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, July 25, 2007

Schuylerville Figures To Go According To Plan

The Schuylerville, a Grade 3 stakes for juvenile fillies at six furlongs, traditionally has raised the curtain on America’s best race meet. And that’s the way it is again as Saratoga begins its 139th season.

Fillies are usually faster to develop than colts and a look at today’s field gives you some indication why. They’re all fast and precocious. Did I mention fast?

Thus far in their brief careers, According To Plan (5-2) has been the second fastest of these fast fillies. She won her career debut by 4-¼ lengths in :56 1/5 for five furlongs at Belmont Park. But it was more about how she ran fast.

She took early pressure through blistering fractions yet drew off while only being shown the whip of Cornelio Velasquez. Trainer Barclay Tagg has been profitably rolling along in the past 90 days, and with second-time runners in his career. And obviously the filly has more to give if two recent workouts are an indication. Fast and visually impressive, According To Plan enjoys a slight edge on pace figures.

A majority share in Subtle Aly (4-1) was purchased by crafty New York-based connections and turned over to trainer Rick Dutrow after he debut. She’s the fastest filly in the field, earning a top performance figure by racing 4-½ furlongs at Churchill Downs in a blurry :50 2/5. She has longer recovery time between starts than her main rivals and Dutrow’s a profitable 30 percent effective with new acquisitions.

The filly who might fall through the wagering cracks is Blitzing (8-1). She has enough gas to attend a rapid pace from her outside slip and enough stamina to out-kick her rivals later, like she did in her Churchill Downs debut. Her outside post can help keep the odds slightly inflated and Shawn Bridgmohan is a very worthy 32 percent riding for Steve Asmussen.

We’ll start Saratoga by taking According To Plan to win at 9-5 or more, keying her first and second in exacta boxes with Subtle Aly and Blitzing.

Running Totals: (65) 30-13-10 Dollar Return: $171.10

Written by John Pricci

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Accountforthegold Completes Final Formful Weekend At Belmont

Fitting that on the last weekend before racing shifts to Saratoga,
Todd Pletcher and Gary Contessa, one-two in the trainer’s standings
for virtually the entire Belmont Park meet, should have odds-on
favorites in the final two stakes.

Pletcher got the job done yesterday with Octave in the Coaching Club
Oaks. Contessa, who will win the training title by virtue of sheer
numbers while having a career year, figures to match Pletcher here,
winner for odds-on winner, with Accountforthegold (1-1) in today’s
Evan Shipman Handicap for older state-bred males going 1-1/16 miles.

On paper, he shouldn’t be beaten and it’s futile to try. On
performance figures, he is the fastest horse in the race, and by a
huge margin. His last race, the Gander, in which he won by almost
double digits, gives him a double-digit figure advantage over today’s
rivals. It’s hard to envision the 126-pound assignment deterring him;
not that top-weight and the rail are an enviable combination in
handicaps, but there has to be some drama in a horse race, yes?

The only other rival that interests us is Shuffling Madness (10-1),
making his second start off the layoff for Del Carroll. That layoff
was a four-month break, the only rest he’s gotten in over a year, and
his recent effort looked like a good prep for this. But it's the
scenario that's interesting. He has finished in the money in four of
five starts on this track, including a win, and owns a worthy 3-2-2
slate in nine starts at the distance. He’s one for nine at any other

We have no choice but to take Accountforthegold to win, no price
restrictions, and an exacta box with Shuffling Madness.

Running Totals: (64) 30-12-10 Dollar Total: $171.10

Written by John Pricci

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Octave Looms Mighty In Oaks

Today’s feature at Belmont Park, the final Grade 1 of the summer meet, was supposed to be more coronation than horse race. Then Belmont heroine Rags To Riches spiked a fever, was declared, and what do we get? One promising, one very promising, and one accomplished favorite and, oh yes, another Todd Pletcher-trained favorite in a big race.

It’s a less than inspiring betting race and a handicapping puzzle that requires more guesswork than analysis.

Not sure how one defeats likely odds-on favorite Octave, winner of the Grade 1 Mother Goose last time out. Remarkably, she never has taken a backward step on performance figures in her entire career.

Octave’s won at nine furlongs and probably has enough class and pedigree to get a mile and a quarter. It’s just that she’s no cinch to love the route, and comes back relatively quickly for an outfit that you know would have preferred to have more time between races.

There really are only two realistic alternatives. One is undefeated in three starts and was very impressive winning a listed stakes last time out. The problem is Lear’s Princess never has run on dirt and might be running here only because Rags And Riches isn’t. She is by the long-winded Lear Fan and just might be up to this. Key word here is might.

Folk is the most interesting. She’s as fast as the favorite on performance figures, has won three of four lifetime starts on dirt, appears to have been pointed toward this and has the best distance pedigree in the field. She is the speed of the speed, likely will gain a loose early lead but 10 furlongs off the bench all the way in front is a tough go, especially with a proven Grade 1 winner stalking her all the way.

If Folk only had one prep. If Lear’s Princess only had one race on conventional dirt. But they don’t.

Reluctantly, we’re taking Octave to win, no price restrictions, exacta key boxes with Folk and Lear’s Princess.

Running Totals: (62) 29-12-9 Dollar Return: $168.10 [does not include Friday’s results]

Written by John Pricci

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