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, January 09, 2008

When In Doubt, Go Long

The New York racing week begins with an overnight stakes, the Fiesta Lady, for four-year-fillies at six furlongs.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I must say what I think: another relatively small field, another highly contentious race.

Any of the four wouldn’t surprise, from the inside, out: Ticket To Seattle (4-1), Golden Dawn (8-1), Dani Tom Boy (9-5) and Ghost Dancing (2-1). But the problem with them and some of the others is that they are best in front. And choosing the speed of the speed isn’t easy here.

Ticket To Seattle is, by definition, the fastest and has been battle tested in consistently tougher company. But she’s an in-and-out sort who needs the lead. She is, however, working very well and could outclass the group should she speed-pop and scoot away early.

Golden Dawn is coming off a pair of lifetime best efforts following a barn change to Mike Hushion and generally it’s hard to project a third straight forward move. But the races weren’t too fast as to automatically signal a regression and it’s very interesting to note that Hushion if 5 for his last 10 starts with runners making their third start off a layup.

As the racetrack cliché goes, Dani Tom Boy ran to parts unknown in her latest while coming off a layup. Trainer Ben Perkins’ stats actually improve in second start following a lengthy layup and, visually, her turn-move last time had to be seen to be appreciated. But the figure was so extraordinary that she just has to regress. But that win came on this surface and if she speed-pops the field….

Ghost Dancing comes from the Tony Dutrow barn that excels with long-layup returnees. She won on this surface last season and earned competitive figures as an early season three-year-old. If set for best best--and her best will be needed--she has the upside and connections (Ramon Dominguez up) to get the job done.

’Ticket’, ‘Dani and ‘Ghost’ all qualify as most probable winners, that’s why we must opt for potential value. Taking Golden Dawn to win at 6-1 or greater and keying her second and third in exactas and trifectas with the three more likely contenders.

Running Totals: (158) 56-34-17. Total Dollar Return: $347.60 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Where There’s Early Smoke, There’s Fire

Today’s feature is the Ruthless for three-year-old fillies sprinting six furlongs. A closely matched group, at least half the fillies entered could win it. We’ll look at three, from the rail out, Expect the Wind (9-5), Carolyn’s Cat (5-2) and Noble Fire (4-1).

The favorite has been toughened by a series of stakes races and has gained super conditioning from recent appearances going longer. Ambitiously placed in the Grade 2 Demoiselle, she won her last two sprint appearances, handling state-bred stakes fillies with authority. She’s a deserving favorite.

Carolyn’s Cat broke through with a top performance figure last out and was wisely given recovery time by trainer Kairan McLaughlin. But while on the sidelines she’s been training up a storm, including a pair of very sharp half-mile works in her last two preps. She likely will be stalking from close range beneath Alan Garcia, her only rider in three lifetime appearances.

Noble Fire is part of an uncoupled pair from Linda Rice. A good third in a restricted stakes two back, she showed much improved early speed last time, earning a career best pace figure, and was still around at the finish. Position conscious Rajiv Maragh picks up the mount on the only major contender here with a race over the winter surface.

Taking the value offered on Noble Fire at 3-1 or greater, and keying her in exacta boxes first and second with the two listed contenders.

Running Totals: (157) 56-34-17. Total Dollar Return: $347.60 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

New York to Louisville Route Runs Through Philadelphia

The New York Road to the Derby begins with today’s Count Fleet Stakes at a mile and 70 yards. These races for young three-year-olds are always a tricky forecast because young horses develop in leaps and bounds--or not.

On demonstrable form and performance-figure patterns, the field of seven looks like a two-horse affair for the top prize: Roman Emperor (4-1) vs. Giant Moon (5-2).

Roman Emperor is by the hottest sire of the moment, Empire Maker, whose offspring just keep getting better as the distances lengthen. Since adding blinkers for his second start, the Steve Klesaris trainee is 2-for-2, his latest showing improved early speed, a career pace top. The effort came at today’s distance and indicated another forward move is forthcoming. There should be enough early pace to suit his considerable late foot. Jeremy Rose ships in for the mount.

Giant Moon is undefeated in three career starts and this will be his toughest test on several levels. It will be his first start in open company vs. a group he cannot dominate on talent alone. Couple that with an outside post, speed to his inside, and a short run to the first turn; it’s not an inviting play at short odds. The good news for his fans, however, is that he wasn’t wound tightly for his last, according to trainer Rick Schosberg, and still won. No question that talent is there.

But we’re taking Roman Emperor to win at 5-2 or greater and an exacta box with Giant Moon. Trifecta players should consider Red Reef (6-1) and Run With Me (12-1) in money positions second and third.

Running Totals: (156) 56-34-16. Total Dollar Return: $347.60 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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