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, October 20, 2007

Showcasing a New York State of Mind

Next Saturday is the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Monmouth Park; today is the Empire Classic at Belmont Park. And just like the former, the latter could determine Horse of the Year, New York style.

A competitive group has been assembled for the centerpiece of Showcase Day and is our custom, we’ll look at three major contenders, from the inside, out: Run Red Run (12-1), Naughty New Yorker (2-1) and Indian Hawke (5-2).

Run Red Run peaked last year in his third start following a layup, the same scenario as today’s. Further, it was on a wet track, the expected conditions this afternoon. And it came at the 9 furlong distance.

Naughty New Yorker clearly is the proven class, has excellent performance figures and has earned them with consistency, his racing in what might be career form and has been carefully pointed toward this by Pat Kelly, himself enjoying an excellent season. He has tactical speed and kick; made to order for whatever comes his way this afternoon. J J Castellano rides him back of his recent score.

Indian Hawke was claimed two starts back and might start here as the favorite, such was the improvement he showed in his first start for Tony Dutrow, 30 percent efficient with new acquisitions. He earned the best recent figure in that score, handles any footing and is nicely drawn outside. Cornelio Velasquez accepts the re-ride here.

We’ll go for the class and consistency of Naughty New Yorker at early line odds of 2-1 or more and an exacta key box with the likely favorite and price shot contender.

Running Totals: (124) 44-28-13. Dollar Return: $261.50 [based on win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Friday, October 19, 2007

A Filly That Ellen Degeneris Would Love

Today’s feature is an overnight stakes at seven furlongs for fillies and mares four year olds and up, the Storm Flag Flying. Half of this six-horse group could easily win it; from the inside, out: Baby Bird (9-5), Pussycat Doll (5-2) and Swap Fliperoo (9-2).

The early line favorite’s next loss at Belmont Park will be her first. Not many horses win four straight on any track but that’s what this Rick Dutrow trained filly has done. She’s accomplished all this at slightly longer distance, obviously gets along well with Cornelio Velasquez and has enough tactical speed to lay close up. But despite turning back in distance, that could nullify her stretch punch some. At least that’s what we’re hoping, at projected short odds. She will be a tough out, obviously.

If the good Pussycat Doll shows up, the rest are running for place money. Her figures at seven furlongs against better rivals earlier this season dwarfs the competition here but she’s one of the few Bob Baffert horses that hasn’t won since shipping East. But in her latest she showed signs of getting back into best form; chasing the pace at 6-½ furlongs and staying fairly well. She should stalk from close range once again and do it more comfortably. She really gets along with Garrett Gomez, who gets back on the filly here after a short absence.

Swap Fliperoo is the quintessential turn-back for Allen Jerkens. She really acts best as a middle-distance sprinter and seven furlongs is perfect for her on best according to her performance figures. Jean-Luc Samyn takes the mount and the veteran still knows when to time his late run. Besides, it’s “the Chief,” right?

Taking the little value available on Pussycat Doll at 2-1 or greater, keying her in exacta boxes with the other two mares.

Running Totals: (123) 43-28-13. Dollar Return: $256.90 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Speed Is Always Dangerous

We’re back on the grass for the Belmont Park feature, the Awad Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at a mile and three eighths on the inner turf course. Obviously, the ability to get the entire 11 furlongs is the question.

Of the nine entered for grass, we’ll take a look at three. From the inside, out, they are True Cause (3-1), Tricky Causeway (8-1) and Encinas (5-1).

True Cause comes from the mother of all key races. Eight horses raced back from the Sept. 8 turf route at Delaware Park and no less than half won their next start. True Cause won that key race and did so despite extremely slow fractions. With a well timed run from Johnny Velazquez, the six week layup should have the bin Suroor trainee set for his best go.

Tricky Causeway is the controlling speed, has gotten this distance on the lead before, and hails from the Jimmy Jerkens shed, an outfit that has won with four of its last 12 starters. Norberto Arroyo Jr. is back in excellent form, too, being recently returned from an injury. Aggressive and strong, this horse could take a lot of catching.

Encinas returns for a barn, Kiaran McLaughlin’s, that a profitable 23 percent efficient with horses returning from layups of over 90 days. An 11-furlong specialist, Encinas has won twice at today’s distance and has been toughened in much better company than he’s in here. Burgeoning talent Alan Garcia takes the mount for one of his main patrons. Normally a rallier, his freshness might find him closer to the anticipated hungry pace here.

Taking price shot Tricky Causeway to win at 6-1 or greater and an exacta box of all listed contenders.

Running Totals: (121) 42-28-13. Dollar Return: $244.50 [win selections only] {Wednesday’s results not included}

Written by John Pricci

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