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.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Stars Rise On Alabama Tonight

In our mind’s eye, admittedly bleary at this stage, the Alabama is usually dominated by an alpha mare, one that stands out and leads the herd on a merry 10 furlong chase. But the 128th renewal is quite interesting, with solid but not invulnerable favorites. In short, the Grade 1 for three-year-old fillies is a good betting race.

The three most likely win candidates are, from the inside, out, Panty Raid (4-1), Octave (5-2) and Lady Joanne (3-1).

Panty Raid, like Octave, is a Todd Pletcher trainee. After taking the storied Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico, she was given six weeks to prepare for the G1 American Oaks at 10 furlongs on the Hollywood turf course. She won it in a game performance, turning back late challengers with a final quarter-mile of :23 4/5. She’s 4-for-6 lifetime, including a G1 grass debut that speaks to her class. Edgar Prado, aboard for three of them, rides her back here. Again, she is six weeks fresh.

Octave is a deserving favorite. She never has finished worse than second in six Grade 1 events, winning two, her last two starts, the Mother Goose and Coaching Club American Oaks, the latter at 10 furlongs. She is the only10-furlong dirt winner in the group, and it’s useful to note she won the Adirondack at 2 over this track. Last time she was used early, not wanting to allow the leader to steal away. This time she won’t have to be, as there appears to be enough pace signed on here.

Lady Joanne (pronounced Joan-ie) has the benefit of a recent winning race over the track, the Banshee Breeze overnight stakes at 9 furlongs in what was a dominating performance. She steps way up here but handled her rivals with energy in reserve and came back to train brilliantly. Worth noting, however, she was only a half-length behind the favorite in the Mother Goose. While her pedigree is light on the top side, she has a strong broodmare influence for the added distance. Carl Nafzger and Calvin Borel. Can they do wrong?

Taking Lady Joanne to win at 5-2 or greater, key her in exacta and trifecta boxes with the other two fillies.

Running Totals: (83) 36-18-10. Dollar Return: $211.30 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Didn’t You Get The Memo?

Can’t get over how good and competitive the stakes have been at Saratoga this year, especially on turf. Today’s feature, the Grade 2 Lake Placid for three-year-old fillies, underscores that assessment. It’s a beauty, with the opportunity for a score if you can nail the puzzle down.

We left five fillies open for consideration but will concentrate on three here; from the inside, out: Communiqué (8-1), New Edition (10-1) and Sharp Susan (7-2).

Communiqué, nicely drawn inside with a switch to turf ace Julien Leparoux, has been battle tested and has survived nicely in top company. Hindered by a slow pace in the salty, Grade 1 American Oaks, her prior was a career best try despite a tough trip in the Regret at today’s nine furlong trip. She is ready to step up a notch here For a barn whose horses re outrunning their odds at this meet.

New Edition was a game second behind juvenile champion Dreaming of Anna in the nine furlong Virginia Oaks last out, stalking the pace throughout after leaving from the 11 slip in the field of 12. It was her best performance figure to date and remarkably has never taken a backward step in five starts on turf. Her figures put her right in this at inflated odds.

Sharp Susan’s last was remarkable. Not so much that it was her career best but because it coincided with her first try on the Spa lawn and with the removal of blinkers. It also was her first go with Kent Desormeaux in the boot and she owns a win at today’s trip for Saratoga’s leading trainer, Bill Mott. She’ll make amends with a repeat of her most recent effort but doesn’t figure to offer value.

Taking Communiqué to win at 6-1 or greater and keying her first and second in exacta boxes with New Edition and Sharp Susan.

Running Totals: (82) 36-18-10 Dollar Return: $211.30 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

No Shortage of Talent in Intriguing Saratoga Special

Today’s feature is a terrific horse race and a fascinating handicapping exercise, the Grade 2 Saratoga Special for juvenile colts at 6-½ furlongs.

Four horses will attract the most attention and rightfully so, from the rail out, Kodiak Kowboy (5-2), Sargent Seattle (2-1), Riley Tucker (3-1) and The Roundhouse (7-2).

Kodiak Kowboy is a deserving favorite. After winning a listed stakes at Woodbine, he shipped down to Churchill and won the G3 Bashford Manor, always a harbinger of quality in early season two-year-old stakes. His performance figure was fast and he’s had sufficient recovery time (40 days) since. The rail post is winning at a 20 percent rate in recent Spa sprints. The Kentucky team of Steve Asmussen and Shawn Bridgmohan are the connections.

Sargent Seattle was a visually impressive maiden breaker over this racetrack for Stanley Hough, earning a competitive figure, and returned with a strong half-mile work subsequently. The :47 2/5 drill was third fastest of 61 on the day. Of the major contenders, he’s the only one with a winning race over the course.

Riley Tucker returns for Bill Mott after breaking his maiden with style in his very well meant debut. His figure was competitive and the 1:01 drill since should toughen him sufficiently for today’s demanding assignment. Edgar Prado rides the son of Harlan’s Holiday.

The Roundhouse was a very willing third behind impressive stablemate Ready’s Image in the Sanford on the second day of this meet, and that’s after being bumped fairly soundly at the break and carried wide into the stretch. Since he’s coming back a little quick for the Todd Pletcher barn (3 weeks) he’s had a usefully soft half-mile work in :49, a move termed breezing, with the hope that the work will keep him right where he is now. Garrett Gomez has the mount.

It’s a tough call for the win between the top and bottom horses; Kodiak Kowboy having an experience and position edge; The Roundhouse owning an edge on performance figures and a race over the track. It’s even harder to know which horse the crowd will prefer.

Taking The Roundhouse to win at 5-2 or greater, an exacta box with Kodiak Kowboy of equal strength, using the other two colts to fill out trifecta positions in the second and third spots.

Running Totals: (81) 36-17-10 Dollar Return: $211.30 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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