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, July 22, 2007

Accountforthegold Completes Final Formful Weekend At Belmont

Fitting that on the last weekend before racing shifts to Saratoga,
Todd Pletcher and Gary Contessa, one-two in the trainer’s standings
for virtually the entire Belmont Park meet, should have odds-on
favorites in the final two stakes.

Pletcher got the job done yesterday with Octave in the Coaching Club
Oaks. Contessa, who will win the training title by virtue of sheer
numbers while having a career year, figures to match Pletcher here,
winner for odds-on winner, with Accountforthegold (1-1) in today’s
Evan Shipman Handicap for older state-bred males going 1-1/16 miles.

On paper, he shouldn’t be beaten and it’s futile to try. On
performance figures, he is the fastest horse in the race, and by a
huge margin. His last race, the Gander, in which he won by almost
double digits, gives him a double-digit figure advantage over today’s
rivals. It’s hard to envision the 126-pound assignment deterring him;
not that top-weight and the rail are an enviable combination in
handicaps, but there has to be some drama in a horse race, yes?

The only other rival that interests us is Shuffling Madness (10-1),
making his second start off the layoff for Del Carroll. That layoff
was a four-month break, the only rest he’s gotten in over a year, and
his recent effort looked like a good prep for this. But it's the
scenario that's interesting. He has finished in the money in four of
five starts on this track, including a win, and owns a worthy 3-2-2
slate in nine starts at the distance. He’s one for nine at any other

We have no choice but to take Accountforthegold to win, no price
restrictions, and an exacta box with Shuffling Madness.

Running Totals: (64) 30-12-10 Dollar Total: $171.10

Written by John Pricci

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Octave Looms Mighty In Oaks

Today’s feature at Belmont Park, the final Grade 1 of the summer meet, was supposed to be more coronation than horse race. Then Belmont heroine Rags To Riches spiked a fever, was declared, and what do we get? One promising, one very promising, and one accomplished favorite and, oh yes, another Todd Pletcher-trained favorite in a big race.

It’s a less than inspiring betting race and a handicapping puzzle that requires more guesswork than analysis.

Not sure how one defeats likely odds-on favorite Octave, winner of the Grade 1 Mother Goose last time out. Remarkably, she never has taken a backward step on performance figures in her entire career.

Octave’s won at nine furlongs and probably has enough class and pedigree to get a mile and a quarter. It’s just that she’s no cinch to love the route, and comes back relatively quickly for an outfit that you know would have preferred to have more time between races.

There really are only two realistic alternatives. One is undefeated in three starts and was very impressive winning a listed stakes last time out. The problem is Lear’s Princess never has run on dirt and might be running here only because Rags And Riches isn’t. She is by the long-winded Lear Fan and just might be up to this. Key word here is might.

Folk is the most interesting. She’s as fast as the favorite on performance figures, has won three of four lifetime starts on dirt, appears to have been pointed toward this and has the best distance pedigree in the field. She is the speed of the speed, likely will gain a loose early lead but 10 furlongs off the bench all the way in front is a tough go, especially with a proven Grade 1 winner stalking her all the way.

If Folk only had one prep. If Lear’s Princess only had one race on conventional dirt. But they don’t.

Reluctantly, we’re taking Octave to win, no price restrictions, exacta key boxes with Folk and Lear’s Princess.

Running Totals: (62) 29-12-9 Dollar Return: $168.10 [does not include Friday’s results]

Written by John Pricci

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Betting That This Loose Tiger Can Rate

Today’s feature at Belmont Park is a “non-winners of two races lifetime” for fillies and mares three-year-olds and upward at six furlongs. It is one of the more challenging six-horse fields you’ll see.

Two fillies with the best early speed are making their seasonal debuts. Fresh, they likely will be on their respective engines. The others either are very hard-trying, stalkers from close range, or are training extremely well. What to do?

Begrudgingly, we’ve narrowed the probable choices down to three: Genuine Devotion (2-1), Thunders Dove (4-1) and Tiger On The Loose (7-2).

Genuine Devotion hasn’t started since New Year’s Eve when she ran a hole in the wind, breaking her maiden by 9 ¾ lengths, earning an extremely fast performance figure. Perhaps that was a contributing factor to today’s 201-day layoff.

Since she won that race from box to wire, we have no idea whether or not she can be rated. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is winning at a profitable 25 percent rate this year and is 31 percent when giving Alan Garcia a leg up. She might never look back.

Thunders Dove is making her first start since September 3rd, and the excellent performance figure she earned should improve given the maturity factor now as a 2007 three-year-old. Obviously good when fresh, Thunders Dove makes her first start for Nick Zito, who’s won with six of 18 new acquisitions over the last year, a profitable and gaudy 33 percent.

But like the early line favorite in here, she’s a speed type and a tough read in terms of rate-ability.

Tiger On The Loose looks like the percentage play. A four-year-old vs. younger, the Bobby Frankel barn has been white hot, winning with five of his last six local starters. Rafael Bejarano gets the call. Of all the fillies entered, she seems most amenable to rating but that cannot be known for sure until she does so.

While not as fast as her two main rivals, Tiger On The Loose has shown improvement in her second start following a layup, including a maiden win at 2, and that’s the scenario here. It is hoped Bejarano can draft in behind the pacesetters, rather than chase outside on the turn that never ends.

Taking Tiger On The Loose to win at 5-2 or greater, keying her first and second in exactas with the other two fillies. Trifecta players can add Miss Tizzy to the mix.

Running Totals: (62) 29-12-9. Dollar Return: $168.10 [no wager Thursday as turf feature remained on the grass]

Written by John Pricci

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