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.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Pretty as a Picture in the Champagne

Not sure how today’s Grade 1 Champagne Stakes will impact the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile three weeks hence but I’m fairly certain there will be some Derby colts coming from this group--if they stay healthy and continue developing, of course.

We can make a case for four or five of these but instead will concentrate on two: Cribnote (4-1) and Munnings (6-1), the second and third finishers in the G1 Hopeful. Each had a rough trip but it’s not so much what happened during but what happened after the fact.

While watching the vent, I wasn’t sure Cribnote wanted to remain between the fences. He bore out as badly as any horse we’ve ever seen while remaining healthy, regrouped while continuing extremely wide, rallied strongly and nearly won the race. Further, he earned a new top pace figure in that race, another indication that this colt might be something special, at least while running middle distances. Trainer Rick Violette is adding blinkers and the colt has responded with two strong works, including a recent bullet.

Munnings, meanwhile, lost all chance at the break, stumbling then taking a few awkward steps. This is a big colt who should improve with experience while growing into his considerable frame. Laudably, the colt re-engaged and made a strong middle move into contention before settling for third. He finally draws an outside post and the wide expanse of Belmont Park will allow him to settle into a rhythmic stride for the first time. He’s been working extremely well since shipping back to his home base.

Taking Munnings to win at 4-1 or greater, an exacta box with Cribnote, and as a trifecta key first and second, adding recent very impressive maiden breaker, Brave Victory (6-1) and troubled Futurity fifth, Gone Astray (8-1).

Running Totals: (286) 86-60-33 Total Dollar Return: $515.80 [win selections only] {Friday’s results not included}

Written by John Pricci


Friday, October 03, 2008

A Prince of a Racehorse

Today’s “non-winners of 3 other than” on the Belmont turf for older horses is a particularly difficult one as all members of this full field have warts. The fastest horse probably wants to go shorter; the classiest runner is not in his best form. So, while he’s coming back on relatively short rest, 23 days, Prince Rahy (5-1) rates the call on consistency, fondness for the course and a hint of versatility.

And it is probably the blend of versatility--in terms of running style--and consistency-- he generally fires his best shot--that can prove the distance in this wide open sprint. He has a lamentable habit of finishing close up without getting the brass ring, but there appears enough speed to set up his late kick at this distance. Clearly, Javier Castellano gets along with the hard-hitting six-year-old and can be depended upon to keep him in the clear. Best of all, he handles both firm going and turf with some cut in the ground.

Taking Prince Rahy to win and place at 4-1 or greater.

Running Totals: (285) 86-59-33 Total Dollar Return: $515.80 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Hot Connections vs. Hot Horse

Today’s featured overnight stakes, the Strawberry Burrah for older turf runners at nine furlongs on the inner turf has drawn a highly competitive full field. But we’ll try to boil it down to the two most solid contenders.

Minister’s Joy is a worthy favorite, his 7-2 early line odds reflecting the open nature of this event. The veteran six year old was super sharp winning his lone Spa outing following a freshening, swooping wide under Javier Castellano (his specialty), and won under confident and mild hand urging. Trainer Shug McGaughey loses no efficiency with second-time off the layup starters. His performance figures are suitably fast, there has already been one winner from two subsequent starters since his last, and he returns to Belmont Park, where he’s won half of his four turf starts.

Late bloomer Formal Decree (4-1) continues to develop the right way for Saeed bin Suroor, who’s won with four of his last five starters and is a super 40 percent efficient with second-off-a-layup starters. Veteran Jean-Luc Samyn remains a reliable turf performer and his wide draw should insure that Formal Decree’s odds remain bettable value. Better yet, the five-year-old gelding stretches out to his best distance, at which he’s won half of six lifetime starts. Additionally, Suroor is 32 percent efficient in non-graded stakes.

Taking Minister's Joy at 5-2 or greater and an exacta box with Formal Decree.

Running Totals: (284) 86-59-33 Total Dollar Return: $515.80 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci


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