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, August 20, 2008

This Truck Was Made for Runnin’

It might only seem like Barclay Tagg never loses but he’s really not that good. He’s only won with six of his last 11 starters! And it’s his Big Truck (7-2) that stands tallest in the way of immensely talented Tin Cup Chalice (2-1), looking to become the first horse to sweep the Big Apple Triple and its attendant bonus. Throw in Preakness third Icabad Crane and you get a very classy renewal of the Albany Handicap.

After winning the Tampa Bay Derby, Tagg decided to Ky.-Derby prep his three-year-old at Keeneland but he seemed to hate Polytrack. In any event, he go nothing out of the Blue Grass and never was a factor in Louisville. Subsequently, however, he’s trained in very high style, with about a month’s break in between, and looks back on high track right now. Eibar Coa figures to shadow the early favorite into the first turn.

Tin Cup Chalice is highly likely to go for the lead like he has in his last four appearances, but he’ll need to deal with improving, lightly raced Writingonthewall (6-1) who figures to take advantage of his inside position and stretch to two turns. This is ambitious but he might be this good. Tin Cup Chalice must prove that he wants all of nine furlongs. Either that, or his demonstrated class will get him there.

Since his disappointing effort in the key race Belmont that has produced three next out winners, Icabad Crane is training well at his Mid-Atlantic base for Graham Motion who gives a leg up to main man Ramon Dominguez. He has more tactical speed than the deep late runners and might get the jump on those, especially since he’s fresh. This is a hell of a horse race.

We’ll take Big Truck to win at 3-1 or greater and key him in exacta and trifecta money positions with his three rivals here.

Running Totals: (256) 79-51-29. Total Dollar Return: $481.80 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Take Sheppard, It’s Just As Well

Today’s sort-of feature, the 13-furlong overnight stakes honoring the Spa accomplishments of ultimate Horse for Course John’s Call, is a wide open field of eight. And although it seems Barclay Tagg seldom loses anyone, there’s an obligation to beat early line favorite Summer Patriot, a winner at 11 furlongs over the course but which is up in class and distance vs. a pretty salty group.

We’ll concentrate on three: Just as Well (3-1), Crown Point (6-1) and Biggerbadderbetter (7-2).

The latter, who also has a race over the course, will benefit from the added distance, having run very competitive in a Churchill Downs Grade 3 at 12 furlongs after having won a preliminary allowances at the same distance, earning highly competitive performance figures.

Crown Point clearly is getting some class relief here, having run in two Grade 1s and two Grade 2s in his last four attempts at a marathon route. Making a third start off a layup for turf ace David Donk, he reunites with leading rider Cornelio Velasquez. His best figures have been earned in marathons, including one of this course.

Just as Well’s figures jumped up in his first start on this course in which was was an untenable, wide-trip third. His pedigree is screaming for more distance, which he gets here, and no one might be more adept in marathons than Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard, who specializes in these events when his horses are not the ones leaving the ground. He drops five pounds, not insignificant here, draws inside and attracts Johnny V. He is a good percentage play at bettable odds.

Taking Just as Well to win at 3-1 or greater and keying him first and second in exactas with his main rivals here.

Running Totals: (255) 79-51-29. Total Dollar Return: $481.80 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Taking Value with Sword Dancer Repeater

With Red Rocks to be scratched because of a hock injury, picking the favorite in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer is a challenging as picking the winner. The course condition is an unknown at this point but the best it could be is yielding at post time.

The three logical horses are Grand Couturier (8-1) Better Talk Now (4-1) and Dancing Forever (5-2), the early lines not reflecting the anticipated scratch.

Grand Couturier is the defending champion in this race, which happens to coincide with the fact it was the best effort of his career. He likes it here, will be making his third start of the season, and his last was a breakthrough performance on the Equiform scale. He’s been pointed to this carefully by Bobby Ribaudo and the surging Alan Garcia picks up the mount.

Better Talk Now is a remarkable nine-year-old and throughout his career his best efforts have come either at the 12 distance, soft ground, or both, a scenario he likely will get here. Regular rider Ramon Dominguez has been on a recent tear and once again takes the reins on the Graham Motion veteran. Like Grand Couturier, he will need to run down likely loose leader, Presious Passion, beneath turf ace Eddie Castro.

Dancing Forever is another deep closer but one who has put his act together to enjoy a career season. Win or lose, everything Shug McGaughey is sending out is live and this late developer’s fortunes have improved since Rene Douglas has become his regular rider; interesting how some horses just respond better to certain riders.

We’ll take whatever value is offered on Grand Couturier to win, 4-1 or greater after the scratch of Red Rocks, and keying him in exactas with his main rivals here.

Running Totals: (254) 78-51-29 Total Dollar Return: $472.50 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


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