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.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Christmas In July

Today’s Belmont feature is at nine furlongs on the inner turf for four-year-olds and up, a secondary allowances with optional claiming price of $50,000. It’s an interesting race that has as many questions as possibilities. What you don’t want is a short price.

Four horses look the most interesting, from the inside, out: Centaurus, Prince Rahy, Santa’s Gold and Americaner.

Centaurus ran as if he needed his U.S. debut last out. He didn’t flash any speed until much too late but has come back to work well since for Saaed bin Suroor who’s a profitable 29 percent with his turf runners. Jean Luc Samyn rides him back from post 2.

Prince Rahy is arguably the fastest horse on performance figures and his last equaled his lifetime best effort. The problem is that he comes back on short rest with another rider, even if it is the turf-hot Kent Desormeaux. A repeat effort would win this but that’s a tough call.

Americaner boasts a bounce/rebound pattern and should move forward after being pitched high in a recent stakes. Trainer Bernardo Callejas is a profitable 15 percent for a career and is very effective with his allowance types. Cornelio Velasquez rides.

But we’re taking Santa’s Gold who poised for a top effort. The developing four-year-old never has taken a backward step on turf and in Stanley Hough has a trainer showing a lifetime profit at this track. Javier Castellano is four for his last 16 for this barn and is profitable for his career on grass.

Drawn in mid-pack, Santa’s Gold has enough tactical speed with kick to get home with a good trip.

Taking Santa’s Gold to win, no price restrictions, and keying him with the other three contenders in all trifecta positions.

Running Totals: (58) 29-12-9 Dollar Return: $168.10 [win selections only, does not include Thursday’s results]

Written by John Pricci

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Even On Turf, Early Speed Always Dangerous

As a matter of course, backing early speed on the grass over anything but a speed-favoring, hard surface is sheer folly. Color me reckless, especially since this speed type is disadvantageously drawn outside.

Today’s feature at Belmont is the restricted Naskra’s Breeze Stakes, limited to older state-breds going a mile and a sixteenth on the inner turf. We’ll concentrate on several performers; from the inside, out: Dave, Sabellina and Retribution.

Dave (5-2) is one of the logical favorites. He hails from a very live barn for owners that won Sunday’s finale on the turf. Dave has kick and a modicum of positional speed. Nicely drawn inside, he attracts JR Velazquez and trainer Barclay Tagg is profitable with returnees from a five-week layup. Classy, he fits this group very nicely.

Sabellina (10-1) is interesting because she is a female vs. males from a live, underrated turf barn and attracts turf ace Garrett Gomez, whose chilly grass style fits the mare perfectly. The six-year-old is a four-time winner on this course and finished well too late in a recent sprint prep for this. She’s now set for best.

Retribution (9-2) should provide excellent value relative to his chances for victory. A three-time Belmont winner and somewhat of a distance specialist with two wins at the route, he enters this off a two-sprint regimen, a profitable scenario for trainer John Hertler.

Hertler has an excellent record in non-graded stakes as well and reaches out for the aggressive Cornelio Velasquez. Retribution is the dominant speed who will control tempo here.

Taking Retribution to win at 4-1 or greater, an exacta key box first and second with Dave and Sabellina, and a trifecta key box, in all spots, adding Classic Pack (15-1) to the mix.

Running Totals: (58) 29-12-9 Dollar Return: $168.10 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Just Starting Needs Fast Break At Belmont

Talk about your traps!

Today’s Belmont Park feature is a six-horse race with several returning from layups of various duration and one making her U.S. debut, a race for “fillies and mares, a non-winners of three other/than; optional claiming $75,000.”

We’ll look at one of two main speed types, Just Starting (4-1), a late runner, Endless Virtue (5-2), and Aliysa (2-1), a South American filly that could race in any fashion depending on how he leaves the gate.

This is not an ideal set-up.

Endless Virtue begins from the rail position, is fresh, training well, and attracts Garrett Gomez. In what would be a perfect world for her, she would benefit greatly if the speed hooks up here; no guarantee.

But she’s 2-for-6 on this track (1-for-11 elsewhere) and never has finished worse than second at six furlongs in six starts, winning three.

Aliysa could be anything. A winner of half her six starts including a pair of Group 3s in Brazil, her wins have come on wet tracks, for which she is nicely bred. Is she classy, a mud lark, or a combination of both.

She’s been working for a long time at Saratoga’s Oklahoma training track and couldn’t be in better hands with the Pletcher/Velazquez team. Where she fits here is anyone’s guess.

The percentage play is Just Starting. Consistently fast from the barrier, she’s a win machine with nine victories from 17 lifetime starts, winning over many surfaces.

She makes her second start off the claim but her first for Gary Contessa, a profitable 19 percent with new acquisitions. The white hot Eibar Coa gets the call.

We’re taking Just Starting to win, at 5-2 or greater, and keying her first and second in exacta boxes with the other two fillies.

Running Totals: (57) 28-12-9 Dollar Return: $159.20

Written by John Pricci

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