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, July 26, 2007

Sock It To Sok Sok In Sanford

Today’s featured Grade 2 Sanford Stakes has been highly anticipated as a return spot for The Roundhouse, one of the more visually impressive maiden winners in recent years. After trailing rivals badly in the early going in his June 15 debut at Monmouth Park, he was taken very wide entering the stretch and roared home to win going away.

Juveniles break their maidens in many ways, but you don’t see what this colt did every day.

So, is he good enough to make it two straight? Not if Equiform performance figures are the measure. The line-maker gives him no respect either, 12-1, preferring uncoupled stablemate Ready’s Image (9-5).

Three others deserve serious consideration in this wide open renewal. From the rail out, Tale of Ekati (5-1), Sok Sok (8-1) and Fed Watcher (3-1).

Tale Of Ekati was most impressive drawing away from five rivals in his July 7 debut. But then so was Fed Watcher, beating seven rivals on June 30. Fed Watcher earned the clearly better figure but Tale Of Ekati did it at 5-˝ furlongs, not five. That’s significant when juveniles are asked to go six furlongs for the first time.

Ready’s Image is a deserving favorite. He has the most experience with three starts and is the most accomplished, having won the Tremont at Belmont last out. The Tremont has produced six winners of this race. He is the co-fastest horse and enjoys a slight pace edge, which he’ll need breaking from the outside in a field of nine.

We think Sok Sok’s the most interesting. He rallied from sixth off fast fractions following a poor start in an 11-horse field, and showed enough pop to win by three. He distributes his energy well and has worked five times since the maiden win. Steve Asmussen is a profitable 29 percent with his two-year-olds. Value should be fair.

Taking Sok Sok to win at 5-1 or greater. Also making trifecta keys with Sok Sok and Ready’s Image first, with Tale Of Ekati and Fed Watcher beneath.

Running Totals: (66) 30-13-10 Dollar Return: $171.10

Written by John Pricci

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Schuylerville Figures To Go According To Plan

The Schuylerville, a Grade 3 stakes for juvenile fillies at six furlongs, traditionally has raised the curtain on America’s best race meet. And that’s the way it is again as Saratoga begins its 139th season.

Fillies are usually faster to develop than colts and a look at today’s field gives you some indication why. They’re all fast and precocious. Did I mention fast?

Thus far in their brief careers, According To Plan (5-2) has been the second fastest of these fast fillies. She won her career debut by 4-Ľ lengths in :56 1/5 for five furlongs at Belmont Park. But it was more about how she ran fast.

She took early pressure through blistering fractions yet drew off while only being shown the whip of Cornelio Velasquez. Trainer Barclay Tagg has been profitably rolling along in the past 90 days, and with second-time runners in his career. And obviously the filly has more to give if two recent workouts are an indication. Fast and visually impressive, According To Plan enjoys a slight edge on pace figures.

A majority share in Subtle Aly (4-1) was purchased by crafty New York-based connections and turned over to trainer Rick Dutrow after he debut. She’s the fastest filly in the field, earning a top performance figure by racing 4-˝ furlongs at Churchill Downs in a blurry :50 2/5. She has longer recovery time between starts than her main rivals and Dutrow’s a profitable 30 percent effective with new acquisitions.

The filly who might fall through the wagering cracks is Blitzing (8-1). She has enough gas to attend a rapid pace from her outside slip and enough stamina to out-kick her rivals later, like she did in her Churchill Downs debut. Her outside post can help keep the odds slightly inflated and Shawn Bridgmohan is a very worthy 32 percent riding for Steve Asmussen.

We’ll start Saratoga by taking According To Plan to win at 9-5 or more, keying her first and second in exacta boxes with Subtle Aly and Blitzing.

Running Totals: (65) 30-13-10 Dollar Return: $171.10

Written by John Pricci

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Accountforthegold Completes Final Formful Weekend At Belmont

Fitting that on the last weekend before racing shifts to Saratoga,
Todd Pletcher and Gary Contessa, one-two in the trainer’s standings
for virtually the entire Belmont Park meet, should have odds-on
favorites in the final two stakes.

Pletcher got the job done yesterday with Octave in the Coaching Club
Oaks. Contessa, who will win the training title by virtue of sheer
numbers while having a career year, figures to match Pletcher here,
winner for odds-on winner, with Accountforthegold (1-1) in today’s
Evan Shipman Handicap for older state-bred males going 1-1/16 miles.

On paper, he shouldn’t be beaten and it’s futile to try. On
performance figures, he is the fastest horse in the race, and by a
huge margin. His last race, the Gander, in which he won by almost
double digits, gives him a double-digit figure advantage over today’s
rivals. It’s hard to envision the 126-pound assignment deterring him;
not that top-weight and the rail are an enviable combination in
handicaps, but there has to be some drama in a horse race, yes?

The only other rival that interests us is Shuffling Madness (10-1),
making his second start off the layoff for Del Carroll. That layoff
was a four-month break, the only rest he’s gotten in over a year, and
his recent effort looked like a good prep for this. But it's the
scenario that's interesting. He has finished in the money in four of
five starts on this track, including a win, and owns a worthy 3-2-2
slate in nine starts at the distance. He’s one for nine at any other

We have no choice but to take Accountforthegold to win, no price
restrictions, and an exacta box with Shuffling Madness.

Running Totals: (64) 30-12-10 Dollar Total: $171.10

Written by John Pricci

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