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 18, 2007

Another Turf Feature, Another Score for Gomez

The final week of racing at Belmont Park begins with the restricted Drum Tap Stakes for older fillies and mares at 11 furlongs on the inner turf. (Shouldn’t the race be named the DrumTOP, for the remarkable weight carrying marathon filly of decades ago)? Never mind.

A representative field has shown up, but only three have an excellent chance to win, from the inside, out: Pictavia (1-1), Palmilla (5-1) and My Rachel (9-2).

Pictavia is a worthy choice and the most probable winner. Consistently faster on performance figures than the group, she was successful in marathons in Europe, returns fresh off a 76-day layup, and hails from a barn, Saeed bin Suroor’s, that’s a profitable 28 percent with its turf runners. The filly has tactical speed, can finish, draws inside and attracts Garrett Gomez.

Palmilla has come to hand at 4 for trainer Jonathan Sheppard. Her most recent effort equaled her lifetime best performance, which means she’s sitting on an explosive try here. She was in with a tough group the only time she tried a marathon distance in Florida and was competitive. She comes up to the added distance with a suitable pedigree and off a sharp score. Sheppard’s 19 percent with repeaters. Palmilla's good value at morning line odds.

My Rachel is a late developing five-year-old that’s won two straight for Todd Pletcher. She showed big improvement on figures in winning her last but therein lies the problem. That effort might leave her lacking for reserves at today’s added distance and vs. tougher rivals. The good news is she sheds seven pounds from her last race in which she carried 123; not insignificant.

But we’re taking Pictavia to win, no price restrictions, and keying her first and second in exacta boxes with Palmilla and My Rachel, an extra ticket with Palmilla.

Running Totals: (62) 29-12-9 Dollar Return: $168.10

Written by John Pricci

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

No Gusto, No Glory

The turf theme continues this weekend at Belmont Park with the 11-furlong Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap, expected to be run over a firm inner course. Four horses attract interest, from the inside, out: Sunriver (9-5), Shaklis (2-1), Fishy Advice (5-1) and Interpatation (15-1).

When dirt runners lose interest grass racing often will wake them up. That’s the case with the favorite who tested the divisions best as a three-year-old of 2006. After a particularly disappointing recent effort, Todd Pletcher worked Sunriver on the grass and liked what he saw. Sunriver won his grass debut impressively in fast time. He’s likely to control tempo from an inside slip and Garrett Gomez will attempt to sweep the weekend’s turf stakes.

Shaklis has been a pleasant seven-year-old surprise. He owns an enormous late kick and nearly upset the Grade 1 Manhattan but was forced to rally very wide through the stretch and his rally was a head short. Manhattan runnerup English Channel came back to win the prestigious United Nations subsequently. Alan Garcia gets the re-ride on this strong contender.

Fishy Advice prepped for this with a very sharp score at Monmouth in his recent season’s debut. The David Donk trainee has a history of improving in his second start following a layoff and has earned his best performance figures with consistency. He’s as fast as both favorites.

Interpatation, underrated most of his career, earns his best figures at marathon distances. In fact, his figures are competitive with the favorites and he is the only runner that qualifies as a true turf marathon specialist. Trainer Bobby Barbara has a history of fashioning huge upsets in graded stakes as a positive ROI suggests. Between his wide draw and low profile connections, a big price seems assured. We’ll go for the gusto.

Taking Interpatation to win at 12-1 or greater, and keying him in all trifecta positions with his three principal rivals.

Running Totals: (61) 29-12-9 Dollar Return: $168.10

Written by John Pricci

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Mile Specialists Battle On Belmont Turf

Today’s feature is a good, competitive one, the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at one mile for three-year-olds and older on the Widener turf course. Three horses of interest are mile specialists to varying degrees. From the inside out, they are: Art Master (7-2), Classic Campaign (4-1) and Host (5-2).

Art Master clearly has been pointed toward this, coming off a seven week layoff following his season’s debut on dirt for Bobby Frankel. Drawn inside with tactical speed, the six-year-old was third on this course in the Grade 2 Kelso last fall, has won half of his six starts at the distance, worked sharply for this and attracts Garrett Gomez for a trainer that is a profitable 25 percent going dirt to turf. Expect GG to try to work out a trip here.

Classic Campaign has been training up a storm for turf ace Billy Mott, and the improving five-year-old gelding boasts a (6) 2-2-0 slate at today’s distance. He seems to need no specific made-to-order conditions but does his best running--like most successful grass runners--from off the pace. Kent Desormeaux, the new stable rider, has owned both Belmont grass courses at this meet. Of the three, he is most likely to provide value.

Host, a Grade 1 winner at eight furlongs, is an obvious class play. The seven-year-old pro continues to hold his form very well for Todd Pletcher, who goes to one of his Gulfstream Park/Monmouth regulars, Chris De Carlo, who won aboard Host in the recent Elkwood at the shore track. Working every seventh day, Host will try to improve on his laudable (8) 4-2-0 mile record.

Opting for potential value, we’re taking Classic Campaign to win at 3-1 or more, keying him first and second in exactas with the two major contenders.

Running Totals: (60) 29-12-9 Dollar Return: $168.10 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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