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.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sing Along With Songster

From a betting perspective, Saturday’s featured Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap at 6 furlongs is not very enticing but it does offer a glimpse at a horse that should make run at the sprint title at year’s end, four-year-old Godolphin runner, Songster.

Making his season’s debut for new trainer Saaed bin Suroor, he returns to Belmont Park where he’s 1-for-1 and retains the services of regular rider Edgar Prado. A talented speedster, he proved to be a bit brittle at 3 and the hope is that with maturity comes a new measure of toughness.

Fresh off the 259-day break, he boasts a very sharp breeze for his return and hails from a barn that not only is 35% effective with long-layup types but has the same lofty percentage in graded stakes. Suroor’s figures rise to 39% with horses making their first start for him. Songster will be part of the pace throughout.

If there is a chance to find value, it would be in keeping likely second choice Anew out of the exacta. Steve Asmussen is not known for his overall effectiveness with long absentees and the thinking is the gelding’s real target is the Grade 2 True North on Belmont day.

We’re taking Songster to win with no price restrictions, and will try to complete the exacta with the bounce/rebound candidate, Pavo. There should be sufficient pace on to assist the five-year-old’s late run. He has a history of bouncing back off poor efforts.

[Thursday’s top selection, Hither Lane, was scratched. Winning second choice Council Member was not included in totals recap].

Running Totals (excluding Friday results): (19) 7-5-4. ROI: $49.80.

Written by John Pricci

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Tread Lightly In Belmont Waters

Friday’s Belmont feature for state-breds, a “non-winners of two other than/$30,000 optional claimer,” drew a large competitive field. Looks like a race with money-making potential. The problem is how.

There are younger, classy types--not as accomplished, but with great potential--vs. some very sharp, older hard hitters. We’ve narrowed the field down to four, from the inside out; recent returnee Ruffino, ship-in Lookmeintheeye, classy layup Devil’s Concierge, and the pointing Building New Era.

Ruffino may battle for favoritism with Devil’s Concierge. Lightly raced, Ruffino wins by large margins and is a perfect 2-for-2 at the distance around one turn. Generally, when Jimmy Bond’s horses get good, they stay that was for a while. Speed and finishing power are great weapons. His preference for Belmont’s surface is an unknown.

Lookmeintheeye ships in for crafty connections and broke his maiden vs. New York breds on this racetrack, at this distance. Not insignificant, that. Trainer Michael Aro brings Ryan Barber along from Philly Park to guide the potential surprise package.

When last seen, Devil’s Concierge was tiring after moving wide into a lively pace in the Grade 2 Bay Shore at 3. He’s working bullets for his return for Rick Dutrow, adept with long term absentees, and names Edgar Prado. Think he’s live?

Building New Era makes his second start off the freshening for Gary Contessa with a switch to Alan Garcia, a potent tandem in New York this season. His tactical speed and outside position should enable a comfortable stalking trip, and he figures to be in this to the finish.

In a tough, tough heat, taking Ruffino to win at 3-1 or greater, and keying him first and second in trifectas with Devil’s Concierge, Lookmeintheeye and Building New Era.

Running Totals (through Wednesday‘s racing): (19) 7-5-4. ROI: $49.80

Written by John Pricci

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Seeking Perfect Trip In Competitive Belmont Sprint

Thursday’s feature at Belmont Park, a “non-winners of three other than/$75.000 optional claimer” is beaucoup tough. We always preach value, of course, but never was that more important than in today’s 6-furlong sprint.

Four of the seven entered can win, from the inside out; Council Member (4-1), Graynumberfive (15-1), Hither Lane (9-5) and Lucky Gamble (3-1). Unfortunately, they all look like they have either been pointing for this or fit the conditions snugly.

Council Member has been absent a long time but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Trainer Saeed bin Suroor is 35% efficient off layups of 90 days or more and an amazing 39% with horses making their U. S. debut. This horse boasts some European Group 1 lines and was effective on artificial dirt. Garrett Gomez gets the call.

Graynumberfive was claimed from a prolific trainer last out and Leah Gyarmati is not known for striking first time off the claim. But this horse owns a huge pace edge, a hot, speed rider in Mike Luzzi and is a big price on the early line.

Hither Lane is classy, goes well when fresh and clearly has been pointed toward this. He also fits the race shape well as a pace presser in a speed laden group. Nicely drawn outside, he is a likely perfect tripper. Javier Castellano is a nice fit.

Lucky Gamble is a hard-hitting six-year-old from a top barn and has tactical speed and a good kick. Hard trying, he finally gets away from the streaking Dashboard Drummer. Eibar Coa and Bruce Levine are a live team.

Hard to believe that Hither Lane can be less than 2-1 in this competitive field and that’s the way we’ll play it. Taking Hither Lane to win at 2-1 or greater, and a trifecta key of Hither Lane first and second with Council Member, Graynumberfive and Lucky Gamble.

Written by John Pricci

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