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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Friday, March 04, 2016


123BET.com WEEKEND STAKES PREVIEW


By John Pricci
Exclusively for 123BET.com


Reprinted via special promtional arrangement with 123GAMING.com

Hallandale Beach, Fl., March 4, 2016—Interesting betting menu from various venues on a Saturday in which Kentucky Derby fans will learn more about a trio of promising three-year-olds in New York while cross country champion filly Songbird takes another step toward potential immortality.

Songbird (1-9), whose stated aim is the first Friday in May, not Saturday, is taking a path of least resistance even within her own division with a spin in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel, her bridge to the Santa Anita Oaks—or Santa Anita Derby. (Using Street Fancy (15-1) in exotics).

Until late Triple Crown nominations close on March 20, Songbird technically remains eligible for a run against the boys. Whether she should or should not is a different conversation for a different day.

In the Empire State, meanwhile, the very highly regarded, undefeated Shagaf will get his first serious test in the 1-1/16 miles G3 Gotham with a rematch vs. troubled Florida rival Rally Cry; the accomplished, albeit underappreciated Sunny Ridge and, finally, whether the underachieving Conquest Big E can definitively justify his camp’s confidence.

The listed Heavenly Prize Invitational for older fillies and mares is a good prelude to New York’s penultimate Derby prep.

A trio of stakes from Gulfstream Park, all graded with two of them on turf, are the lynchpin of another solid card featuring four allowance events that includes high-class maidens and a great betting race in New Orleans, a gateful of turf specialists getting together in the LaCombe Memorial overnight stakes.

HANDICAPPERS NOTE: The number appearing next to each horse’s name in the analyses is the Pricci Performance Profile. More than a performance figure, it is an energy-based rating that integrates traditional handicapping factors to produce a final-figure projection. (In route races, [s] indicates PPP figures that were earned sprinting).

A difference of 10 points between the top two point-getters in any race yields an extremely high win rate, according to more than a year of beta-testing on Saturday feature races at North American racetracks, including national events such as the Triple Crown, Breeders’ Cup, the Saratoga session, etc.

Comments, questions or information about the ratings can be sent to our e-mail address by going to the HorseRaceInsider.com site and following instructions on how to send personal e-mail requests. Now, the races:

AQUEDUCT RACETRACK

PERSONAL ENSIGN INVITATIONAL F & M 1-1/16 MILES


HANDICAPPING SKINNY: Race has more questions than answers. Is short-priced Cali Star just as effective round two turns? Is classy House Rules ready off the bench? Does competitively rated Saythreehailmary’s really belong with these? Is Pangburn’s last run a sign of things to come? Don’t know, but at anything near early line odds we’ll pay to find out.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER:
PANGBURN-169 (6-1)
BEST VALUE: PANGBURN (6-1)
EXOTICA: HOUSE RULES-160 (4-1), CALI STAR-163 (8-5), INCLUDE BETTY-153 (4-1)
TOTE BUSTER: SAYTHREEHAILMARY’S-161 (15-1)


G3 GOTHAM STAKES 3YO 1-1/16 MILES

THE SKINNY:
Long striding Shagaf, slow time notwithstanding, made an impressive 3YO debut. Chad Brown doesn’t get overly excited about anything, with the possible exception of this colt…Fellowship is South Florida’s Rodney Dangerfield; Sunny Ridge is New York’s—only he wins more often. Conceded ground every step of the Withers and still won it. Rally Cry’s last behind Shagaf needs to be seen to be believed; see video replay. Adventist is as green as he is fast. ‘Big E’ has been disappointing his connections and bettors. Has the ability but must step it up here to even compete with these.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER:
SHAGAF-166 (3-1)
THE VALUE PLAY: SUNNY RIDGE-179 (7-2)
EXOTICA: RALLY CRY-171 (5-1), ADVENTIST-162 (4-1)
TOTE BUSTER: CONQUEST BIG E-168 (8-1)


