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, May 18, 2007

Early Favorite Gets You Live In Black-Eyed Susan-Preakness Double

Everywhere, the feature race of the day is the Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico Race Course, a race that is to the Preakness what the Kentucky Oaks is to the Derby. And since it’s the first leg of the Black-Eyed Susan-Preakness Double wager, let’s take a look:

It will be very difficult to beat early line choice, Baroness Thatcher. A graded stakes winner, she owns a class edge over the group by virtue of her strong second place finish to divisional leading Rags To Riches in the Grade 1 Las Virgennes earlier this year at Santa Anita. The fastest filly on performance figures, she can set or stalk the early pace and will reunite with Garrett Gomez, 2-for-2 aboard the Patrick Biancone trainee.

Todd Pletcher’s Panty Raid looks like her sternest competition. After just missing in the G3 Bourbonette two starts back, she rebounded with a game, strong-finish win over salty allowance rivals at Keeneland. She comes up to the added distance perfectly off graduating distances and retains Edgar Prado. For longshot players, the streaking Moon Catcher has a puncher’s chance. Seeking her third straight for Tim Ritchey, she’s been working bullets at her Delaware Park base and appears set for her G1 debut.

Clearly, however, Baroness Thatcher is the most probable to get you live in the Black-Eyed Susan Preakness double.

Written by John Pricci

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Yet Another Interesting Overnight Stakes at Belmont Park

It’s not hard to appreciate Belmont Park. Yesterday, an entertaining overnight stakes. Today, the same thing, only older fillies and mares will move to the turf at 1-1/16 miles for the Steal A Kiss, for non-winners of a graded turf stakes in 2006-2007. Entertaining, and tough.

It has drawn a limit field and four females loom largest in here, from the inside out; Meribel, Fantastic Shirl, Redaspen and Jade Queen. Here’s a look:

Meribel is the likely post time favorite and most probable winner. She made her four-year-old debut in an ungraded Breeders’ Cup event at Calder and finished strongly between horses late for fourth, beaten just over a length. The effort represented a new lifetime top, but not a dramatic one, making a pair-up today highly likely. That effort would be good enough to handle the group and trainer Christophe Clement retains regular rider Garrett Gomez.

Fantastic Shirl is highly likely to improve off her last. While not as fast as Meribel, she was toughened up in the recent Grade 2 Jenny Wiley on Polytrack, now returns to her preferred surface with sufficient rest for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, white hot in New York the last few weeks. Coming off a mini-layup for her latest, she usually runs better second time off a break. Edgar Prado rides her back.

Redaspen has some excellent back-figures and could upset the group at generous odds. Making her second start off a layup, she has proven to be somewhat of a specialist, having gone 3-for-5 on turf at this distance and 3-for-14 trying anything else. Regular rider Victor Molina ships up with the Maryland-based filly for the ride.

Jade Queen might hold a class edge on the group. She has a good record in tough company and a versatile running style. The fresh Todd Pletcher trainee should be part of the pace throughout beneath stable rider John Velazquez. Her figures are competitive and with the maturity gained as a four-year-old this year, she can take her game to the next level. A terrific horserace.

Taking Meribel to win at 2-1 or greater and keying her first and second in trifectas with Fantastic Shirl, Redaspen and Jade Queen. (At 10-1 or more, we will have a small saver wager to win on longshot Redaspen).

Running Totals: (21) 8-6-5 [does not reflect Wednesday’s results]. ROI: (win selections only) $52.60.

Written by John Pricci

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tricky Ogygian Could Offer Value

An interesting feature to start to racing week, the Ogygian, a $65,000 overnight stakes that will showcase several talented sprinting sophomores at the hybrid distance of 6-˝ furlongs. Virtually any of the six entrants can win. We’ll concentrate on half of them.

Cherokee Country (7-2) has something going for him that no other horse has; he’s a specialist, winning both lifetime starts at this difficult distance. Further, his last effort was the best figure on the page. The concerns are that he returns on relatively short rest off a career best try and draws the pole. The good news is that he as the right style, a kick that will help off what promises to be a very solid pace.

Silver Source (5-2) makes his first start for Dick Dutrow, making him the most eligible to improve, as Dutrow is 29% effective with new acquisitions. He’s turning back a half-furlong off the 7-furlong Aventura Stakes at Gulfstream and attracts Edgar Prado. He has tactical speed and can finish.

Sports Town (5-1) offers good value at early line odds, is well drawn outside in a short field, and owns position-speed and kick. He’s been working strongly for several weeks and picks up Garrett Gomez, who’s especially effective with this kind of runner.

Trips very often determines the outcome of a race but no more so than in a small field when many of the horses own a similar style and talented riders are not prone to making mistakes. We’ll opt for position and, hopefully, get good value, too.

Taking Sports Town to win at 3-1 or greater, keying him in exactas and trifectas with Cherokee Country and Silver Source.

Running Totals: (21) 8-6-5 ROI (win selections only): $52.60

Written by John Pricci

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