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.

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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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Fast New York-Breds In Featured Belmont Sprint

Wednesday’s feature at Belmont Park is a good one, a state-bred restricted stakes, the Screenland, for three-year-olds at the demanding hybrid distance of 6-½ furlongs.

The race includes four serious contenders, from the inside out; Stunt Man, Chief’s Lake, Bustin Stones and Indian Camp. Each has a license to win.

Stunt Man has improved his figures dramatically since Gary Contessa’s claim. After finishing third, the colt turned back to seven furlongs and won by open lengths. Certainly fast enough, he now must turn back again, vs. tougher competition, and it’s unreasonable to expect another forward move.

Chief’s Lake makes his season’s debut for Steve Asmussen. Undefeated in three Belmont Park starts at 2, he has been in training since March, his most recent work a bullet best of 34 half-mile breeze in :48-flat. Given the maturity factor, an improved performance figure puts him in today’s photo.

Bustin Stones is undefeated in two career starts, winning both impressively, especially his last in the Times Square division of the Stallion Stakes. He, too, turns back with faster and returns on relatively short rest, 17 days. Lightly raced, a regression is not automatically assumed, however. He easily could be this good.

The fastest horse is Indian Camp and he should provide value. After a top figure score in a state-bred preliminary allowances, he regressed in the open, graded Bay Shore Stakes but only after engaging in a suicidal pace duel that earned an exceptional pace figure. One-for-one as a Belmont two-year-old, the surface switch is a non-factor that could help, along with reuniting with Eibar Coa, who was aboard for the win two starts back.

We’re taking Indian Camp to win, and keying him first and second in trifectas with Stunt Man, Chief’s Lake and Bustin Stones.

Running Totals (including Kentucky Derby results): (18) 7-4-4 ROI: $49.80

Written by John Pricci

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Former European Fillies Battle It Out On Belmont Turf

Two former European fillies will battle for major honors in today’s Belmont feature, the Destiny Dance overnight stakes for fillies and mares at 1-¼ miles on the inner turf course. It’s a close call but Pictavia rates the edge. First, a look at her main rival, Time On.

Toughened in European graded stakes at 3, Time On makes her second start off a lengthy layoff for turf ace Christophe Clement. In her American debut at Gulfstream Park March 31, she stalked the pace while under stout restraint throughout the mile and a half route.

The combination of distance, ground loss, and dissipation of energy in her first start in 160 days proved too much. She was beaten less than three lengths in a deeper field than she meets here. Time On will benefit from the effort and today’s shorter route.

Pictavia, however, looks quicker and suits the race shape a tad better. Little went right for Pictavia in her U.S. debut. She dropped back perceptibly following a stumbling beginning then was forced to rally very wide, tough in any grass race but especially so at Gulfstream. Third, beaten one length at 1-1/16th miles, she figures to improve and clearly benefits from a suitably longer distance.

Blessed with tactical speed, an inside draw, and the position conscious Mike Luzzi, who’s been riding in excellent form the last few weeks, Pictavia figures to get the jump on her main rival. Trainer Saeed bin Suroor is a very worthy and profitable 36 percent with shippers into New York.

Luzzi is also named on Pictavia’s stablemate, Veneti, but only one can start. We prefer the former. No Pictavia, no play.

Taking Pictavia to win and an exacta box with Time On.

Running Totals Through Sunday: (16) 6-4-3 ROI: $38.00

Written by John Pricci

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