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.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

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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Friday, May 25, 2007

Lemon Drop Looks Sweet In Belmont Feature

As always, turf sprints are difficult to predict but consequently provide ample opportunities for value. Such is the case in today’s Caress Stakes for fillies and mares on the Belmont inner turf course at six furlongs. Two we find most intriguing are Lemon Drop Gal (3-1) and Queen Amira (5-1).

Queen Amira is making her second start of the campaign for Bill Mott and attracts Garrett Gomez. The filly was compromised in her recent return by yielding ground and the resultant very slow pace. The opportunity for her to kick on in late stretch was not afforded her. She will be a much tougher filly this afternoon. She has a performance figure last fall that is the equal of anything in here.

Lemon Drop Gal has been proven to be fast and with greater consistency. She’s never finished worse than second in three starts on this course and, unlike many of her rivals today, she has proven more effective at the six-furlong distance than when sprinting five-eighths. She gives away recent conditioning to many of her rivals here but has trained purposefully, and quickly, for her five-year-old debut. She owns tactical speed and good late pace.

Taking Lemon Drop Gal to win at 5-2 or greater and an exacta box with Queen Amira.

Running Totals: (29) 12-8-7 ROI: $70.00 (based on win selections only)

Written by John Pricci

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pletcher Returnee Looms Large

Today’s classy feature at Belmont Park, a “..non-winners of 4 other/than, optional $100,000 claimer..” for older horses has drawn a field of six going 1-1/16th miles. One of the entants looks obvious and is the one to beat. The other might be an interesting price play.

The logical favorite is the five-year-old Harlington, a horse with obvious issues. Otherwise, how can you explain a career that spans seven career starts and four layoffs? But Harlington has made the most of those opportunities, winning five of the seven, often in top company.

Before considering taking a shot against the Pletcher trainee, know this: Harlington has never been beaten returning from a layup, including a win in his career debut. Can you say goes well when fresh? Fast and classy, he will be a very tough out.

Thanks Dubya is a recent claim by trainer Pat Reynolds. That alone makes him formidable. Reynolds is 23% efficient in his first start following a claim and has excellent results returning from this type of short layup. He’s profitable in both categories.

Not that far behind the favorite on performance figures, Thanks Dubya has worked well recently for Reynolds, can be the controlling speed in a short field and attracts the aggressive Eibar Coa. With expected improvement, he looms an upset possibility.

But we must take Harlington to win, no price restrictions, and an exacta box with Thanks Dubya.

Running Totals: (27) 11-7-7 (excluding Wednesday's results). ROI: $66.40 (win selections only).

Written by John Pricci

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