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, October 08, 2008

On Playing Faster, Looser

First, an apology. Picking Visionaire to win Sunday’s Jerome over Tale of Ekati, was an inexcusable rookie mistake, and I’m too old to make rookie mistakes. But with recent selections in a Wall Street free fall, handicapping confidence, like consumer confidence, is still a struggle. So, now, in the words of Fast Eddie Felson, no more playing it safe, especially since so many of our choices have failed to reach price criteria.

The key to today’s preliminary allowances/$50,000 starter group at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf will be the ground, which figures to be significantly less than firm. One of the entrants that will relish the footing, if his Equiform figures are a measure, is Forever My Friend (12-1), reuniting with apprentice Sebastian Morales, who’s ridden the three-year-old gelding effectively before.

Having drawn a favorable inside slip, he goes postward for Richard Stoklosa, whose turf runners for a career are a flat-bet profit despite 12 percent efficiency, meaning his runners routinely outrun odds. The fact this horse got a “vanned off” comment following his last will insure a big price. Forever My Friend came back to work a half-mile one week after his last race and surely will be closely inspected by the examining veterinarian.

Taking Forever My Friend to win at early line odds of 12-1 or greater and keying him in all money positions in the multiple pools with Titan of Industry (7-2), Dancing Tin Man (3-1) and Excellent Soldier (8-1).

Running Totals: (288) 86-61-33 Total Dollar Return: $515.80 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Picture Visionaire WInning the Jerome

Today’s Grade 2 Jerome for three year olds has lots of familiar names; a Belmont winner, Withers winner, Grade 1 King’s Bishop winner, Tampa Derby winner, etc., etc. They are talented in different ways but have been unable to step up to the highest level at route distances. But a mile should be just about right for all of them.

Visionaire (5-2) came into his own at Saratoga, winning the King’s Bishop with an impossible late run, and he’s won both his starts going eight furlongs, and both races under Alan Garcia. And note that Michael Matz is 33 percent efficient with repeaters, profitable despite 171 starters.

Don’t know why I can’t let Tale of Ekati (9-2) go, but he always gives you a reason to consider him again. Like today, when acknowledging his best lifetime effort came on this surface. And one mile should hit him right between the eye. Maybe the switch to an aggressive Cornelio Velasquez might wake him up.

But Harlem Rocker (2-1) seems more brilliant that all of them, is 2-for-2 at the distance, both one-turn affairs, including the G2 Withers. Interesting to note that Eibar Coa could have gone in a couple different directions but landed right here for Todd Pletcher, who’s given the colts six weeks freshening since his wide-trip go in the Travers. He’ll probably get first run on Da’ Tara, the controlling speed who probably wants more distance.

We’ll take Visionaire to make the last run at 5-2 or greater, keying him first and second in exactas with his main rivals here.

Running Totals: (287) 86-61-33 Total Dollar Return: $515.80 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Pretty as a Picture in the Champagne

Not sure how today’s Grade 1 Champagne Stakes will impact the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile three weeks hence but I’m fairly certain there will be some Derby colts coming from this group--if they stay healthy and continue developing, of course.

We can make a case for four or five of these but instead will concentrate on two: Cribnote (4-1) and Munnings (6-1), the second and third finishers in the G1 Hopeful. Each had a rough trip but it’s not so much what happened during but what happened after the fact.

While watching the vent, I wasn’t sure Cribnote wanted to remain between the fences. He bore out as badly as any horse we’ve ever seen while remaining healthy, regrouped while continuing extremely wide, rallied strongly and nearly won the race. Further, he earned a new top pace figure in that race, another indication that this colt might be something special, at least while running middle distances. Trainer Rick Violette is adding blinkers and the colt has responded with two strong works, including a recent bullet.

Munnings, meanwhile, lost all chance at the break, stumbling then taking a few awkward steps. This is a big colt who should improve with experience while growing into his considerable frame. Laudably, the colt re-engaged and made a strong middle move into contention before settling for third. He finally draws an outside post and the wide expanse of Belmont Park will allow him to settle into a rhythmic stride for the first time. He’s been working extremely well since shipping back to his home base.

Taking Munnings to win at 4-1 or greater, an exacta box with Cribnote, and as a trifecta key first and second, adding recent very impressive maiden breaker, Brave Victory (6-1) and troubled Futurity fifth, Gone Astray (8-1).

Running Totals: (286) 86-60-33 Total Dollar Return: $515.80 [win selections only] {Friday’s results not included}

Written by John Pricci


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