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, 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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Friday, July 20, 2007

Betting That This Loose Tiger Can Rate

Today’s feature at Belmont Park is a “non-winners of two races lifetime” for fillies and mares three-year-olds and upward at six furlongs. It is one of the more challenging six-horse fields you’ll see.

Two fillies with the best early speed are making their seasonal debuts. Fresh, they likely will be on their respective engines. The others either are very hard-trying, stalkers from close range, or are training extremely well. What to do?

Begrudgingly, we’ve narrowed the probable choices down to three: Genuine Devotion (2-1), Thunders Dove (4-1) and Tiger On The Loose (7-2).

Genuine Devotion hasn’t started since New Year’s Eve when she ran a hole in the wind, breaking her maiden by 9 ¾ lengths, earning an extremely fast performance figure. Perhaps that was a contributing factor to today’s 201-day layoff.

Since she won that race from box to wire, we have no idea whether or not she can be rated. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is winning at a profitable 25 percent rate this year and is 31 percent when giving Alan Garcia a leg up. She might never look back.

Thunders Dove is making her first start since September 3rd, and the excellent performance figure she earned should improve given the maturity factor now as a 2007 three-year-old. Obviously good when fresh, Thunders Dove makes her first start for Nick Zito, who’s won with six of 18 new acquisitions over the last year, a profitable and gaudy 33 percent.

But like the early line favorite in here, she’s a speed type and a tough read in terms of rate-ability.

Tiger On The Loose looks like the percentage play. A four-year-old vs. younger, the Bobby Frankel barn has been white hot, winning with five of his last six local starters. Rafael Bejarano gets the call. Of all the fillies entered, she seems most amenable to rating but that cannot be known for sure until she does so.

While not as fast as her two main rivals, Tiger On The Loose has shown improvement in her second start following a layup, including a maiden win at 2, and that’s the scenario here. It is hoped Bejarano can draft in behind the pacesetters, rather than chase outside on the turn that never ends.

Taking Tiger On The Loose to win at 5-2 or greater, keying her first and second in exactas with the other two fillies. Trifecta players can add Miss Tizzy to the mix.

Running Totals: (62) 29-12-9. Dollar Return: $168.10 [no wager Thursday as turf feature remained on the grass]

Written by John Pricci

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pardon Me But Lost Etiquette Will Win Likely Rescheduled Feature

Now I know about how making assumptions makes fools of us all, but after five inches of rain cancelled yesterday’s program at Belmont Park, we’re going right ahead and assuming today’s preliminary allowances feature for three-year-old fillies will be rescheduled to the main track.

Unlike most times when races are taken off the turf and one or two horses benefit most, today that could possibly could be the case with five of the six entrants. While Stormy West, Clifton Bay and Still have all shown a preference for grass, all are strongly wet-track bred on both sides of their pedigrees. Whether their trainers elect to run, of course, is entirely another matter.

In fact, the other three members of the six-horse race are bred to handle wet, too, albeit to lesser degrees. But, still, none can be safely eliminated and five of the six fillies have a good chance to win.

Resultantly, we’re not getting too fancy here. We’re taking Lost Etiquette to win, with no price restrictions, because we don’t know how many of these actually will run.

Lost Etiquette has been on the improve recently despite being compromised by soft pace scenarios, especially last time out when the fractions were slow but she still closed ground in deep stretch. That doesn’t happen very often over “big sandy.”

We’re thinking the switch to Johnny Velazquez, a tad more aggressive than Edgar Prado, might put Lost Etiquette into the game a little sooner and that her kick will take her the rest of the way. On performance figures, she’s simply the fastest, and most consistent, of this group.

[Yesterday’s Card Was Cancelled. Running Totals Same As Wednesday]

Written by John Pricci

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