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, March 24, 2012


And Now for Something Completely Different


HALLANDALE BEACH, FLA, March 24, 2012--It's not often when Turfway Park gets its day in the sun, but with this being Vinery Racing Spiral day and all,and what with Animal Kingdom putting the race on the map for good, we decided to go there--not literally, but parimutuelly.

In addition to the Kentucky Derby prep, are three other races, all interesting, wide open and, with any brains and luck and all, an opportunity to build a Derby bankroll. Thus, we're sharing our thoughts on the All Stakes Pick 4, beginning with the Hansel Stakes.

The first two are ungraded but the penultimate race in the sequence is the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks.

All races in the sequence are open,and so a sizable payoff is almost assured—if we’re right that is.

Race 7: The Hansel

Tiz Tee Time (12-1) has more than enough conditioning from recent route racing and now turns back into sprint, a scenario present for her debut score when she came from the clouds to win over Keeneland's Polytrack surface. Early line odds are very attractive. She might be worth a gamble at half the price.

The three favorites are all formidable: Lockout (3-1) earned a strong 6-furlong internal Equiform figure as a September 2-year-old on Woodbine's Polytrack. Not all Poly is created equal but it helps to have experience on synthetic tracks.

She’s Ready Made (5-2) earned excellent figure in her winter track Big A finale, returning here with good spacing and pedigree for the synthetic surface.

Hogy (3-1) is fastest by definition, by virtue of her effort as a July 2-year-old over Arlington's Polytrack surface and she’s placed sensibly in her season’s debut. Tough to avoid a spread in this spot.

Race 8: Rushaway Stakes

Spread is unavoidable for Pick 4 players in this spot, if for no other reason that putting yourself in position to get lucky.

Fast maiden Dynamical (7-2) was a good third in stakes to talented State Of Play on this track recently and now picks up Rjiv Maragh.

Gold Megillah (3-1) makes her AW debut but she owns good turf form and attracts Johnny Velazquez.

Gung Ho (3-1) broke her maiden on Tapeta at 2 and was only beaten 7 lengths by Dullahan in Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity in juvenile finale. She's value asthe second favorite and worth considering as possible single.
Mike Maker is 25% efficient with 90-day-plus returnees and the filly gets Javier Castellano.

an Flashy Dresser (5-2) was open lengths winner in Gulfstream debut, visually impressive, now tries synthetics for the Fred Seitz outfit that's profitable in all relevant categories, especially his stretchouts.

Race 9: G3 Bourbonette Oaks

Another four-horse race in our view. The two favorites in this graded feature look strongest and might be enough to stay alive in Pick 4 sequence. However, Toxis (8-1) has improved at 3, broke maiden first-time wearing blinkers in her Fair Grounds finale now returns with good spacing and picks up Joel Rosario. Dixie Jackpot (15-1) is 2-for-2 over this ground but tries stakes company here; still, experience helps here.

The two favorites are More Than Love, a G3 winner on Hollywood turf and just missed in Florida Oaks recently, her 3-year-old debut. She gets blinkers today and cpuld easily make turf-to-AW transition.

In Lingerie was a dominant maiden winner sprinting here on January 14, was good second in a recent Gulfstream dirt mile, now returns to Turfway for two-turn debut for Pletcher barn with strong distance pedigree. Appears very well pointed.

Race 10: G3 Vinery Spiral Stakes

Three solid favorites on ability, but only one with synthetics experience. Heavy Breathing (3-1) is undefeated in two starts for Pletcher, winning both by impressive margins, one at today’s 9-furllong trip. His pedigree looks very suitable for transition to the AW surface.

Went The Day Well (4-1) also has experience at the distance and acts like a natural router, owning turf experience in Great Britain before shipping over for Team Valor. For karma fans, given Team Motion/Velazquez.

Handsome Mike (4-1) owns consistently fastest figures on Equiform scale and has been toughened in four graded stakes. Certainly compromised by today's wide draw but not the presence of Rosario.

He looms the most probable winner and with single potential. Larger bankrolls can add Mr. Prankster (12-1) off a bounce-rebound pattern switching to Rosie Napravnik, and Ill Conceived (8-1), who stayed very gamely after a pace battle in the Battaglia Memorial, his prep for this.

And remember, in the immortal words of the late New York City-OTB publicity machine: Always bet with your head, not over it.

Written by John Pricci

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