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, October 30, 2008

You Won’t Get Very Far With this Filly

Today’s featured sprint for fillies and mares is a secondary allowances/optional claiming event at six furlongs. The good news is that one of the fillies appears unbeatable. She probably also will be unbettable.

It doesn’t seem possible that Elope (1-1) can get beat. If I were guaranteed even money, I might be tempted to bet enough to retire the national debt. But I don’t think I need to worry about it. She’ll be half the early line at post time, perhaps even less.

After impressing in her debut as a late season three year old, she didn’t begin 2008 until Saratoga. Obviously she has issues. Just as arguably, she can run!

She won her four year old debut by earning a performance figure that would win most stakes races, graded stakes at that. She absolutely had to regress in her second start, in which she moved up to the G2 level. But she finished a good second. To Indian Blessing no less!

The only way to possibly make money on this is to take some a one way exacta and a cold trifecta to block. Here’s how that works. Loving Vindication is 5-2 in the morning line and is a fast filly herself. But since her recent figures were earned at 5-½ furlongs and not six, she may be vulnerable. Besides, if you need to cash a $4 exacta, you probably need the money and should wager, anyway.

The filly we like to complete the exacta is Just Zip It (8-1). She earns good figures at this level and does so with laudable consistency. She also owns the right running style, having tactical speed and kick. Nicely freshened and well drawn, she will be running late for the team of Billy Turner and Channing Hill. She’s never finished off-the-board in seven starts at this trip, including her only three lifetime victories.

Elope is the obvious choice, with no price restrictions. We’ll take her in a cold exacta with Just Zip It, and a cold trifecta with Just Zip It third, using only Loving Vindication to split the one-way exacta.

Running Totals: (302) 92-62-37 Total Dollar Return: $608.80 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Can’t Wait to Get On Board Again

Of the seven entered in today’s opening day feature at Aqueduct, a secondary allowances at a flat (one-turn) mile, only two appear interesting: the favorite, On Board Again (8-5), Amped (8-1) and Helsinki.

On Board Again is a worthy favorite. Now making his fourth start after over a year on the sidelines, he appears ready for best now. After all, the blinkers really made a difference last out. He showed much improved early speed, mid-moved to the lead, and held grudgingly, as if he enjoyed being a race horse again. Two of his lifetime best efforts came either over today’s surface or at today’s distance. Nicely drawn outside, he’s well suited to the race shape.

Amped, meanwhile, has been recycled by the Zito . Apparently, he got blitzed having to compete in the Travers and awaited Aqueduct to take to the track again. He’s fresh, has run fast enough to compete with these on performance figures and goes for a barn and returns over a distance at which he broke his maiden earlier this year. Hot riding Rajiv Maragh gets the call.

Helsinki makes his first start since leaving the Zito barn, making his four-year-old debut here for John Terranova, who’s a very worthy and profitable 22% efficient with horses returning from a lengthy layup. Grade 1 and G2 placed in the Travers and Brooklyn Handicap, respectively, the latter vs. elders last year, he’s been working well and steadily for the last two months.

But I’m afraid this favorite has too many advantages and is the most probable winner; no price restrictions here. Taking On Board Again to win, and keying him first and second in exactas and trifectas with Amped and Helsinki.

Running Totals: (301) 91-62-37 Total Dollar Return: $605.10 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Friday, October 24, 2008

All Hail Zenyatta

Our analysis of the feature race today, from Santa Anita Park.

Ladies Classic, Nine Furlongs

The great television host Harvey Pack was always fond of saying “never bet a horse to do anything it hasn’t done before as the favorite.” Which is a convoluted way of saying bet against Zenyatta at your peril. The one thing she’s never done is lose. By definition the fastest horse, her figures are superior, she gets over the Pro-Ride better than any other synthetic surface, says the man on her back, her deep run style has never been compromised no matter how slowly her rivals try to back down the pace, and she’s coming off a “soft win” pattern, meaning her Lady’s Secret score was the perfect prep. Between Hysterical Lady, Ginger Punch and Bear Now breaking from the outside, the pace, if not fast, will be contested, enough to tip the scales in favor of the shortest-price favor over the two days of the event. She won her prep with disdainful ease and worked brilliantly since.

The other brilliant worker is Cocoa Beach (8-1). While recent figures may be wanting, she is undoubtedly on the march and does have that 78.5 to run back to, earned while winning the UAE 1000 Guineas. The workout indicates a fondness for Pro-Ride--at least in the mornings--and she really gets along (2-for-2) with the great Ramon Dominguez. A significant question is what to do with Carriage Trail (8-1) who absolutely freaked winning the G1 Spinster. This wouldn’t be the first time Shug McGaughey used the Spinster to win a “Dist…,” er, Ladies Classic. She’s loves the Keeneland Polytrack but Poly isn’t Pro-Ride. Given the rapid turnaround, she figures to regress from the 79, a huge top. That doesn’t mean she will; just that she figures to.

My personal wagering approach in this race will be to ignore defending champion and strong second favorite Ginger Punch (9/2). She’s a wonderful mare, no doubt, but she might be going in the wrong direction after two extremely enervating efforts at Saratoga prior to her non-excuses placing to Cocoa Beach in the Beldame. I am trying to defeat Music Note (6-1) even if she is an extremely talented filly. But while she seems to be marching forward again, this is her synthetic debut while meeting her elders for the first time. She has been very impressive visually but beating up on her own age group in small fields is a completely different ballgame. Clearly, the Ladies Classic, with an outside chance to crown a Horse of the Year in Zenyatta, it’s the least appealing betting race of the weekend.

Most Probable Winner: Zenyatta

Must Exactas: Cocoa Beach and Carriage Trail

Trifecta Mix: Music Note and Hysterical Lady

Running Totals Updated Upon Return to New York

Written by John Pricci


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