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, January 07, 2009

No Guts; No Glory

It didn’t take long to identify the post time favorite for tomorrow’s preliminary allowance sprint for state-breds at 6 furlongs. Legal Counsel (2-1) is turning back from a pari of rapidly run routes to the distance at which he won the Breeders’ Futurity in September at Finger Lakes. There’s plenty of speed in front of him, he worked a bullet, is drawn nicely outside and picks up Ramon Dominguez. I harbor no illusions; he’s a deserving favorite and will be a tough out.

But Head Heart Hoof (12-1) is just too tempting at double-digit early line odds. Coming off a new pace top with a strong quarter-mile pace figure despite a tardy start from the rail post, he appears to be the speed of the speed here, after having earned a strong internal figure in a mile route three starts back that’s competitive with the favorite. Everything must go right, of course, including the break, but Eddie Castro is a talented, aggressive and position conscious rider who will give his mount every chance given an outside draw which suits today’s scenario.

Taking Head Hoof Heart to win at 10-1 or greater, boxing him in the exacta with Legal Counsel, and keying him in all trifecta money positions, adding That’s Rich (5-1) and Smokin Hero to the mix.

Running Totals: (338) 102-70-45. Total Dollar Return: $705.10 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Sunday, January 04, 2009

McLaughlin’s Filly Aint Just Whistlin’ Dixie

Today’s Ruthless for three-year-old filly sprinters, like yesterday’s Count Fleet, attracted another prohibitive choice in Justwhistledixie. The competition is likely to come from J.J. Cuvee and Gnome’s Delight.

Gnome’s Delight, given her pace figures, is highly likely to gain the lead. Two-for-three lifetime, both sprints, she was seasoned going long in Delaware’s Blue Hen and it appeared to help in the maturing process. Josue Arce, regular rider for Scott Lake at Delaware Valley racetracks, ships in for the ride. The filly drops four pounds and has been working bullets or near bullets since her last.

J.J. Cuvee goes first time for trainer Seth Benzel and she, too, has been working very well for this; significantly those works came over today’s surface. She was able to pair up her Equiform performance figures in her second start and showed improved energy distribution. She seems poised for a forward move and will be a square price.

But Justwhistledixie seems to have too much ability for this group. She’s never taken a backward step in four lifetime starts and a repeat of either of her last two efforts would swamp this group. She, too, has worked rapidly for this and with Alan Garcia at Gulfstream for the winter, Rajiv Maragh picks up the mount for Kiaran McLaughlin.

Taking Justwhistledixie to win, no price restrictions, keying her first and second in exactas and trifectas, with an extra ticket on top in the exacta.

Running Totals: (337) 101-70-45. Total Dollar Return: $702.30 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Next Smarty Jones?

The New York road to the Kentucky Derby, believe it or not, takes its first step today with the Count Fleet Stakes at a mile and a sixteenth for newly turned three-year-old. So, is Haynesfield the next Smarty Jones, who won this race on the way to Louisville?

Maybe, and maybe not. Clearly, however, the 8-5 early line favorite cannot be beaten on paper no matter whose figures you look at. His Equiform figure of 76-¼ was huge while winning the state-bred Damon Runyon. Further, he showed improved energy distribution despite the way the frontrunning score looked. Connections of Asmussen and Pletcher are top notch, obviously, and how he deals with early pressure to come from Mike From Queens is the only question. We might find out today if he can rate.

Gary Contessa saddles the entry of Pitched Perfectly and Bad Action. Both seemed equipped to pull off the upset if the favorite falters. The former is coming off a new pace top on the Equiform scale (actually a double top, but never has taken a backward step, a positive mitigating factor). Mate Bad Action is experienced, also never has gone backward, and showed an affinity for distance racing in his two-turn debut last out. He’s nicely positioned with an underrated rider.

Taking Haynesfield to win, no price restrictions, a boxed exacta with the Contessa entry, extra tickets with Haynesfield on top.

Running Totals: (336) 100-70-45. Total Dollar Return: $699.30 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


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