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, March 08, 2008

Derby Trail Courses Through Gotham

The Road to the Kentucky Derby makes a stop in New York this afternoon for the mile and a sixteenth Grade 3 Gotham Stakes over an inner track forecasted to be sloppy. While we are taking that prediction into consideration here, its still about the class of the horses at this level, and if you look hard enough you can find some wet track pedigree in all the major contenders to varying degrees.

The Gotham has drawn a very competitive field of 10, including undefeated New York-bred Giant Moon (7-2), an obvious contender from the rail. The major competition will likely come, from the inside, out: Roman Emperor (6-1), Texas Wildcatter (12-1) and Visionaire (3-1).

Its hard to knock a horse whos never been defeated. Giant Moon is 4-for-4 and never has taken a backward step on performance figures. He has tactical speed, position, is fresh, and has the meets leading rider, Ramon Dominguez. But there are two red flags in terms of accepting a short price. While hes bred for wet, hes never even trained on it, and picking up four pounds at 120, he spots the entire field weight. Not ideal when facing your toughest challenge to date.

Roman Emperor, like Texas Wildcatter, is on a good line, and figures to move forward. Thirty-five days fresh since his last, he appreciated the added ground in the Whirlaway, the same distance as todays race. He is training very well at his Fair Hill base and regular rider Jeremy Rose will travel north on Route 95 for the mount on the son of long-winded Empire Maker. He, too, has tactical speed and can kick.

Texas Wildcatter settled for third, beaten two lengths by Roman Emperor last out after losing focus but Seth Benzel, Todd Pletchers New York deputy, will be adding blinkers this afternoon. He, too, never has taken a backward step and is poised for a forward move with Norberto Arroyo Jr. on the re-ride. The son of Monarchos should be able to handle any footing thrown his way.

When last seen, Visionaire was finished third in Pyros Risen Star Stakes and trainer Michael Matz, not wanting to walk into that meat grinder again this afternoon, ships into New York from his South Florida training center and budding star Jose Lezcano will ride him back for the third time this afternoon. This long-legged colt might have been too close to the early Risen Star pace and has been much more effective making a late run. Having drawn the extreme outside post, the early line favorite might have no choice here, which can work to his benefit.

Well opt for whatever value we can find with Roman Emperor to win at 9-2 or greater, and will key him first and second in trifectas with our three main contenders and the very speedy wet-track loving Saratoga Russell (4-1).

Running Totals: (187) 64-41-21. Total Dollar Return: $401.80 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Betting Too Drunk To Call Won’t Stagger Home

To bounce or not to bounce, that is the question in todays featured secondary allowance/optional claiming $25,000 for older New York-bred males. But if the price is right, the question doesnt have to be pondered all that long.

The eight race today at Aqueduct has drawn a field of nine: The favorites, and they will be formidable, are Quick And Easy (5-2) and Starhumor (3-1).

Quick And Easy was all of that 17 days ago, taking a preliminary allowances by open lengths after opening a six length advantage into the lane. It was a career best effort for the Tim Ritvo trainee and leader rider Ramon Dominguez rides him back. A tactical speedster with kick and a favorable inside post makes him a worthy choice.

But Starhumor has a bit more upside. Hes sitting on a career best effort having gotten back to his top last out. Hes had 33 days between starts and white hot Brice Levine is a profitable 29 percent effective with horses making their third start off a layup. Rajiv Maragh has opted to ride this one back and will need to figure a way to overcome the outside post in this two-turn field of nine.

Too Drunk To Call has virtues beyond his 8-1 morning line. By definition the fastest horse, he is well drawn inside, and he improved immeasurably since the bar shoe was removed for his last race. Channing Hill takes the re-ride and the sharp six-year-old figures to get a good trip once again. At these odds, its a no-brainer, even if hes returning on nine days rest..

Taking Too Drunk To Call to win at 5-1 or greater and keying him first and second in exacta boxes with his two main rivals here.

Running Totals: (186) 64-41-21. Total Dollar Return: $401.80 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Rite Moment Looks Like Wrong Favorite

An interesting mid-week overnight stakes, the Limit, for older fillies and mares going a mile and 70 yards. An eclectic group, including an Argentinean import, but this is winter so the early line choice will be saddled by Gary Contessa (2-1). This favorite will try to beat.

Theres no question that Rite Moment is the fastest horses on performance figures, but she has no form at the distance. I realize that a mile and 70 is not that far to stretch, but why find out at a short price? The interesting fillies in here are Street Bird (3-1), Bartola (7-2) and Devil House (9-2).

Street Bird brings a two-race win streak into this and is a four-time winner at the distance with a very worthy 3-for-4 slate on this surface. Speed, the pole, Tony Dutrow are other variables in her favor. But she can rate from close range and that could make all he difference this afternoon.

Bartola is the dark horse here. If class means anything, and it does, she should be the early line choice given that she was a Group 1 winner in her native Argentina. Shes won half her eight lifetime starts but hasnt run since getting an awful trip against colts in the Group 2 United Emirates Derby last year in Dubai. She makes her U.S. debut for Steve Asmussen off a Gulfstream Park workline and gets Lasix for the first time. As the racetrackers say, she could be any kind.

Devil House might fall between the parimutuel cracks, even if she does hail from the white hot barn of Bruce Levine. She prepped for this by winning an overnight sprint stakes in her winter track debut and has won going two turns. Shes been working bullets for the stretch-out here and C.C. Lopez rides her back off her recent score.

Taking Street Bird to win at early line odds or greater, and keying her first and second in trifectas with her three principal rivals here.

Running Totals: (186) 64-41-21. Total Dollar Return: $401.80 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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