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, June 13, 2007

Zito Filly Gets Wake-Up Call at Belmont Park

An unappealing midweek feature at Belmont Park, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares eligible for “non-winners of 2 other/than, three lifetime, or optional claiming $50,000,” that has drawn a field of five.

The fastest horse and most probable winner is Just Starting (8-5), 3-for-5 since moving to the NYRA circuit and will be saddled by Anthony Dutrow’s assistant, Dove Houghton. The five-year-old mare is consistently the fastest on performance figures and owns the best pace figures as well, a formidable combination.

The good/bad news is that she gets in lighter today at 116 pounds, most of it apprentice Jose Bracetty. Thus far, no one has accused the seven-pound bug with Joe Talamo, and his low winning percentage testimony to that perception. Here, it will be a case of go to the front and improve your position.

The interesting filly, and our call, goes to the Nick Zito-trained Debbie Got Even (4-1). After going 2-for-2 early in her juvenile year, she has been most disappointing in 2007 with a far from stellar South Florida campaign. But she returns to the New York circuit today where she could find the deeper surface to her liking and tries this distance for the first time.

The hope is that early line favorite Dixie Dawn (7-5), another filly with early speed and good figures, will find enough zip from her inside post to pressure the faster favorite, setting the table for Debbie’s late run. Working strongly, the Zito trainee picks up Garrett Gomez for the first time. He should be focused, given the abuse he’s taken recently for his Belmont ride on Hard Spun.

Taking Debbie Got Even to win at 7-2 or more, and an exacta box with Just Starting and Dixie Dawn.

Running Totals: (38) 17-9-7. Dollar Return: $89.80 [does not reflect Wednesday’s results].

Written by John Pricci

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bet Linda Rice Will Have Silver Timber Set For Belmont Feature

Now that the 139th Belmont is in the books, the countdown to Saratoga will begin with today’s six furlong grass sprint for three-year-olds and up, a “non-winners of two other than maiden or claiming, or optional $50,000 claiming.”

Christophe Clement saddles the favored entry headed by Ever A Friend (2-1) that should be formidable. But we’ll call for a minor upset with the Linda Rice-trained Silver Timber (3-1).

Ever A Friend owns the fastest performance figures on turf by a significant margin, and just missed under these conditions at Belmont last out. Mate Quietly Mine is a budding Horse for Course, having won its only start given the same scenario. Since Garrett Gomez is named on both, however, only one will start. The latter would provide better value.

Silver Timber, meanwhile, earned competitive figures at three, is a turf sprint specialist, and has worked purposefully for his season’s debut. He returned last year with a victory following a similar layup and owns excellent late kick. Rice has developed a good working relationship with jockey Cornelio Velasquez. The eventual price should accurately reflect his winning chances.

Taking Silver Timber to win at 2-1 or greater and an exacta box with the starting member of the Clement entry.

Running Totals: (38) 17-9-7 Dollar Return: $89.80 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Formful New York-bred Feature On The Belmont Turf

On the day after… the feature is the Mount Vernon for older state-bred fillies and mares going nine furlongs on the inner turf course. A good competitive field, as are most New York-bred grass routes, and we’ve narrowed it down to three strong contenders, from the inside, out: Half Heaven (8-1), Factual Contender (5-2) and Homerette (6-1).

Factual Contender is the most probable winner. She’s been a different filly over the last half-year since switching to turf for trainer Barclay Tagg. Her performance figures are consistently fast, she has tactical speed but can kick home, too, and she’s been most effective at today’s distance. She defeated open company last out and has worked four times since. She won’t make you rich.

The only problem with Half Heaven is that she’s unproven at the distance. Otherwise, she’s as fast as the favorite on figures, is drawn well with tactical speed, has been successful in open company, and hails from a barn that’s 22 percent efficient and profitable with their shippers.

Homerette is by definition the fastest on figures but this represents a tough test having drawn outside vs. some salty rivals. She was finishing well after the fact in her recent four-year-old debut sprinting against open company and has been more effective in routes. But she, too, is an unknown quantity at five furlongs.

Taking Factual Contender to win with no price restrictions, and an exacta key box with Half Heaven and Homerette.

Running Totals: (36) 16-9-7 [does not reflect Belmont Stakes results] Dollar Return: $86.40 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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