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, 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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Saturday, August 11, 2007

On Paper, Sword Dancer Now A One Horse Affair

With the anticipated scratch of Better Talk Now from the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational due to a minor injury, the strong match-up between Graham Motionís gelding and English Channel that was highly anticipated wonít happen.

Figure the odds on English Channel (8-5) to be around 1-2 at post time. On paper, he looks unbeatable and we wonít try. But thatís not to say thereís not an interesting upstart in here.

His name is Always First and hails from the top Maryland outfit of trainer Tommy Voss. What makes him a little special here is his affinity for todayís marathon route and an ability to handle less than firm footing, which is the prospect today.

Six-year-old gelding is in top form, has earned most of his money at todayís route, going seven-for-eight in the money at 12 furlongs, including three victories, and his best figure was earned over soft ground at Arlington Park last out in the G3 Stars N Stripes.

He has a puncherís chance with Cornelio Velasquez in the boot but will be hard pressed to beat the favorite thatís won four Grade 1s in the last year.

Taking English Channel to win, no price restrictions, and the only play weíll make is an exacta box with Always First, an additional ticket with the favorite on top.

Running Totals: (77) 34-16-10 Dollar Return: $197.70 [win selections only] (Friday results not included)

Written by John Pricci

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Friday, August 10, 2007

All Todd All The TIme

An overnight stakes, The Heed, for three-year-old fillies going a mile on the inner turf. There is a forecast for showers. Should the race be rescheduled to the main track, Awesome Ashley would be the most probable winner.

Meanwhile, todayís winner likely will come from the Todd Pletcher shed, anyway, such was the quality of Christies Treasureís (3-1) recent effort. She would have won the Tweedside had it not been for a bad stumble leaving the gate. Following that might have been a premature move into contention. She finished one-paced late. But the pace was slow, too, and the pace was hungry. Still, her performance figure vs. older fillies was the fastest on the page.

The competition will come from Pay Wright (9-2), Unspoken Word (4-1) and Luna Dorado (15-1) and Le Chateau (20-1).

Pay Wright should benefit from her recent prep race vs. colts. She raced well on Spa grass last year and stretches to a more suitable distance and reunites with Eibar Coa, aboard for both recent victories. She has tactical speed and the pole, too.

Unspoken Word set the pace when third behind Christies Treasure two back and she earns good figures with consistency. She picks up hot riding Kent Desormeaux.

Luna Dorada is a huge price on the early line. She earned a competitive figure when narrowly beaten over yielding ground in one of these two back in Churchill and her effort in the Grade 3 Regret was better than it looked.

Le Chateau is a late developing Chester House filly thatís been ambitiously placed in recent starts. She makes her first start for Wayne Lukas and switches to Cornelio Velasquez, Wayneís go-to guy in Saratoga. She took can prove an interest price play.

Taking Christies Treasure to win at 2-1 or greater and keying her first and second in trifectas with the four other fillies.

Running Totals: (77) 34-16-10 Dollar Return $197.70 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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