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.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Today’s Handicapping Dilemma: Potential Vs. Experience

The Friday feature at Aqueduct, a preliminary allowances for New York breds at a two-turn nine furlongs, boasts a strong early line favorite in Optimistic Steve (8-5). The Nick Zito trainee is the fastest horse by virtue of a maiden win going a mile against open company at Gulfstream, then was ambitiously spotted in the Tampa Bay Derby. Back to reality here with a suitable pedigree for the added distance. He's a deserving favorite.

But this race is no walkover for the likely odds-on choice. Any of three rivals are not without a license, including Shoplifting from the rail at 12-1. The two more likely upset candidates, however, are Raven H (4-1) and Your Hour's Up (7-2).

Longshot Shoplifting had one start on this surface. Not only did he emerge 1-for-1 but earned a lifetime best figure in the process. He apparently loves this racetrack. And the pole doesn't hurt with the short run into the first turn. Low profile connections should insure inflated odds.

Raven H has really improved at 3 for Tom Bush. A repeat of either of his last two efforts would seriously contend here, and he's had ample time to recover and a sharp workout since his most recent top-figure score. The ubiquitous Pletcher barn sends out Your Hour's Up, whose on a strong performance figure line and is expected to move forward once again. An improving three-year-old is especially dangerous at this time of year, especially in the right hands.

I would call Optimistic Steve the most probable winner. But that's not always the way to bet. Instead, we'll take a small win wager on longshot Shoplifting but, more significantly, key him second and third in trifectas with the favorite, Raven H and Your Hour's Up.

Running Totals Through Wednesday Results: (13) 5-4-2 ROI: $32.10

Written by John Pricci

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Small Fields Yield Limited Opportunties

As weíve stated before, small-field racing, in addition to providing few value opportunities, can be trappy. Jockeys have as much to do with the outcome as the horses. Todayís five-horse preliminary allowance feature at nine furlongs for older horses is a good example.

The three logical horses are, from the rail out, Marital Asset, R Jís Brigade and Tommasi. The rail horse is the most probable winner.

Marital Asset, like many A.P. Indyís, is late developing, coming into his own this year as a four-year-old. He asserted himself last time out, coinciding with added distance, for which he is suited by pedigree, and the addition of blinkers, which presumably relates to both disposition and relative immaturity.

The March 21 two-turner was only íAssetísí fifth lifetime start. Owning a nice blend of tactical speed and finishing power, his rail position gets him in the game immediately. With sufficient speed signed on despite the lack of numbers here, Eibar Coa should establish himself and sit still until ready. The anticipated payoff would not make anyone rich.

Tommasi will lack position in the early going but his grind-it-out, middle-move style, coupled with his love of the surface (two wins and a second in three career starts) should find him finishing with interest in the late stages. On performance figures, he has consistently proven to be the fastest horse.

R Jís Brigade is the most intriguing. Nearly as fast as Tommasi, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is adept with the turf-to-dirt move, his horses establishing a lifetime best 31% of the time in that scenario. McLaughlinís horses have been establishing new tops at an alarming rate during the last three months. R Jís Brigade might prove the value in this small, competitive field.

Would take Marital Asset to win at 6-5 or greater. Exacta part wheel of Marital Asset and R Jís Brigade with Marital Asset, R Jís Brigade and Tommasi, extra ticket with Marital Asset.

Written by John Pricci

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When Read Is Tricky Value A Must

Todayís feature race at Aqueduct, a preliminary allowances for state-bred three-year-olds going seven furlongs, is a tricky read. Each major contender has pluses and minuses. In terms of making a wager, post time odds will never be as significant as it is in races of this type.

The contenders are Radio Freq (5-2), Victorious Affair (3-1) and Stunt Man at 9-2.

The early line favorite was a game winner of his maiden debut. He battled on the lead throughout then gamely held his advantage while dogged by a rival through the stretch. Radio Freq comes back with sufficient rest and trainer Charlton Bakerís three-year-old runners move to a new top effort nearly half the time in their second career starts. However, he moves up in class and distance for the second career run.

Victorious Affair, meanwhile, hails from the George Weaver shed, a barn whose three-year-olds keep moving forward before peaking in their third lifetime start. Thatís the case here, although this colt ran its best race on a wet surface for which he is suited by pedigree.

Stunt Man has fewer negatives than his main rivals, although he is meeting classier competition. Off-setting that, however, is the fact he is the fastest horse on performance figures, has experience at a similar distance and a trainer whose horses win more often in their second start for the new barn.

Gary Contessaís horse improved right off the claim to earn that top figure when third last out. But if the trainerís personal stats are the measure, then another forward move is forthcoming. A repeat of his last would easily be good enough to win here.

Taking Stunt Man to win at 7-2 or greater. Making exacta key boxes of Stunt Man with Radio Freq and Victorious Affair.

Written by John Pricci

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