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John Pricci

HorseRaceInsider.com executive editor John Pricci has over three decades of experience as a thoroughbred racing public handicapper and was an award-winning journalist while at New York Newsday for 18 years.

John has covered 14 Kentucky Derbies and Preaknesses, all but three Breeders' Cups since its inception in 1984, and has seen all but two Belmont Stakes live since 1969.

Currently John is a contributing racing writer to MSNBC.com, an analyst on the Capital Off-Track Betting television network, and co-hosts numerous handicapping seminars. He resides in Saratoga Springs, New York.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012


Team Work At Its Best


HALLANDALE BEACH, January 21, 2012—It certainly has been a good week for the Team Valor people and their trainer, Graham Motion.

Win the 2011 three year old Eclipse championship Monday night in Beverly Hills then finish one-two in the feature at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.

But, incredibly, they were trumped!

It happened in New Orleans where the former Kentucky Governor, Brereton C Jones and Larry Jones, the Jones boys, won both stakes for sophomores, the Silverbulletday with the filly Believe You Can and the Grade 3 LeComte with Mr. Bowling.

Better yet, Brereton bred both horses; Larry trained then both--and the horses got each other ready. You don’t see that every day.

Locally, things went pretty much according to plan, even if it was the longer half of the uncoupled Team Valor entry, Howe Great, who finished first by 2 ½ lengths over 11-10 favorite Lucky Cappy.

The Team certainly made good use of their “entry,” as speed type Howe Great went to the front under no real pressure while setting a moderate pace, presumably setting the table for the more accomplished late running Lucky Chappy.

‘Chappy’ made a very good rally down the center of the course but never loomed the winner. He is certain to benefit from the race and might make the trip over to Dubai with his Derby winning stablemate.

“I talked to Edgar [Prado] before the race and we agreed that if no one else wanted the lead we’d be happy to take it,” said Motion.

“I knew Lucky Chappy would be up against it as he always breaks a step slow. It’s possible we’ll take one of them to Dubai.”It sounded like that would be Lucky Chappy. The UAE Derby is run over the same synthetic Tapeta surface over which the Motion horses train at Fair Hill.

Besides, going synthetic to dirt worked last year pretty nicely for this outfit. “We’ll also look at the Palm Beach here later in the meet. We haven’t ruled out anything for either of them, including dirt.”

No such decisions for the Jones boys to make. They and their horses appear right on schedule for anything they want to do, like, perhaps, the Oaks and Derby on the first weekend in May.

“We were confident that she’d go far,” said trainer Jones in the winner’s circle following the Silverbulletday about Believe You Can’s two-turn debut.

“I’ve probably trained more (Proud Citizens) than anyone,” speaking of his latest female stakes winner. “If they are good sprinting, they are better going long.”

Jones trained another daughter of Proud Citizen, Brereton Jones’s Proud Spell, who won the Fair Grounds Oaks en route to the Kentucky Oaks four years ago.

It was the same story for the duo in a deep and very contentious LeComte. “It was one of the most competitive LeComtes I’d ever seen,” said winning rider and Louisiana native Robby Albarado.

Albarado rated the winner, got him comfortable enough while stalking the leaders from close range, took the lead three-sixteenths out and held Mr. Bowling together as late running Z Dagar made a final late surge that appeared to be the winning run. Larry Jones never lost confidence.

“Right after his early races, Jose Carabalo got off and said be sure to enter him in any long race, he’ll run all day.” And apparently likes it in NOLA, too.

“He seems happier here than anywhere we’ve brought him. I’ll enter him back in the Risen Star if they let me back in. He and the filly have been working with each other since we got here. They got each other ready.”




Written by John Pricci

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