John Pricci 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, 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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Friday, January 27, 2017

A Tote Busters Look at Saturday’s McKnight at Gulfstream

Knowing that most you are likely go two deep in the last leg of whichever horizontal wager is your preference, a look at Saturday's 11th race from Gulfstream, the McKnight turf marathon:

1 - ***TAGHLEEB (6-1) Pricci Energy Rating: 68 [extremely slow pace]
Certainly has needed conditioning coming off a win in the Allen Jerkens Marathon, finishing up with a sharp turn of foot home under excellent handling from Tyler G. But course lover turns back with tougher set here and will need a very good trip to repeat for McLaughlin, despite his gaudy 25% record with repeaters. Super sharp ‘now horse’.

2 - *MONTCLAIR (10-1) PER: 67 [@10 F]
Another who received brilliant handling [Prado] when second in the Jerkens, saved ground all the way in a bulky field. Shifts inside and might get to use some tactical speed to gain better position. Gelded 7YO has improved since claimed by sharp connects. Current trainer De la Cerda is 4-for-12 at the graded level.

3 – DIAMOND BACHELOR (30-1) PER: 49 [@9 F]
His best game is speed, which is always a challenge rounding three turns despite what usually turns out to be soft fractions. But doesn’t necessarily have to shake loose with these either unless he’s on the dead send.

4 – ****DANISH DYNAFORMER (5-1) PER: 92
Pointed to this by the legendary Attfield. A two-time winner at the trip and victorious in one of two local starts, does own tactical speed and late kick, comes in fresh and off a strong workline at PMM base. Gets reacquainted with hot-riding Lezcano here, is certainly fast enough, and appears to be peaking as early-season 5YO.

5 - APPLICATOR (50-1) PER: 63
Set pressed pace in two mile Jerkens marathon, tiring late, then returned with middle-move going 7-1/2 furlongs in what appears an attempt to sharpen him up. Did win on course and at trip but not against this kind.

6 – ***CHARMING KITTEN (9-2) PER: 91 [@2 miles]
Won two straight last season for Todd then Ramseys went looking for bigger game in Ireland, failing badly in the St. Leger Trial. Recycled by Maker, he sports purposeful and strong workline in return to favorite venue (8) 4-2-0 and has two exacta finishes at the trip, including a win. Magic Mike named; think he’s live?

7 – ****TWILIGHT ECLIPSE (4-1) PER: 96
Lots of seconds and third on his card but he’s been competing effectively his entire career at the highest levels, compiling a (37) 8-5-11 slate worth over $2 million in earnings. Certainly has excellent figures on anyone’s scale, likes this course (6) 2-1-1, winning twice at the trip, now goes first-time Jose Ortiz. Very well spotted here.

8 – *GENEROUS KITTEN (15-1) PER: 85
Uncoupled Ramsey/Maker entrant has won over this course but not at the trip, goes second off the layup (Maker 23% effective), given a conditioning run when a willing in the Jerkens off two month break now switches to Geroux. Not as accomplished as mate but not without money prospects.

9 – PATTERSON CROSS (20-1) PER: 62 [@11 F, extremely slow pace]
In top hands with Mott/Lezcano team, likes this course (2) 1-1-0 and has enough pedigree for the trip. Mott a worthy 24% effective with repeaters, but waters are much deeper here.

10 – ***MR MAYBE (6-1) PER: 94 [@13 F]
Winner of the 13-furlongs Glens Falls at the Spa so trip not an issue. Third in G2 MacDiarmida in 2016 here, Chad has come back firing where he left off in his Eclipse season, is 26% effective with this type of spacing and picks up Javier. This one owns powerful late turn of foot but move must be perfectly timed.

11 – *SADLER’S JOY (8-1) PER: 69 [@11 F, extremely slow pace]
Moves way up in company here but is the “now horse” seeking his fourth straight. Won his only start at the trip, his figures on both scales are straight forward, Albertrani has been live at meet but he loses Javier to Mr Maybe.

12 – *HUNTER O’RILEY (15-1) PER: 77 [@9.5 F]
Continued on very gamely for third after chasing the pace 3-wide throughout the two-mile Jerkens--no easy task. Toner has sharpened him up with two recent shorter drills, Johnny takes the re-ride but does cut back with better.

See Saturday's Feature Race Analysis for on-the-record selection

Written by John Pricci

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