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, April 01, 2009

Looking Robust in the Feature

Myself notwithstanding, no living breathing thing is as happy to see the return of New York racing to the main track as is Hale and Hearty, half the Gary Contessa-trained at 3-1 on the early line. The main danger appears to be Half Metal Jacket (5-2), making his second start off the Pablo Ortiz claimed.

Half of Hale and Hearty’s six lifetime wins have come over today’s surface, including a win at eight furlongs. Class-wise, he’s well spotted in this $50,000 starter allowances, has excellent outside position, gets Jorge Chavez on the re-ride and, on balance, is clearly faster than this group. Contessa, who claimed this runner two back, has enjoyed much success stretching to a route off two recent sprints.

Half Metal Jacket is the main danger. He has a versatile running style, won both his starts over today’s surface and also owns a victory at a flat mile. At 111 pounds and breaking from an outside position, the 4-year-old gelding also promises to get a favorable trip. It will be up to Andrea Terrill to time her move perfectly.

Taking Hale and Hearty to win at 2-1 or greater and boxing him in the exacta with Half Metal Jacket.

Running Totals: (393) 121-81-53 Total Dollar Return: $834.00 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Sunday, March 29, 2009

African Violet, By Any Other Name, Spells Value

Today’s feature to close Florida Derby weekend is the Grade 2 Rampart for fillies and mares going 9 furlongs and it drew an interesting group. The early line favorite, One Caroline (5-2) is the fastest on performance figures and is undefeated in two starts.

She has been pointed toward this, and so it appears to be the case with “house horse” Ginger Brew (3-1) and the interesting African Violet (10-1).

What makes One Caroline formidable, her recent fast figure notwithstanding, is that two of those wins came on this surface, she looms the controlling early speed, which played very well yesterday, and clearly is bred for the added distance.

Not only is Ginger Brew competitive and well drawn inside, she hails from a barn that’s a profitable 32 percent efficient with third-time starters following a layoff. Javier Castellano, who won three straight aboard the filly at this time last year, gets the ride back.

But African Violet is also 2-for-2 on this surface, makes her second start off the layup going turf to dirt for Graham Motion, earned competitive figures last season, is coming off a delayed pace top and drilled a strong five furlongs preparing for this at the Palm Meadows training facility.

She’s drawn outside, which suits her stalking style, and picks up Julien Leparoux--amazingly cool while getting the job done aboard Justwhistlindixie under similar conditions in Friday’s Bonnie Miss. Yes, she clearly looked like the class going on; this one looks like indisputable value at early line odds.

Betting African Violet to win at 8-1 or greater and keying her first and second in exactas with her two rivals here, extra tickets with One Caroline.

Running Totals: (392) 121-81-53 Total Dollar Return: $834.00 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Florida Derby: More Questions than Answers

There are only two questions that really matter concerning today’s Grade 1 Florida Derby. The first is whether Dunkirk (9-5) is up to the hype and is all Todd Pletcher believes him to be. The second is if Quality Road (2-1) is as good around two turns as he is around one.

Actually, there is a third: Is Theregoesjojo (5-1) a stretch running sprinter/miler or can he sustain his electric kick around two turns.

Unlike his two main rivals, Dunkirk is proven at the distance. He’s also slower on performances figures than both of them.

It’s unlikely that Todd Pletcher tightened the screws for his preliminary allowance win. But now that his colt needs graded earnings, Dunkirk is virtually in a must-win situation. Still, as the favorite, he’s a poor bet.

If Quality Road runs back to his Fountain of Youth effort, he is the most probable winner. Admittedly, that’s a sizable if. We’ll go on record with Quality Road.

I’m looking to play exotics. I’m making a three horse trifecta box of the Florida Derby big three. Then I’m keying Theregoesjojo first and second in exactas with the other two, an extra ticket with ‘Jojo’ second.

Running Totals: (391) 120-81-53 Total Dollar Return: $829.40 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


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