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.

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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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Same Scenario Likely To Get Same Result in Belmont Feature

Yesterday it was Dream Rush, dropping back to a more suitable distance and a softer spot to dominate the Grade 1 Prioress. Today, Ginger Punch (4-5) plays that role and the result will probably be the same. She’ll be a very tough favorite.

With Ginger Punch you get Sugar Swirl as part of the Frank Stronach entry which, while not as accomplished as her mate, is 2-for-3 at seven furlongs and 1-for-2 at Belmont Park with Garrett Gomez for trainer Bobby Frankel.

Bill Mott starts George Steinbrenner’s Sweet Fervor (2-1), a talented four-year-old homebred and a three-time winner at this specialized sprint distance, including a Grade 2 stakes, and is 1-for-1 at Belmont Park.

Nothing But Fun (12-1) could make things interesting. She, too, is a distance specialist and is a Grade 2 winner and Grade 1 placed. She comes off a lifetime pace top in her prep for this and might land a share in the six-horse field on the stretchout.

But Ginger Punch is the most probable winner. She’s Grade 2 placed on Polytrack at the distance but recently was gaining ground to miss by a neck to Take de Tour in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at 8-˝ furlongs over the track. Frankel is a profitable 27 percent with his turn-backs.

Taking Ginger Punch to win, no price restrictions, exacta key boxes with Sweet Fervor and Nothing But Fun, extra ticket with Ginger Punch first.

Running Totals: (56) 27-12-9 Dollar Return $156.00 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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