Pricci's Free Daily Feature Race Analysis

Whenever his daily work schedule permits, HorseRaceInsider executive editor John Pricci will analyze that day's feature race from a major thoroughbred-racing jurisdiction.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Taking Longer Uncoupled Mate in Open Race a Sound Strategy

Today’s Four Bases Stakes for horses that have not won a stakes at a mile on turf this year might actually get to be run on the grass with good weather in the New York area recently--although snow showers were predicted for Tuesday.

Meanwhile, it appears that Christophe Clement has this surrounded with a strong uncoupled entry of Nergal (7-2) and Operation Red Dawn (3-1). His main contenders appear to be Al Basha (6-1) and Pick Six (6-1).

Nergal is a late developing five-year-old gelding whose performance figures have been forging forward incrementally, indicating further development is possible. He draws the fence, attracts Ramon Dominguez, and appears to class up nicely given his recent third in the Grade 3 Cliff Hanger at the Meadowlands. The 1-1/16th miles suits nicely.

Operation Red Dawn is the logical favorite and most probable winner. He has been highly competitive in recent graded stakes, including a very game third despite a wide trip over soft ground in the G2 Kelso Handicap. But it’s his versatility, an ability to act over any footing, that suits him very well here and does reuniting with Alan Garcia, aboard for this gelding’s most recent victory.

Al Basha has disappointed often this season but it’s not as if the 4-year-old hasn’t raced well on most occasions. His figures are competitive and consistent and the switch to Rajiv Maragh augurs well considering the success he’s enjoyed riding for Angel Penna Jr. this season. Interesting to note, too, that Penna is 38 percent profitable in these non-graded stakes events.

Pick Six, meanwhile, is very sharp, improving with competitive figures and has been going well recently with today’s partner Cornelio Velasquez. He must prove, however, whether he’s as effective at today’s trip as he is going a bit shorter.

We’ll opt for whatever value is offered on Nergal to win at 7-2 or greater, keying him first and second in exactas with Operation Red Dawn and Al Basha--extra ticket with the former--and in trifectas as well, adding Pick Six, and the fast strong-working absentee, Buddy's Humor (8-1), to that mix.

Running Totals: (312) 95-64-41. Total Dollar Return: $650.20 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Z Humor No Laughing Matter for Pass the Tab Rivals

With yesterday’s races taken off the turf and with heavy rains in the area all Saturday night, we can’t believe that today’s Pass the Tab Stakes, for horses that have not won a stakes on turf at a mile or more this year, will remain on the grass. Therefore out selection here is for a wet main track only.

Z Humor (6-1) hasn’t really shown any development as a three-year-old after winning the Delta Jackpot last December. So, this is his time of year and, while his figures have not improved this season, they’re more than fast enough to compete with this group.

Used hard setting a strong pace in the Grade 2 Jerome, he kept trying while tiring after being displaced on the lead. The race was better than it looks on paper. After anticipated scratches, his outside draw will augur well and he’s getting a great deal of class relief in this spot. Chalk this one up for the Pletcher/Velazquez team, but at nowhere near his quoted overnight line.

Taking Z Humor to win at 3-1 or greater.

Running Totals: (311) 95-64-40. Total Dollar Return: $650.20 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Hail Mary from Temporary Saint

Today’s Grade 3 Stuyvesant Handicap finds this solid field in various states of form. But some appear on the precipice of regression, some are too close to call, or their class lines are spotty, their current form unknowable. Frankly, it’s not the kind of race we will get heavily involved in but have found one interesting entrant who should be fair odds.

Temporary Saint is a recent refugee from the claming ranks but don’t hold that against him. This spring, in his third start of the year, he made the transition from $50,000 Bruce Levine claim to G3 winner, more significantly on this track, at today’s distance.

His pattern coming into this is almost identical and the five-year-old gelding has run well in several barns including his present one, David Jacobson’s. Coming back on short rest is a barn specialty and the gelding returns on eight days rest coming out off a rapidly run mile won by the talented, albeit enigmatic Bribon, in which he chased a strong pace while racing on the inside throughout. Significantly, he drops seven pounds off that effort and retains the aggressive Eddie Castro.

Taking Temporary Saint to win at 5-1 or greater and keying him in exactas with late developing four-year-old Solar Flare, shipping in for Larry Jones, and the super-sharp state-bred, Stud Muffin.

Running Totals: (310) 95-64-39. Total Dollar Return: $650.20 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


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