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, June 19, 2008

Improving “Now Horse” Trumps Classier Rivals

Well, what do you know, a grass race feature in New York? Is the NYRA racing office in a rut, or what?

At least, this one’s very interesting, a listed stakes, the Academy Award, for older males at 10 furlongs on the inner turf.

It’s drawn a relatively full field of nine and we’ll take a close look at three of them; Grand Couturier, Banrock and Distorted Reality.

Grand Couturier is the class of this group--by a lot. A winner of the Grade 1 Sword Dancer last year and third in the G1 Man o’ War, he debuts with Garrett Gomez in the boot for the first time ever. Trainer Bob Ribaudo has done an excellent job with this veteran, finally earning stakes brackets in 2007. But Ribaudo doesn’t usually have them fully cranked off long layups and let’s face it, this spot has prep written all over it.

Banrock doesn’t class up at first glance but he’s the now horse of the group and clearly comes into this in career form, showing a newly found maturity, a common occurrence with geldings when they reach the age of five. He owns the fastest recent figures, comes up to this six weeks fresh. While he lacks 10 furlong form, he has won going farther and reunites with Javier Castellano, 1-for-1 aboard the gelding.

Distorted Reality receives much needed class relief here. Making his third start off a layoff, a 29 percent proposition for the Pletcher barn, it was either the G2 company or the off course that compromised his chances in the Dixie at Pimlico last time out. As a four year old, he should continue improving and owns a (2) 1-1-0 slate over Belmont grass. Regular Rider Johnny Velazquez takes the mount on this multiple graded-placed stakes runner.

Taking the streaking Banrock to win at 4-1 or greater, keying him in exactas first and second with his classy rivals here.

Running Totals: (222) 71-46-24. Total Dollar Return: $440.10 [win selections only] {does not reflect Wednesday’s results}

Written by John Pricci


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Making You An Offer You…

Like seemingly everyone else, we love turf racing, albeit not necessarily turf sprints, and frankly can’t understand why we can’t see more of the 7 furlong variety that are in the main more truly run. But no matter what the distance, does every NYRA feature without a name on it have to be a grass race? Gets a little old.

Having said that, today’s feature is for state-breds under secondary allowance conditions or $50,000 optional claiming at six furlongs. Given the amount of early speed signed on, it appears to mid-moving late runners hold a clear edge here; Can’t Refuse (5-1) and Five Towns (7-2).

Can’t Refuse is getting some class relief here, returning to a level at which he has been most effective. The five year old gelding has been suffering through a series of tough trips now also benefits from a return to the inner turf, over which he’s been most effective. He retains Rajiv Maragh for trainer Randi Persaud, in the midst of a career meet.

Five Towns is a turf sprint specialist that has been more effective going a bit shorter. However, she makes her debut for Christophe Clement, the turf ace who’s extremely effective with returnees coming off layups of 90 days or longer. He’s been using Alan Garcia almost exclusively of late, and that’s the case here. As a four year old, his newly found maturity should spell improvement, as does his move back into state-bred company.

Taking Can’t Refuse to win at 4-1 or greater and an exacta box with Five Towns.

Running Totals: (221) 71-46-24. Total Dollar Return: $440.10 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tevye Would Be Proud

I liked this race better when it was 7 furlongs on the Widener course. However, it has remained a tough handicapping puzzle, a Grade 3 for older males, at 6 furlongs on the Belmont inner turf course.

The key to this is knowing what to do with First Defence (2-1), who owns a class edge but never has run on turf. His pedigree is acceptable, and trainer Bobby Frankel certainly has grass genes. But we must try to defeat him as the likely post time favorite.

Horses with the best turf form, and highest performance figures, are Salute The Count (4-1) and True To Tradition (9-2). Salute The Count went well in this race last year, obviously has been pointed for this, draws the rail and Prado, but probably prefers 5 furlongs .

True To Tradition is going very well for Scott Lake--not quite Linda Rice in turf sprints but very effective, indeed. The six year old gelding handle this trip very well and his late run style fits today’s race shape nicely. Of the early line choices, our guess is that this veteran can provide the best value in this group.

Taking True To Tradition to win at 7-2 or greater, keying him in exacta boxes with his main rivals here. Trifecta players can add Emirates to Dubai to their mix.

Running Totals: (220) 71-46-24. Total Dollar Return: $440.10 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


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