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, January 10, 2008

Right Moment for Recent Claim

Todays feature is on the mundane side, a non-winners of 3 lifetime, optional $35,000 claimer that attracted a few old friends and very familiar names among the training ranks.

The three major contenders are, from inside, out: Maddys Lion (5-1), My Cousin Matt (5-2) and Royal Moment (3-1).

Maddys Lion might offer value given his lower profile connections. Hes a two-time winner on this surface and all five lifetime wins have come at todays distance. He was narrowly beaten last time out and is versatile, either as an off-the-pace runner or a stalker from close range. Pablo Fragoso takes the re-ride and trainer Tim Hills is a profitable 19% efficient when his horses make their third starts off a layup.

My Cousin Matt is, from memory, the horse with the best performance figures. The 9-year-old veteran won both since starts following Tony Dutrows claim, even if one came last season here, necessitating a lengthy layoff. But he returned at Delaware Park Oct. 28 with a game come-again victory in an unintended match. He, too, is a dual winter-track winner and he owns eight victories at todays six-furlong trip. Ramon Dominguez rides him back here.

Royal Moment is a sharp winner of his latest and was claimed from Steve Asmussen by Gary Contessa, pretty much a wash at this level. In fact, Contessa is a profitable 19 % first time off the claim and is another at home as a rallier or a stalker. He has finished off the board once in 14 starts at the distance, including four wins, and loves the surface, evidenced by his (5) 2-1-1 slate. Elliott gets along nicely with this guy and retains the mount despite the barn change. His outer position in a relatively small field should insure a pleasant trip.

Royal Moment is the percentage play at 5-2 or greater. Also, key him in exactas first and second with Maddys Lion and My Cousin Matt.

Running Totals: (159) 57-34-17. Total Dollar Return: $358.40 [win selections only}

Written by John Pricci

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

When In Doubt, Go Long

The New York racing week begins with an overnight stakes, the Fiesta Lady, for four-year-fillies at six furlongs.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I must say what I think: another relatively small field, another highly contentious race.

Any of the four wouldnt surprise, from the inside, out: Ticket To Seattle (4-1), Golden Dawn (8-1), Dani Tom Boy (9-5) and Ghost Dancing (2-1). But the problem with them and some of the others is that they are best in front. And choosing the speed of the speed isnt easy here.

Ticket To Seattle is, by definition, the fastest and has been battle tested in consistently tougher company. But shes an in-and-out sort who needs the lead. She is, however, working very well and could outclass the group should she speed-pop and scoot away early.

Golden Dawn is coming off a pair of lifetime best efforts following a barn change to Mike Hushion and generally its hard to project a third straight forward move. But the races werent too fast as to automatically signal a regression and its very interesting to note that Hushion if 5 for his last 10 starts with runners making their third start off a layup.

As the racetrack clich goes, Dani Tom Boy ran to parts unknown in her latest while coming off a layup. Trainer Ben Perkins stats actually improve in second start following a lengthy layup and, visually, her turn-move last time had to be seen to be appreciated. But the figure was so extraordinary that she just has to regress. But that win came on this surface and if she speed-pops the field.

Ghost Dancing comes from the Tony Dutrow barn that excels with long-layup returnees. She won on this surface last season and earned competitive figures as an early season three-year-old. If set for best best--and her best will be needed--she has the upside and connections (Ramon Dominguez up) to get the job done.

Ticket, Dani and Ghost all qualify as most probable winners, thats why we must opt for potential value. Taking Golden Dawn to win at 6-1 or greater and keying her second and third in exactas and trifectas with the three more likely contenders.

Running Totals: (158) 56-34-17. Total Dollar Return: $347.60 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Where There’s Early Smoke, There’s Fire

Todays feature is the Ruthless for three-year-old fillies sprinting six furlongs. A closely matched group, at least half the fillies entered could win it. Well look at three, from the rail out, Expect the Wind (9-5), Carolyns Cat (5-2) and Noble Fire (4-1).

The favorite has been toughened by a series of stakes races and has gained super conditioning from recent appearances going longer. Ambitiously placed in the Grade 2 Demoiselle, she won her last two sprint appearances, handling state-bred stakes fillies with authority. Shes a deserving favorite.

Carolyns Cat broke through with a top performance figure last out and was wisely given recovery time by trainer Kairan McLaughlin. But while on the sidelines shes been training up a storm, including a pair of very sharp half-mile works in her last two preps. She likely will be stalking from close range beneath Alan Garcia, her only rider in three lifetime appearances.

Noble Fire is part of an uncoupled pair from Linda Rice. A good third in a restricted stakes two back, she showed much improved early speed last time, earning a career best pace figure, and was still around at the finish. Position conscious Rajiv Maragh picks up the mount on the only major contender here with a race over the winter surface.

Taking the value offered on Noble Fire at 3-1 or greater, and keying her in exacta boxes first and second with the two listed contenders.

Running Totals: (157) 56-34-17. Total Dollar Return: $347.60 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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