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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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Derby Preps: Threes Gone Wild

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., March 27, 2013—If good things come in threes, then the favorites for the centerpiece Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park and centennial running of the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in New Orleans are in good shape.

Itsmyluckyday drew post position 3 and was installed the 2-1 early line favorite for the Florida Derby.

Shanghai Bobby, the 2012 Champion Juvenile which finished second to the local star in track record time, was rated 5-2 second choice by respected linemaker Chuck Streva and will break from the rail with Fair Grounds leading rider Rosie Napravnik coming East for the assignment.

Orb, a late striding, late developing revelation in South Florida this winter that won with the G2 Fountain of Youth with an impressive late run will break from post 6 as the 3-1 third favorite with Johnny Velazquez.

“Any one of these colts would be a rightful favorite,” Streva said, “but Itsmyluckyday has been the most accomplished of the three this winter and has run faster than the other two.

“But because of the connections [Napravnik and trainer Todd Pletcher] and possibly needing the race last time, I wouldn’t be surprised if Shanghai Bobby was the favorite at post time.”

In New Orleans, meanwhile, another Pletcher trainee, broken-field running Withers hero Revolutionary, was made a tepid 3-1 favorite over 13 rivals in the 100th Louisiana Derby and will break from slip 3 beneath Javier Castellano.

Code West, from the well-stocked Bob Baffert barn, is the early line second choice at 9-2 with Martin Garcia and will break from post 8. Code West was beaten by a nose in the Risen Star, the main prelude to the La. Derby.

The third choice at 5-1, breaking from post 2 with new rider Edgar Prado, is another Pletcher trainee, Palace Malice, who finished third to Code West by a half-length in the Risen Star. That effort was his season’s debut and first ever around two turns.

However, the Florida and Louisiana features are not the only Derbies run in the world on Saturday. Derby #3, another 170-point Kentucky qualifier, is the Grade 2 UAE Derby on the Dubai World Cup undercard.

That 1-3/16 miles on the Tapeta surface, a half furlong farther than its American counterparts, drew a field of 12 including two U. S. shippers.

He’s Had Enough (15-1), representing the 2012 Derby-winning team of Doug O’Neill and Mario Gutierrez and was most recently fifth in the Fountain of Youth, and Dice Flavor (10-1), winner of the G3 El Camino Real on the Tapeta surface last out for Paddy Gallagher and rider Jose Valdivia.

The early line favorite is the top rated Secret Number (5-2), trained by Saeed bin Suroor and ridden by Silvestri De Sousa. Secret Number defeated four of Saturday’s rivals when he took the Al Bastakiya prepping for this last out.

Meanwhile, a horse that already has won the Kentucky Derby will be racing on Saturday, too. Animal Kingdom will be breaking from a tough post--12 of 13 starters--in the $10 million Dubai World Cup beneath Joel Rosario for trainer Graham Motion.

Two other Americans are in the cast; Dullahan for Dale Romans and recently unretired Gary Stevens, and dual Champion race mare Royal Delta, breaking from slip 8 for Bill Mott with regular rider Mike Smith.

Presumably, Motion got a ray of hope after speaking with jockey Ramon Dominguez who told Motion that he really didn’t want to be caught down inside with him. Then Motion recalled “after all, he won the Derby from post 16.”

Written by John Pricci

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