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.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sun King Taking Dead Aim On First Grade 1

Today’s Memorial Day feature at Belmont Park is the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, the storied “Met Mile.” Victory In this race virtually assures a profitable stud career for any stallion good enough to win it.

This year’s renewal doesn’t boast a household name, but rather a handful of legitimate G1 types bidding to become future legends. Consequently, however, it’s a great betting race.

Four horses, and another if the track is wet at post time, have a serious chance to win this open renewal. From the inside out: Lawyer Ron (5-2), Sun King (5-1), Silver Wagon (3-1), Silent Name (8-1) and the wet-track lover, Accountforthegold (15-1).

All five are within a couple of lengths on performance figures and there’s not that much disparity in the weight assignments. Open race, indeed.

Lawyer Ron, 3-for-3 at the distance and 2-for-2 on wet tracks, pointed toward this by Todd Pletcher, is the most probable winner. Toughened on the Triple Crown trail last year, he’s ready to come into his own at 4. His most recent figure was a lifetime best, and he’s had sufficient recover time.

Silver Wagon is probably the most accomplished but is most likely better at seven furlongs. His late kick fit’s the speedy race shape here perfectly. Sun King has knocked heads consistently in top company, racing very well, but is still a nose shy of that illusive grade one title. He, too, is very much suited by conditions, given his big late engine, and appeared a short horse in his prep, the recent G3 Westchester. Perhaps the switch to Eibar Coa might finally turn the trick.

Silent Name is an interesting dark horse in that he is a top class miler on turf, won on Polytrack last out in fast time, in this looks like the logical place to find out if he’s G1 quality on dirt. He seems much improved this year. The attraction for 15-1 Accountforthegold is his performance figure earned at a mile on a wet track, among the fastest on the page.

On a fast track, we’ll take the value offered on Sun King to win at 4-1 or greater and an exacta box with Lawyer Ron. The gusto play is keying Sun King first and second in trifectas with all four horses.

Running Totals: (31) 13-8-7 Return: $74.30 (win selections only)

Written by John Pricci

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sometimes You Just Need To Go For It

Today’s feature at Belmont Park, the Grade 3 Jaipur Stakes for three-year-olds and Up on the inner turf at six furlongs is, simply stated, a great betting race. Of course, you need to pick the winner and apply the best wagering strategy. We believe the reward will be worth the risk..

The attractiveness is betting against early line favorite at 7-2, Will He Shine. A talented sprinter? Yes. Turf experience? No. We won’t pay the privilege to find out if he likes grass at short odds, especially suitable pedigree for the surface in question. And this is a salty group for all, anyway.

From the rail out, there are five horses of interest: Salute The Count (8-1); Metro Meteor (12-1); Congo King (4-1); Weigelia (9-2) and Southern Missile (20-1). We’ll look at two that will key our play.

Congo King’s future is on turf. The four-year-old proved as much in two recent turf stakes vs. strong sprint competition, earning competitive performance figures in his first races for a new barn, Patrick Biancone’s. King has demonstrated enough tactical speed and kick, which fits the speedy race shape here, picks up a position conscious Johnny Velazquez, and worked a bullet half-mile in preparation.

Metro Meteor, meanwhile. is making his second start as a four-year-old and first for very live connections, the Winning Move Stable/Gary Contessa team. Contessa is a winning 21 percent with his starters first off the claim, and the colt demonstrated enough class and kick on the grass at 3 to run down the speed here, with expected improvement, from his inside post at generous odds.

The competition is strong, including the very fast Salute The Count from the rail; the classy winner of last year‘s Jaipur, Weigelia, and the very sharp longshot, Southern Missile, whose only knock is his outside draw.

We believe it permissible on occasion to wager on more than one horse in a race. So we’re taking both Congo King and Metro Meteor to win. Each will be tallied in running-total results. Further, because of the odds involved, we’re making another aggressive play. We’re using each horse as trifecta keys first and second, with Salute The Count, Weigelia and Southern Missile.

Running Totals: (30) 12-9-7 Return: $70.00 (win selections only)

Written by John Pricci

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Pletcher Must Beat Himself In Sheepshead Bay

When you train almost 200 head, you’re going to wind up in spots where you’ll have yourself to beat. And when that trainer is Todd Pletcher, it will happen more often than not, especially when big money’s on the line.

Pletcher saddles the first and second choices in today’s Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Handicap at 11 furlongs on the Belmont inner turf course. It would be hard to defeat one of them, much less both. They will go uncoupled in the wagering.

Honey Ryder (8-5) is a most worthy favorite. While she never got untracked vs. males in Dubai, she now returns to her home base and, most significantly, at her most effective distance. There aren’t many distaffers than can compile a 5-for-8 slate going this far.

Honey Ryder holds a class edge, is consistently fastest on performance figures, and attracts Garrett Gomez. There should be an honest pace for her to run at, even at a marathon route.

Part of that pace should come from mate Safari Queen (5-2), with regular stable rider Johnny Velazquez. But this five-year-old mare’s speed is tactical. She can stalk from close range until ready or set a controlled pace. Her figures keep improving and she’s a serious threat to the favorite on her ‘A’ race. The difficulty is how to take any money from this match-up.

Betting Honey Ryder to win, no price restrictions, and an exacta box with Safari Queen. We’ll try to spice things up, keying Honey Ryder first in trifectas, with Safari Queen and longshot (10-1) La Dolce Vita second and third. The Mark Hennig trainee draws inside with Edgar Prado and comes out of a Calder key race that produced two winners from three subsequent starters.

Running Totals: (29) 12-8-7 [does not reflect Friday's results]. ROI: $70.00 (based on win selections)

Written by John Pricci

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