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.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Can’t Wait to Get On Board Again

Of the seven entered in today’s opening day feature at Aqueduct, a secondary allowances at a flat (one-turn) mile, only two appear interesting: the favorite, On Board Again (8-5), Amped (8-1) and Helsinki.

On Board Again is a worthy favorite. Now making his fourth start after over a year on the sidelines, he appears ready for best now. After all, the blinkers really made a difference last out. He showed much improved early speed, mid-moved to the lead, and held grudgingly, as if he enjoyed being a race horse again. Two of his lifetime best efforts came either over today’s surface or at today’s distance. Nicely drawn outside, he’s well suited to the race shape.

Amped, meanwhile, has been recycled by the Zito . Apparently, he got blitzed having to compete in the Travers and awaited Aqueduct to take to the track again. He’s fresh, has run fast enough to compete with these on performance figures and goes for a barn and returns over a distance at which he broke his maiden earlier this year. Hot riding Rajiv Maragh gets the call.

Helsinki makes his first start since leaving the Zito barn, making his four-year-old debut here for John Terranova, who’s a very worthy and profitable 22% efficient with horses returning from a lengthy layup. Grade 1 and G2 placed in the Travers and Brooklyn Handicap, respectively, the latter vs. elders last year, he’s been working well and steadily for the last two months.

But I’m afraid this favorite has too many advantages and is the most probable winner; no price restrictions here. Taking On Board Again to win, and keying him first and second in exactas and trifectas with Amped and Helsinki.

Running Totals: (301) 91-62-37 Total Dollar Return: $605.10 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Friday, October 24, 2008

All Hail Zenyatta

Our analysis of the feature race today, from Santa Anita Park.

Ladies Classic, Nine Furlongs

The great television host Harvey Pack was always fond of saying “never bet a horse to do anything it hasn’t done before as the favorite.” Which is a convoluted way of saying bet against Zenyatta at your peril. The one thing she’s never done is lose. By definition the fastest horse, her figures are superior, she gets over the Pro-Ride better than any other synthetic surface, says the man on her back, her deep run style has never been compromised no matter how slowly her rivals try to back down the pace, and she’s coming off a “soft win” pattern, meaning her Lady’s Secret score was the perfect prep. Between Hysterical Lady, Ginger Punch and Bear Now breaking from the outside, the pace, if not fast, will be contested, enough to tip the scales in favor of the shortest-price favor over the two days of the event. She won her prep with disdainful ease and worked brilliantly since.

The other brilliant worker is Cocoa Beach (8-1). While recent figures may be wanting, she is undoubtedly on the march and does have that 78.5 to run back to, earned while winning the UAE 1000 Guineas. The workout indicates a fondness for Pro-Ride--at least in the mornings--and she really gets along (2-for-2) with the great Ramon Dominguez. A significant question is what to do with Carriage Trail (8-1) who absolutely freaked winning the G1 Spinster. This wouldn’t be the first time Shug McGaughey used the Spinster to win a “Dist…,” er, Ladies Classic. She’s loves the Keeneland Polytrack but Poly isn’t Pro-Ride. Given the rapid turnaround, she figures to regress from the 79, a huge top. That doesn’t mean she will; just that she figures to.

My personal wagering approach in this race will be to ignore defending champion and strong second favorite Ginger Punch (9/2). She’s a wonderful mare, no doubt, but she might be going in the wrong direction after two extremely enervating efforts at Saratoga prior to her non-excuses placing to Cocoa Beach in the Beldame. I am trying to defeat Music Note (6-1) even if she is an extremely talented filly. But while she seems to be marching forward again, this is her synthetic debut while meeting her elders for the first time. She has been very impressive visually but beating up on her own age group in small fields is a completely different ballgame. Clearly, the Ladies Classic, with an outside chance to crown a Horse of the Year in Zenyatta, it’s the least appealing betting race of the weekend.

Most Probable Winner: Zenyatta

Must Exactas: Cocoa Beach and Carriage Trail

Trifecta Mix: Music Note and Hysterical Lady

Running Totals Updated Upon Return to New York

Written by John Pricci


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tip Your Cap to this Sailor

Today’s feature at Belmont Park, the restricted Johns Call Stakes for three-year-old turf horses going a mile and a sixteenth on the inner course is probably meant as a confidence booster for probable favorite Sailor’s Cap. And even if that’s not what trainer Jimmy Toner had in mind, it will probably work out that way.

Time was when Sailor’s Cap was thought to be the best sophomore turf horse in the country and many still feel that way, even if he was defeated subsequently by Gio Ponte and Court Vision in the Virginia Derby, after Toner’s colt took the Colonial Turf Cup very impressively in a previous start.

Was it the soft course that moved him up? Maybe, but maybe not, too. This colt just lengthens his stride through the stretch until he reaches the line first. He should enjoy a class edge over the group on his preferred surface.

The main danger should come from either Big Truck or Slambino, or both. Big Truck was toughened on the Triple Crown trail this spring and finished strongly to just miss in a state-bred stakes, his turf debut, earning a competitive figure. Slambino, meanwhile, has tactical speed, kick, and gets class relief, dropping out of the Grade 2 Jamaica for this. The bad news is that, either way, you’re not likely to get rich.

Taking Sailor’s Cap to win, no price restrictions, and keying him first and second in exactas and trifectas with his main rivals here.

Running Totals: (299) 90-62-36 Total Dollar Return: $602.10 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


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