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, August 26, 2007

Dance, Boca Grande, Dance

Can’t begin to describe how competitive all the races have been at this meeting, especially the stakes. Take today’s Grade 1 Ballerina for fillies and mares at seven furlongs. Many questions to answer. We’ll try to sort this out by looking at five strong contenders, half the field:

From the rail, out: Maryfield (8-1), Pussycat Doll (7-2), Boca Grande (8-1), Baroness Thatcher (8-1) and Barilla, the 3-1 early line choice.

Barilla will be an exotics use but a toss in the straight pool. While she dominated the G2 Honorable Miss at six furlongs, she has no proven form at today’s distance and meets a much saltier group. She likely will be tested early and her wide draw may not give the positional edge it usually does at this trip.

Pussycat Doll, seemingly like all Bob Baffert-trained horses, hated the Polytrack. Hell, she didn’t handle Cushion Track either. Can she rebound on the dirt? Sure, but she might have been tailing off from a tough spring campaign. She’s a tough read in that respect and, at expected short odds, why bother?

Three-year-olds have a solid record in this race, primarily those coming out of the G1 Test. The first of these is Baroness Thatcher who showed much improved early speed in her Spa return and just missed place in a very sharp effort behind filly sprint divisional leading Dream Rush. As a testament to her class, she was also second in the G1 Las Virgennes. She’s held her form, if her recent half-mile work is any measure, and retains Garrett Gomez.

Boca Grande came from another county to finished second in the Test. Shug McGaughey always points for this meet and his three-year-olds tend to peak in racing’s second season. Horses tend to hold their form if they show a preference for this track and clearly she has. Boca Grande has worked twice since the Test, indicating her energy level is good. As a three-year-old, she’s dropping five pounds to a more reasonable 115. We normally disdain deep closers but the race shapes demands an off the pace runner here. And the price should be fair.

Taking Boca Grande at early line odds of 8-1 or greater, and keying her second and third with the other listed contenders in trifectas.

Running Totals: (89) 38-19-11. Dollar Return: $225.00 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Betting Straight Makes No Sense

Please see yesterday’s Saratoga Diary for complete analysis of today’s 138th renewal of the Travers Stakes for three-year-olds, Grade 1.

Here’s the bottom line: Personally, we’re not making a win play but, if we were, would take Street Sense to win at 1-2 or more. Making an exacta box with Sightseeing, extra tickets with Street Sense first. Also, keying Street Sense first in the trifecta, with Sightseeing second and third, with Grasshopper and C P West to complete the play.

Running Totals: (87) 37-18-11. Dollar Return: $222.30 [win selections only] {Friday’s results not included}

Written by John Pricci

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Pletcher and Jerkens Surround Personal Ensign

Today’s feature, the Personal Ensign, has attracted a half dozen top class fillies at 10 furlongs, two trained by Todd Pletcher and two trained by Allen Jerkens. To me, it’s a Grade 1 trap.

Sugar Shake has speed and the pole but is highly likely to be shadowed by Teammate (6-1), the pressured pacesetter in the Go for Wand, and Indian Vale (2-1), who appeared to dislike the Delaware Park surface and finished uncharacteristically poorly.

These two pressers look ready to run their races again, especially Indian Vale, who’s been briefly freshened, is training very well, and is undefeated in two starts over this racetrack. Should these three fillies hook up prematurely in anything resembling a pace duel, it sets the table nicely for the other Pletcher, the other Jerkens.

Miss Shop (5-1) finished well too late, second in the Go for Wand. At two turn distances she’s been very professional and benefits from a strong early pace. But the now filly is Unbridled Belle (5-2), a late developing four-year-old coming off a career best at today’s distance. Away 40 days since, she has continued to train purposefully as Pletcher’s horses stay good once they break through. (See Any Given Saturday)!

Taking Unbridled Belle to repeat at no lower than 5-2, keying her first and second in trifectas with Indian Vale, Teammate and Miss Shop.

Running Totals: (87) 37-18-11. Dollar Return: $222.30 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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