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, April 11, 2009

Getting the Lay of the Land in the Bluegrass

If it’s Saturday and if it's…oh, you get the idea…

But today is the centerpiece of the Keeneland meet, the Grade 1 Blue Grass, a pivotal Kentucky Derby prep. Pre-Poly, anyway.

Even though he’s automatically in, Euro shipper Mafaaz is prepping again for the Derby, John Gosden electing for two preps instead of one. However, why no Lasix today? Saving it for Louisville?

And how about this spot for a 3-year-old debut? That’s what Kiaran McLaughlin is doing with Charitable Man (4-1), an undefeated Grade 2 winner as a juvenile and working lights out for this. One certainly can leg up on Polytrack, it’s three weeks from the dance, and he’s 2-for-2 on dirt. McLaughlin is first rate off lengthy layups, this colt is fast, and attracts stable rider Alan Garcia.

Favorite Hold Me Back (3-1) was very impressive winning the Lane’s End in his season’s debut and is now 3-for-4 on three different synthetic surfaces. To come from far back on the cupping out Turfway Polytrack is not easy. He is, however, likely to regress off a big lifetime top Equiform figure, although 3-year-olds are known to pair tops in the spring. But at the price and wide draw, we’ll play against.

Theregoesjojo (7-2) has been terrific this season and is the only colt to finish ahead of Quality Road. Interestingly, if he wants a Derby run, his earnings are on the bubble. He doesn’t have to win this, but needs a healthy slice. He’s worked well for his synthetic debut.

Terrain (6-1) is second off the layup for Al Stall, a good percentage move in and of itself. He finished very well late when third in the G2 Louisiana Derby behind the streaking Friesan Fire, was second in a G1 on this track at 2 and was beaten less than three lengths after a tough first turn in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Pro-Ride. He has two sharp works over the surface and attracts Keeneland’s hottest rider not named Johnny Velazquez in Julien Leparoux.

Betting Terrain to win at 5-1 or greater and keying him in exacta and trifecta money positions with Charitable Man, Hold Me Back and Theregoesjojo, adding General Quarters (15-1), on the bounce-rebound and switching to Eibar Coa with a sharp recent work, to the trifecta mix.

Running Totals: (403) 124-85-53 Total Dollar Return: $849.00 [win selections only]

There will be no selections in this space tomorrow. Happy Easter, Happy Passover to all our loyal readers

Written by John Pricci


Friday, April 10, 2009

Next Round’s on Mott

If it’s Keeneland and if it’s Friday, it must be a Grade 1. Boutique meet, indeed.

But having said that, this isn’t one of the strongest renewals of the Maker’s Mark Mile. And it’s not easy, either.

The favorite Thorn Song (5-2) is probably the most effective miler. He likes the Keeneland course--unusual for a frontrunner--and he has run well fresh. And Robby Albarado really get s along with these types, this one trained by Dale Romans. He’s won 3 of 5 at the distance and his best Equiform figure came on this surface.

We don’t know how good Fluke (7-2) or whether his last race at Santa Anita was, you know, for real. But the Frankel trainee with Garrett Gomez on the re-ride, won his last at today’s distance in 1:33 3/5, on or near the pace throughout, racing each quarter-mile in :23-and-change. He’s showing excellent development.

The newly turned 4-year-old was Grade 1 placed in fast time in his native Brazil and still has some developing to do at his age. He’s interesting but the class hike despite the competition is still steep and there’s a world of difference between Santa Anita and Keeneland turf.

Mr. Sidney (4-1) turns back to a distance at which he’s 2-for-2 lifetime and hails from the hot team of Bill Mott and Kent Desormeaux. While the lightly raced 5 year old has yet to be tested at this level, but he’s unlikely to find a softer G1 group. Further, coming off a turf decline line, he projects to earn a figure competitive with Thorn Song’s best.

Taking Mr. Sidney to win at 7-2 or greater and keying him in exactas with his main rivals here.

Running Totals: (402) 123-85-53 Total Dollar Return: $840.60 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Ventura Highway in the Blugrass

If it’s Keeneland and it’s Thursday, it must be a Grade 1. Today it’s the Vinery Madison Stakes for older fillies and mares at 7 furlongs. But the bad news is the top two choices look pretty invincible.

When last seen, Ventura (4-5) was getting beat a nose by the male Gio Ponti in the G1 Frank Kilroe at a mile on turf at Santa Anita after moving sooner than is optimal for her. Prior to that she won the G1 Santa Monica under today’s conditions on Pro-Ride. The filly sprint champion is 1-for-1 here and 3-for-3 at today’s distance. Garrett Gomez rides the Frankel trainee.

The thing is that Informed Decision (5-2) ran just as fast as the early line favorite as a three-year-old and now has 4-year-old maturity going for her. Similarly, this miss is 2-for-2 over the Keeneland Poly and likewise at 7 furlongs. She has the hot-riding Johnny Velazquez who tripled here opening day and Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard can get one ready off a long layup. And she gets two pounds from the choice. What’s not to like?

However, after she won the Breeders’ Cup Filly Sprint and I remember thinking how can she ever loose at 7 furlongs on a synthetic surface? And Frankel is 37 percent going sprint-route-sprint, today’s scenario.

Compelled to take Ventura, no price restrictions, and an exacta box with Informed Decision.

Running Totals: (401) 123-84-53 Total Dollar Return: $840.60 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


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