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.

Friday, August 31, 2007

It’s Two… Two Stakes In One!

As advertised, it’s the With Anticipation/P.G. Johnson Stakes, restricted to two-year-olds but for colts AND fillies. (The Johnson originally didn’t fill, thus the dual stakes).

Kind of an interesting concept, actually.

It’s wide open, as you might expect, but we’ve narrowed it down to five (two geldings, a colt, and two fillies). From the inside, out: Sherine (7-2), Carry the Day (12-1), High Appeal (3-1), Pulla Fast One (12-1) and the filly, Sea Chanter, 8-1.

Sherine is the fastest on performance figures, owns a strong late kick, attracts Alan Garcia, who's riding the turf course very well, and hails from a clever barn. The hope is that her mates will scratch so that some value might be available. Certainly don't want to take a short price with such a competitive group.

Carry the Day shipped to Monmouth for the Continental Mile after breaking his (turf) maiden at Belmont Park but the trip wasted his time after the race was rescheduled to the main track. But he’s right back in 13 days here, is back on turf, and Gary Contessa reaches out for turf ace Garrett Gomez. He showed good late kick in his grass score, has some tactical speed and is drawn inside. Good value at early line odds.

High Appeal has done nothing wrong, as his 2-for-2 grass slate suggests. He has dominated both sprints, including the Chenery at Colonial last out, hails from excellent Maryland connections and is stoutly bred on the dam’s side (Sadler’s Wells). He is the controlling speed and hails from the hot Trombetta/Dominguez team. Ramon is adept at nursing speed horses on the grass and he figures to shake loose without much difficulty here.

Pulla Fast One broke his maiden with determination over this course, at this distance, August 19 after the removal of front bandages. It’s not often you see such gameness from a young, inexperienced animal but the pedigree for grass probably makes this all possible, by More Than Ready, from an A.P. Indy mare. Horses fill up quickly here in Saratoga so the fact that he’s entered back quickly is not as significant a factor as it might be at another venue. Besides, the early line odds are attractive.

The other filly, Sea Chanter, also is interesting. Stabled at Belmont Park, set to reopen next week, why ship up here to meet colts? The answers lie in the fact that Todd Pletcher is a profitable 28 percent the first time his horses go long and her bullet work is second fastest of 48 two-year-old fillies to work that week at Belmont Park. She’s reuniting with winning rider Johnny Velazquez and her pedigree suits today’s route. A real interesting spot to be sure.

Taking a filly, Sherine, to win at 3-1 or greater, keying her first and second in trifectas with the other listed contenders.

Running Totals: (93) 38-21-11. Dollar Return: $225.00 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Don’t Get Mixed Up, Take Favorite In Turf Writers’ Cup

We’ve already discussed the merits of Mixed Up, the favorite for today’s Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Steeplechase Cup Handicap (see Saratoga Diary on home page). His prep for this, the Smithwick Memorial, was first rate. But today there’s added distance and weight, significant variables, but the eight-year-old continues in sharp form for Jonathan Sheppard.

The interesting runner here is The Looper (12-1), trained by Tom Voss. He clearly needed his race in the Sheppard, benefits from a weight switch, the added ground, and the price is intriguing.

Taking Mixed Up to win at 8-5 or greater and an exacta box with The Looper, extra ticket with Mixed Up first.

Running Totals: (92) 38-21-11. Dollar Return: $225.00 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Perfect Distance For A Perfect Sting

A restricted stakes, the Perfect Sting at nine furlongs on the inner turf course, kicks off the final week of racing at Saratoga.

The event drew but six entrants but is fairly competitive with three fillies looming strong contenders. From the rail, out: Criminologist (7-2), Mo Cuishle (3-1) and Amansara, the 2-1 early line choice.

Amansara is deserving. Following a preliminary allowance score, the four-year-old War Chant filly has been keeping stakes company, including a good third in the Grade 3 Frances Genter. Her effort in the restricted De La Rose on this course was first rate. It was her first start at four and after gaining the lead, tired in the final strides as if short of condition. Sure to benefit, George Weaver makes a switch to Ramon Dominguez, who’s been riding both Spa courses extremely well. Amansara is 1-for-1 at today’s trip.

Mo Cuishle comes out of the same race as the favorite and had the tougher trip. While Amansara saved ground, Mo Cuishle circled widest from well back in the pack and finished strongly, beaten a half length for the win, a half length behind the favorite. While Amansara figures to improve, this filly doesn’t figure to be as unlucky given the shorter field. Barclay Tagg has drilled this filly three times since that Aug. 1 route, including a very sharp half mile on Aug. 23. Eibar Coa retains the mount.

Criminologist was well backed in her course debut Aug. 9 and didn’t disappoint. She overcame a poor start and finished strongly to win a photo in a very game performance. Her pedigree says the added sixteenth is well within her scope and the suddenly hot Edgar Prado takes the re-ride for Shug McGaughey.

At the distance, Amansara rates the call narrowly to win, at 8-5 or greater, making an exacta box with Mo Cuishle and a trifecta part wheel using both fillies first and second, adding Criminologist to the mix for second and third.

Running Totals: (91) 38-20-11. Dollar Return: $225.00 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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