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.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Take Longer Pletcher In Belmont Feature

At first glance, today’s feature, the Fairway Flyer overnight stakes at 11 furlongs for fillies and mares on the inner turf course, is unappetizing fare. Until you look a little deeper.

Todd Pletcher has two of the six entered and the uncoupled overnight favorite at 9-5, Jade Queen, looks beatable. She just not has been the same mare this year, likely raced and not yet back to her performance figure level. Even if she were, this looks like a Breeders’ Cup prep and is not likely to be fully cranked.

His other mare, Wingspan (3-1), was extremely disappointing going shorter at Saratoga but was a good figure winner on this course at 10 furlongs during the summer meet. It would be no surprise if she were to rebound here. Despite that poor effort, Garrett Gomez takes a return call.

Barancella (2-1) is interesting for Bobby Frankel. A winner yesterday with Le Grand Trois, who also was coming off a long layup, Frankel excels in this scenario. She has worked well at Saratoga, attracts her regular rider, the hot Javier Castellano, and has excellent performance figures going long. Her last win came on this course.

At early line odds, we’ll take the value on Wingspan to rebound and win at 5-2 or greater.

Running Totals: (108) 40-26-11. Dollar Return: $230.00 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Pair of Three-Year-Olds in Classic Preps

Another week closer to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. And another important prep weekend.

A pair of three-year-olds will be trying to advance to the Classic at tracks 1,500 miles away from each other. Both Any Given Saturday, in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont Park, and Grasshopper, entered in the Grade 2 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs, will be odds-on to win their preps.

Each will be a very tough out.

Todd Pletcher announced a month ago that he would run in the Brooklyn, and both the size of the field and level of competition are testimony to the level of respect his rivals have for Any Given Saturday.

And the state of the older horse division is apparently so sorry these days that only two of “Saturday’s” four rivals are older horses. Of them, the Pletcher colt has his fellow three-year-olds to beat.

As we wrote in our analysis, Any Given Saturday is sharp, fresh and simply too fast for this group. His tactical speed will allow Garrett Gomez to place him wherever he wishes. He’ll be ready when Sightseeing comes alive at headstretch.

Grasshopper has come a very long way this summer, which is both the good and bad news. He has raised his game considerably, so high, in fact that, on performance figures, none of his nine rivals are within six lengths if all nine rivals run their ‘A’ race.

It’s unlikely that Grasshopper can duplicate his excellent placing in Street Sense’s Travers. The dynamics here; from field size, to distance, to surface, to post position, are altogether different. But at this level, class tells. Grasshopper’s ‘B’ race likely will be good enough.

But that’s not the purpose of this drill. The purpose is to take another step forward, gain more experience, more seasoning, and get to the Jersey Shore with gas left in the equine tank.

If he gets beat, you could bet that trainer Neil Howard will be past the point of going ballistic.

You can’t say you haven’t been warned.

Written by John Pricci

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Saturday’s Child

Just when the going has gotten tough in the last fortnight, along comes Any Given Saturday, 2-5 to stop the bleeding in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap at nine furlongs. The Todd Pletcher three-year-old has come to hand this summer and is in the conversation when it comes to viable Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders. He’s sharp, he’s fresh, and he’s much faster than the group. His high cruising speed will allow Garrett Gomez to do whatever he wants.

As the most probable winner, he’s unbettable. But we will make a cold exacta that will count as a win play in the dollar return totals. Sightseeing is much, much better than he showed in the Travers. Despite training better than he ever had in his life, he was inexplicably dull. Now he’s back at his favorite distance, on his favorite surface where he’s never finished out of the money in three starts, winning two. Hot riding Javier Castellano replaces the injured Edgar Prado.

Running Total: (107) 39-26-11. Dollar Return: $227.30 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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