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, August 16, 2007

No Shortage of Talent in Intriguing Saratoga Special

Todayís feature is a terrific horse race and a fascinating handicapping exercise, the Grade 2 Saratoga Special for juvenile colts at 6-Ĺ furlongs.

Four horses will attract the most attention and rightfully so, from the rail out, Kodiak Kowboy (5-2), Sargent Seattle (2-1), Riley Tucker (3-1) and The Roundhouse (7-2).

Kodiak Kowboy is a deserving favorite. After winning a listed stakes at Woodbine, he shipped down to Churchill and won the G3 Bashford Manor, always a harbinger of quality in early season two-year-old stakes. His performance figure was fast and heís had sufficient recovery time (40 days) since. The rail post is winning at a 20 percent rate in recent Spa sprints. The Kentucky team of Steve Asmussen and Shawn Bridgmohan are the connections.

Sargent Seattle was a visually impressive maiden breaker over this racetrack for Stanley Hough, earning a competitive figure, and returned with a strong half-mile work subsequently. The :47 2/5 drill was third fastest of 61 on the day. Of the major contenders, heís the only one with a winning race over the course.

Riley Tucker returns for Bill Mott after breaking his maiden with style in his very well meant debut. His figure was competitive and the 1:01 drill since should toughen him sufficiently for todayís demanding assignment. Edgar Prado rides the son of Harlanís Holiday.

The Roundhouse was a very willing third behind impressive stablemate Readyís Image in the Sanford on the second day of this meet, and thatís after being bumped fairly soundly at the break and carried wide into the stretch. Since heís coming back a little quick for the Todd Pletcher barn (3 weeks) heís had a usefully soft half-mile work in :49, a move termed breezing, with the hope that the work will keep him right where he is now. Garrett Gomez has the mount.

Itís a tough call for the win between the top and bottom horses; Kodiak Kowboy having an experience and position edge; The Roundhouse owning an edge on performance figures and a race over the track. Itís even harder to know which horse the crowd will prefer.

Taking The Roundhouse to win at 5-2 or greater, an exacta box with Kodiak Kowboy of equal strength, using the other two colts to fill out trifecta positions in the second and third spots.

Running Totals: (81) 36-17-10 Dollar Return: $211.30 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Monday, August 13, 2007

On Turf, Take Experience Over Speed

Todayís feature is the Troy, an overnight stakes for older horses going 5-Ĺ furlongs on the Mellon turf course. There have been many short sprints run at this meet but this is the first we can remember for top echelon horses.

For us, this comes down to a three-horse affair, including both halves of the Saeed bin Suroor stable entry, Council Member and Afrashaad (6-5), second favorite First Word (3-1) and short-sprint specialist T.D. Vance (6-1).

The entry will be hard to beat. On performance figures Afrashaad is the fastest horse in here and by a significant margin. If he takes to the grass at all, being a first-time turfer, he will probably lead throughout. Stablemate Council Member showed an explosive turn of foot on the main track at Belmont this spring but won listed sprint stakes on turf in Europe. They will be formidable.

First Word is a Bobby Frankel trainee who finished second after making a bold mid-move in the listed Notoriety Stakes at seven furlongs. The turn-back suits his running style and Frankel is effective with horses shortening up. Grass maven Edgar Prado gets the call.

T. D. Vance is the interesting horse at early line odds. Never off the board in short turf sprints, he earned a good figure at this distance on the Keeneland turf last fall. A fresh five-year-old gelding, heís stakes tough and won the Grade 2 Hall of Fame here as a three-year-old. Garrett Gomez, aboard for that Keeneland sprint, takes the call. Heís been working very well at his Fair Hill training center base.

Weíll take T. D. Vance to win at 4-1 or greater. Also making an exacta box with either or both halves of the Suroor entry and a trifecta part wheel of T. D. Vance and the Suroor entry first with those two and First Word in the second and third trifecta positions.

Running Totals: (79) 34-17-10 Dollar Return: $197.70 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Seeking Value In West Point

Todayís feature, the West Point Handicap for older state-bred runners at nine furlongs on the Mellon Course is usually a good betting race and this renewal is no exception. But itís a little too good (read hard) of a wagering event.

We left five horses open for consideration. Each has merit, obviously, but they will need the right trip, the smartest handling. From the inside, out: Classic Fran (8-1), Dave (3-1), Golden Commander (5-2), Red Zipper (4-1) and Pa Pa Da (10-1).

Classic Fran has always been competitive with this group but seldom has gotten over the top. Now it goes first time for Gary Contessa, a profitable 21 percent efficient off the claim and picks up Rafael Bejarano, 1-for-1 aboard the horse. An alert break is desirable here since there will be traffic to deal with if he lags in the early going.

Dave is a horse for the course (5) 2-1-1 and comes back off the month layup for Barclay Tagg, profitable in that scenario. Second in this race last year and with competitive performance figures, heíll be happy to be back at the Spa.

Golden Commander loves it here (5) 3-0-1, benefits from a brief freshening and has go-back figures that are tops in the group. He reunites with Edgar Prado, aboard for his last win, and hails from the Serpe shed thatís lifetime profitable at the Spa and in non-graded stakes, and heís one of the live trainers at this meet.

Red Zipper comes from a key race that produced three next out winners and drops from open Grade 1 company. One for one on Spa turf and (2) 1-1-0 at nine furlongs, he can set the pace or stalk from close range. He will appreciate the turn-back from 10 furlongs.

Finally comes Pa Pa Da, a big price on the early line who probably should have won last yearís edition, coming from far back after being virtually eliminated at the start. Dave Donk, profitable in non-graded company, switches to Ramon Dominguez, and they are 27 percent profitable as a team.

Like I said, this oneís tough, and we wonít take a short price.

Weíre betting Red Zipper to win at early line odds of 4-1 or greater, and keying him in all three trifecta positions with the other listed contenders.

Running Totals: (78) 34-16-10 Dollar Return: $197.70 [win selections only] {Saturdayís results not included}

Written by John Pricci

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