Pricci's Free Daily Feature Race Analysis

Whenever his daily work schedule permits, HorseRaceInsider executive editor John Pricci will analyze that day's feature race from a major thoroughbred-racing jurisdiction.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

There’s Gold In Belmont Feature

Today’s Belmont Park feature is the $90,000 Heatherten overnight Stakes for older fillies and mares going a mile and a sixteenth and while we’re admittedly splitting hairs here, we don’t believe Cash For Clunkers (2-1) is the appropriate early line favorite.

Clearly, the Rick Violette-trained filly is coming off two very sharp efforts, including a New Pace Top pattern in her last and the spacing seems just right. The daughter of Tiznow is 3-for-5, never off the board, a record that includes a (2) 1-1-0 slate at the trip.

But since the early favorite lacks Belmont Park experience, the preference for favoritism—and a winners’ circle appearance—is R Gypsy Gold (5-2), a Bernardini filly who not only gets back to Big Sandy, where she owns a worthy (4) 2-0-2 slate, but a distance at which she’s also a dominating (4) 2-1-1 record.

When last seen this filly was narrowly defeated in the Wayward Lass Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, Now back home and reuniting with Johnny Velazquez, she returns with perfect spacing and is ideally spotted by Todd Pletcher. She packs a good stretch punch and is tactical enough if needed.

Taking R Gypsy Gold to win, with no price restrictions, and boxing her in exactas with the early line favorite. Should the track come up wet, Nefertini, for a barn that’s a profitable 28% with third-off-layup starters, is a worthy inclusion.

Running Totals: (1071) 329-210-160 Total Dollar Return: $2,262.40 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Never Too Early for Spa City Fever

Today’s six horse feature at Belmont Park, the Carr Heaven for state-breds going a mile and a sixteenth in the fourth race is tough and it’s trappy.

First, there are six horses, mostly racing at the top of their form. They are sharp, in good hands, including those of the riders. Yes, a six-horse rider’s race; that’s what makes it trappy.

Mike Hushion has been on a tremendous run for what seems like forever. And in Spa City Fever (7-2) he has a gelding coming up to this off an incremental career best effort with seven weeks of recovery time.

He can set the fractions of follow from close range, which is likely the tack that Rosie Napravnik will take, given the other speed types entered. The shift back to Belmont probably will help as well.

The other 6-year-old gelding, Inherit The Gold (5-2) owns consistently best figures on the Equiform scale and has won half his four lifetime starts at this trip.

Fiddlers Afleet (6-1) was claimed from his last at Santa Anita by John Sadler—and he shows up in New York for a small state-bred stakes and attracts Johnny Velazquez. Considering Sadler is a profitable 30% in first start off the claim. Could he be better meant?

Taking Spa City Fever to win at 3-1 or greater and key boxing him in multiples with his two rivals here.

Running Totals: (1070) 329-210-160 Total Dollar Return: $2,262.40 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


To Honor And Serve Too Much Race Horse

Back to the Big Ballpark; Big Sandy, hard by the Cross Island Parkway, opened yesterday but really gets started to today with the one mile Westchester Stakes.

Parenthetically, it’s really a Grade 1 but it’s masquerading today as a Grade 3. There is no telling how good this field is or will be. And that’s not including three already proven G1 performers.

Clearly, To Honor And Serve (7-5) is a deserving early line favorite who figures to be the public’s ante-post choice. When last seen, he was showing his class taking the G1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct last fall earning a career best figure on the Equiform scale.

But it wasn’t aberrantly fast, showing incremental development the way most of Bill Mott’s charges do. At 4, he is just now coming into his own. Mott has intimated he may need this run as the Met Mile is his major spring goal; we shall see.

Since returning from injury, Rick Dutrow has been very careful picking out spots, not wanting to demand too much while at the same time boosting the confidence of Boys At Tosconova.

Also 4, he’s won three straight without entering a race with a proper name attached to it. It’s time to find out where he fits relative to this country’s best runners. Ramon Dominguez leaves from the rail with the 5-2 second favorite.

It easy to make a case that Jersey Town (3-1) just hasn’t been the same horse since he won the 2010 Cigar Mile, going winless since. That notion has validity but he’s been unlucky, too, with ill-timed handling, wrong setups, or both.

In our view, even at 85 percent, To Honor And Serve has too much class, speed, position and connections for this group.

Taking the Mott runner to win, no price restrictions, key boxing him in two positions with his rivals here and keying him first in super exotics, adding Bold Deed (12-1) and Marilyn’s Guy (6-1) to the mix.

Running Totals: (1069) 328-210-160 Total Dollar Return: $2,259.20 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


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