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
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Monday, July 30, 2007
Most Distinguished Most Probable Winner
Interesting feature to conclude the first week of Saratoga 139, the 15th running of the Grade 2 Amsterdam for three-year-old colts. What makes it really interesting is the lack of form among most of the participants at the 6-½-furlong distance.
But there are some fast horses on board and we’ll concentrate on the three outside horses: Americanus (5-2), Most Distinguished (2-1) and Forty Grams (12-1).
Americanus has improved markedly since the Gary Contessa claim. After just missing behind Grand Champion, he destroyed three rivals going seven-eighths on June 23rd, improving his lifetime slate to (7) 4-2-0. This hybrid distance is for specialists that can handle it. The closest dynamic to it is seven furlongs, meaning he should like the ground.
Most Distinguished did just that with his first rate placing behind the battle tested Teuflesberg in the G2 Woody Stephens on the Belmont Stakes undercard. The spacing is good here and the Dixie Union colt comes off a best of 59 half-mile on the Oklahoma training track of :46 4/5. He has the speed to lay close and the kick to get home. The early line favorite looms the most likely winner. Rafael Bejarano rides for Nick Zito.
Forty Grams seems a most generous 12-1. Highly competitive in graded stakes while on the Derby Trail this spring, he returns freshened by Steve Asmussen and has worked purposefully for his Saratoga debut. The distance might suit this colt perfectly and Edgar Prado gets the call for the first time. Given the turnback into a sprint, he’ll be running late.
Taking Most Distinguished to win at 8-5 or greater, keying him first and second in exactas with Americanus and Forty Grams.
Running Totals: (69) 32-13-10 Dollar Return: $186.80
Written by John Pricci
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Jim Dandy Favorite Has Street Cred
As opposed to yesterday’s extremely contentious Whitney, you won’t need a road map to find the favorite for today’s traditional Travers prep, the Grade 2 Jim Dandy.
Kentucky Derby winning Street Sense is the 2-5 overnight choice to win it and, on paper, he’s impossible to beat. His class and talent are obvious. His performances figures tower over the competition.
But it’s not like there aren’t interesting horses in here. To wit: Sightseeing (10-1), Tiz Wonderful (9-2) and C P West (6-1).
Shug McGaughey has been waiting patiently to race Sightseeing around two turns since his somewhat surprisingly strong effort in the Wood Memorial. Everything about him, style and pedigree, to name two attributes, indicates that two turns is his game. He showed his class to win the G2 Peter Pan despite being compromised by soft fractions. He had little chance subsequently, Any Given Saturday running the entire field off their feet in a rapidly run Dwyer.
Undefeated Tiz Wonderful is returning from an injury. When last seen, he was defeating Any Given Saturday and eventual Blue Grass winner Dominican in the Kentucky Jockey Stakes at 2. He’s been training with extreme purpose, as Steve Asmussen obviously is intending to double-team Street Sense with this colt and, of course, his Preakness hero, Curlin.
C P West hasn’t been seen since finding himself on the lead in the Belmont, a race Nick Zito, in a perfect world, probably would have skipped. He showed in the Preakness that he belonged with the division’s best, and his last two works for this were very strong. Unusual for Zito to work his horses on the main track here. Make of that what you will.
Obviously, Street Sense is the most probable winner, no price restrictions, and, in the interests of value, we’ll make one wager, a cold exacta with Sightseeing.
Running Totals: (67) 30-13-10 Dollar Return: $171.10 [Saturday’s results not included]
Written by John Pricci
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Pletcher Double Tough In Storied Whitney
I’ve seen more than my fair share of Grade 1 stakes, not only in Saratoga but everywhere. I can’t remember, however, if I’ve ever seen one as difficult at this year’s Whitney Handicap. Under the new “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup format, a victory here ought to qualify the winner for admission into the next two
With great difficulty, we’ve narrowed it down to four of the 12, from the inside, out: Papi Chullo (9-2), Magna Graduate (7-2), Dry Martini (15-1) and Lawyer Ron (6-1). Yes, we know, the last two horses break from posts 10 and 11, respectively, with its short run to the first turn. Perhaps that disadvantage will provide better odds.
Like most runners, Papi Chullo has been a new horse since acquired by Gary Contessa. ‘Papi’ earned an excellent figure winning his first start for the barn then overcame a poor start to win the Birdstone on the Belmont Stakes undercard impressively. The spacing here is ideal, a return from a 49-day layup, and the horse has trained consistently well for this. Nicely drawn inside, he gets two to three pounds from the major contenders. Early line odds would be the minimum if wagering to win.
Magna Graduate has labored in the shadows of more celebrated stablemates but has done his fair share of winning. He just missed following a tough trip in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster, bumped in deep stretch after rallying very wide to reach contention. Before taking what likely will be low odds, however, require a fast track. Not only is he winless in two wet track starts but many of today’s rivals move way up on it.
Dry Martini is one of several longshots with a legitimate upset chance. He returned to his best figure in his first start for trainer Barclay Tagg last time out, winning the Cornhusker Handicap, and he appears poised for a potentially explosive effort. The four-year-old gelding keeps getting more professional with each start and his best figures were earned at today’s 9-furlong distance. Twice. The only horse to return from the Cornhusker thus far won his subsequent start.
Lawyer Ron has drawn poorly but needs no other made-to-order conditions. Arguably the most accomplished with 10 wins from 22 lifetime starts, he’s 2-for-3 at the trip with a placing and is undefeated in two wet-track starts. He’s cycling back to his best effort and stretches out nicely to his best distance off his Salvator placing. Not only have his figures improved for the Pletcher barn but he’s been more amenable to rating. Still, he has speed if you need it, which he might, given today’s draw. The odds should be fair.
Taking Lawyer Ron to win at 9-2 or greater, and second and third in trifectas beneath the three remaining contenders.
Running Totals: (67) 30-13-10 Dollar Return: $171.10
Written by John Pricci