your Flame In Me.

Dicey Girl is very likely to sit a good trip here. She owns tactical speed, an inside draw, showed in her last race that she can overcome trouble and still kick clear late. She is by definition the second fastest filly in the group and hails from top Delaware Valley connections with Jeremy Rose riding for Steve Klesaris. Tested in stakes company, she finally might be ready to break through.

Frisk Her is making her second start off a lengthy layoff for Gary Contessa. She was second to today’s rival Your Flame In Me on that occasion but owns some variables that should bring the two much closer together. First, there is more speed signed on today and that should keep her speedy rival occupied in the early running. Further, she’ll be making her first start for Contessa here, a profitable 19 percent given that scenario, is in receipt of a significant five pounds and Joe Bravo has ridden her in the past. On paper, she looks to have the best late kick in the group.

Your Flame In Me owns consistently faster performance figures than any of her rivals, hails from the Michael Trombetta barn that is 4-for-10 at this meet and three of his last five starters and using Jose Caraballo, the only rider this filly has had while winning four of five lifetime starts. Trombetta is profitably adept at spotting his runners in these overnight stakes and saddles a filly that never has been outrun in the early stages of a race. But she’s meeting quality speed types today and breaks from the outside post with the other speeds obviously drawn inside of her. She must prove the speed of the speed again, withstand better late runners, all while picking up five pounds at 123 as the likely post time favorite.

Taking likely value Frisk Her to win at 3-1 or more and keying her first and second in exactas and trifecta with her two main rivals.

Running Totals: (143) 52-30-16. Total Dollar Return: $304.60 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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