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.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Take Upside Potential In Contentious Sprint

Very contentious sprint--a non-winners of three allowances/optional $75,000 claiming at six furlongs--to begin the Belmont Park week. There are young developing horses on the come vs. several with back class and back figures that could win on their best efforts. Making sense of it all is tricky.

We’ll concentrate on three logical contenders, from the inside, out: Grand Champion (2-1) Bound Notebook (5-1) and City Attraction (5-2).

Grand Champion is developing very well at 4 for trainer Jimmy Jerkens. His last score at Saratoga was impressive enough and, coming back with more than five weeks rest, will appreciate the change in venue back to Belmont, where he’s run his best race. He has tactical speed, kick and should save ground. Eibar Coa, with his choice of mounts, rides this one back. The colt has two sharp works subsequent to his last race and will be a tough out here.

Bound Notebook loses Coa to Grand Champion but picks up Cornelio Velasquez. Of greater significance, he’s back at Belmont where he not only races best but where his performance figures are better than his rivals. He figures to get a comfortable trip here, breaking from the middle of eight rivals but he needs not to lose ground on Belmont’s wide turn. Unlucky in his last at the Spa, he benefits from the mini-turnback to six furlongs.

City Attraction is streaking for Trainer Rick Dutrow, who’s won four of 11 starts at this meet. He’s worked four times since his last start at Saratoga, indicating excellent fitness and conditioning, Javier Castellano, aboard for the 4-year-old’s first win since last year, rides him back. Mate Holly Time should provide good pace insurance if he starts, likely since Garrett Gomez was named to ride.

Love to take the likely value on Bound Notebook, but Grand Champion just has too much upside potential here. Taking Grand Champion to win at 2-1 or greater, keying him first and second in exactas with his major rivals.

Running Totals: (104) 39-25-11. Dollar Return: $227.30 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Red Zipper Unlocks Mystery of Ashley T. Cole

We have all been here before, déjà vu fans, with today’s 32nd running of the Ashley T. Cole for older state-breds at nine furlongs on the Belmont inner turf. It least it always seems that way when this group gets together: many familiar names, many disparate results.

We’ve seen them most recently in the West Point at Saratoga; same distance, different course configuration. And that can be the winning difference here. We’ll concentrate on three, from the inside out: Red Zipper (5-2), Al Basha (8-1) and Foreverness (9-2).

Red Zipper was an excellent second in the West Point. Forced to run after a loose leader probably sooner than Eibar Coa wanted. Making the lead prematurely between calls, she hung on gamely but could not hold off last run Classic Park. She makes her second start off a freshening here, has a worthy (5) 2-1-0 slate at Belmont and never has been worse than second in three starts at the distance, winning one.

Foreverness was in that West Point stretch battle with Red Zipper, also gained the lead but settled for third. Today he switches to underrated turf rider Jose Lezcano and back to his favorite course. Four of his six lifetime wins came on Belmont turf.

The interesting horse is the three-year-old Al Basha. Not as accomplished as his older brethren, he came into his own when stretched to today’s trip, twice a winner at nine furlongs in three starts, one of them coming over this course. Angel Penna Jr. has been having an excellent season and has made most of the right moves with this late developer since June.

Taking Red Zipper, the most probable winner, at early line odds or greater, and keying him first and second in exacta boxes with the other two.

Running Totals: (103) 39-25-11. Dollar Return: $227.30 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Protem Champ Back Home to Defend Her Turf

More stakes races on tap this afternoon at Belmont Park and, given the time of year, all interesting as the Breeders’ Cup championships approach.

The signature event, because of the presence of a classic winner, is the Gazelle featuring Rags To Riches, the 3-5 early line choice to win this nine furlong one-turner carded exclusively for three-year-old fillies.

I’m sure there will be some to say she's vulnerable today, given all the recent bad history, aborted or cancelled workouts, delayed schedules, races missed, and the like.

I’m not among them.

Is she vulnerable? Of course. They all get beat, the racetrackers say--and that's right. But your supposed to play this illogical game logically. In that content, she’s too classy, too fast, and too accomplished for these. Further, she loves to run outside horses and she has drawn the extreme outside slip in a short field.

As second choice, Lear’s Princess (2-1) may be vulnerable, too. Coming off a double top on the Equiform scale, she adds blinkers--not especially a dominating move for McLaughlin barn--turns back off two 10-furlongs tries which might mute her early speed, and she draws the pole. At the odds, she’s a toss.

The interesting filly is Dorm Fever (12-1). She’s coming off a career best but with sufficient rest, was very sharp in that seven furlong score and is well bred on the dam’s side for today's extra ground. Garrett Gomez takes the call for Jimmy Jerkens. At the price, she’s intriguing.

Rags To Riches is the most probable winner, but we’ll forsake a win play. Instead, taking an exacta box with price filly Dorm Fever, an extra ticket with the Belmont Stakes winner on top.

Running Totals: (102) 39-24-11. Dollar Return: $227.30 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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