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, July 15, 2007

No Gusto, No Glory

The turf theme continues this weekend at Belmont Park with the 11-furlong Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap, expected to be run over a firm inner course. Four horses attract interest, from the inside, out: Sunriver (9-5), Shaklis (2-1), Fishy Advice (5-1) and Interpatation (15-1).

When dirt runners lose interest grass racing often will wake them up. That’s the case with the favorite who tested the divisions best as a three-year-old of 2006. After a particularly disappointing recent effort, Todd Pletcher worked Sunriver on the grass and liked what he saw. Sunriver won his grass debut impressively in fast time. He’s likely to control tempo from an inside slip and Garrett Gomez will attempt to sweep the weekend’s turf stakes.

Shaklis has been a pleasant seven-year-old surprise. He owns an enormous late kick and nearly upset the Grade 1 Manhattan but was forced to rally very wide through the stretch and his rally was a head short. Manhattan runnerup English Channel came back to win the prestigious United Nations subsequently. Alan Garcia gets the re-ride on this strong contender.

Fishy Advice prepped for this with a very sharp score at Monmouth in his recent season’s debut. The David Donk trainee has a history of improving in his second start following a layoff and has earned his best performance figures with consistency. He’s as fast as both favorites.

Interpatation, underrated most of his career, earns his best figures at marathon distances. In fact, his figures are competitive with the favorites and he is the only runner that qualifies as a true turf marathon specialist. Trainer Bobby Barbara has a history of fashioning huge upsets in graded stakes as a positive ROI suggests. Between his wide draw and low profile connections, a big price seems assured. We’ll go for the gusto.

Taking Interpatation to win at 12-1 or greater, and keying him in all trifecta positions with his three principal rivals.

Running Totals: (61) 29-12-9 Dollar Return: $168.10

Written by John Pricci

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Mile Specialists Battle On Belmont Turf

Today’s feature is a good, competitive one, the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at one mile for three-year-olds and older on the Widener turf course. Three horses of interest are mile specialists to varying degrees. From the inside out, they are: Art Master (7-2), Classic Campaign (4-1) and Host (5-2).

Art Master clearly has been pointed toward this, coming off a seven week layoff following his season’s debut on dirt for Bobby Frankel. Drawn inside with tactical speed, the six-year-old was third on this course in the Grade 2 Kelso last fall, has won half of his six starts at the distance, worked sharply for this and attracts Garrett Gomez for a trainer that is a profitable 25 percent going dirt to turf. Expect GG to try to work out a trip here.

Classic Campaign has been training up a storm for turf ace Billy Mott, and the improving five-year-old gelding boasts a (6) 2-2-0 slate at today’s distance. He seems to need no specific made-to-order conditions but does his best running--like most successful grass runners--from off the pace. Kent Desormeaux, the new stable rider, has owned both Belmont grass courses at this meet. Of the three, he is most likely to provide value.

Host, a Grade 1 winner at eight furlongs, is an obvious class play. The seven-year-old pro continues to hold his form very well for Todd Pletcher, who goes to one of his Gulfstream Park/Monmouth regulars, Chris De Carlo, who won aboard Host in the recent Elkwood at the shore track. Working every seventh day, Host will try to improve on his laudable (8) 4-2-0 mile record.

Opting for potential value, we’re taking Classic Campaign to win at 3-1 or more, keying him first and second in exactas with the two major contenders.

Running Totals: (60) 29-12-9 Dollar Return: $168.10 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Christmas In July

Today’s Belmont feature is at nine furlongs on the inner turf for four-year-olds and up, a secondary allowances with optional claiming price of $50,000. It’s an interesting race that has as many questions as possibilities. What you don’t want is a short price.

Four horses look the most interesting, from the inside, out: Centaurus, Prince Rahy, Santa’s Gold and Americaner.

Centaurus ran as if he needed his U.S. debut last out. He didn’t flash any speed until much too late but has come back to work well since for Saaed bin Suroor who’s a profitable 29 percent with his turf runners. Jean Luc Samyn rides him back from post 2.

Prince Rahy is arguably the fastest horse on performance figures and his last equaled his lifetime best effort. The problem is that he comes back on short rest with another rider, even if it is the turf-hot Kent Desormeaux. A repeat effort would win this but that’s a tough call.

Americaner boasts a bounce/rebound pattern and should move forward after being pitched high in a recent stakes. Trainer Bernardo Callejas is a profitable 15 percent for a career and is very effective with his allowance types. Cornelio Velasquez rides.

But we’re taking Santa’s Gold who poised for a top effort. The developing four-year-old never has taken a backward step on turf and in Stanley Hough has a trainer showing a lifetime profit at this track. Javier Castellano is four for his last 16 for this barn and is profitable for his career on grass.

Drawn in mid-pack, Santa’s Gold has enough tactical speed with kick to get home with a good trip.

Taking Santa’s Gold to win, no price restrictions, and keying him with the other three contenders in all trifecta positions.

Running Totals: (58) 29-12-9 Dollar Return: $168.10 [win selections only, does not include Thursday’s results]

Written by John Pricci

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