FAIR GROUNDS
LaCOMBE MEMORIAL 3YO F 7-1/2 FURLONGS TURF


THE SKINNY:
Class on the grass? Say hello to my little friend, Sapphire Kitten. More Than Most can’t compete on figures, but check out her most recent trip; I’m in. Yes, Pancake got a good trip beating many of these last out, but from the rail has a chance to trip-out again. Tizahandful is very interesting; not sure how those pair of 5-1/2 furlongs will translate to a second turn, but if it does…

MOST PROBABLE WINNER:
SAPPHIRE KITTEN-165 (5-2)
THE VALUE PLAY: MORE THAN MOST-149 (10-1)
EXOTICA: PANCAKE-149 (9-2), INCONCLUSIVE-139 (8-1)
TOTE BUSTER: TIZAHANDFUL-146[s] (8-1)


GULFSTREAM PARK
G3 THE VERY ONE F & M 1-3/16 MILES TURF


There are three stakes on today’s Gulfstream docket: In the GP Handicap below, Todd Pletcher saddles four of the seven entrants; in this event, Chad Brown will tighten the girth on half this six-pack. Such is the state of the game in 2016.

HANDICAPPING SKINNY: So which of the three Chad’s will it be? Dacita has both good Thoro-Graph and PPPs. Chad’s a profitable 23% effective adding blinkers and is pole sitting beneath Castellano. First-time in U.S. might even hold a class edge and Johnny takes the call. Hopefully, Olorda, owning a slight edge on the Performance Profile scale, will fall between the pari-mutuel cracks.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: DACITA-159 (2-1)
BEST VALUE: OLORDA-163 (3-1)
EXOTICA: GUAPAZA-159? (5-2)
TOTE BUSTER: QUIET KITTEN-158 (6-1)


G2 GULFSTREAM PARK HANDICAP 1 MILE

THE SKINNY: Early line favorite is dropping out of the G1 Donn but mate Stanford, making his season’s debut in the G3 Hooper, is coming off the tougher, more beneficial trip. Rail position unlikely to help Javier given this dynamic but perennial leading rider most likely will figure something out. As always, wherever the prolific Valid is entered, his rivals have him to beat. Has the best post of the major contenders.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER:
VALID-186 (5-2)
THE VALUE PLAY: STANFORD-183 (7-2)
EXOTICA: ITSAKNOCKOUT-176 (2-1), BLOFELD-176 (6-1), ANCHOR DOWN-175 (6-1)


G2 MAC DIARMIDA 1-3/8 MILES TURF

THE SKINNY: The class lines belong to Twilight Eclipse but will he be fully cranked given there’s a Grade 1 at 12 furlongs Florida Derby day? We guess not but he might take this anywhere over one of his favorite surfaces. But Da Big Hoss is Da Now Hoss, coming off a sharp G3 score in the Connelly in Houston and will be a better price.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: TWILIGHT ECLIPSE-159 (2-1)
THE VALUE PLAY: DA BIG HOSS-166 (3-1)
EXOTICA: MR MAYBE-165 (4-1), ALL INCLUDED-159 (10-1)
TOTE BUSTER: GRAND TITO-165 (10-1)

LEGEND:


MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Generally the class or sharpest member of the field and in most instances will be favored by the betting public.

BEST VALUE: Almost always a non-favorite and in many instances is preferred over the likely winner. Long term success is about price, not about horse.

EXOTICA: Most often is exacta/trifecta filler, but in highly competitive tests these horses merit inclusion in a box bet with preferred choices.

TOTE BUSTER: Geared to blow up tickets in money positions beneath preferred choices--generally third or fourth slots--but differ from exotica at expected inflated prices, meriting win-saver status at grossly exaggerated odds.

On-the-record selections will appears in Saturday's Feature Race Analysis section







Written by John Pricci

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Friday, February 26, 2016


Betting Gulfstream Saturday? Bring Money


123BET.com WEEKEND STAKES PREVIEW FEBRUARY 27, 2016

By John Pricci


Exclusive to 123GAMING.com, reprinted via special promotional consideration

On the final weekend in January, the undefeated Mohaymen made his three-year-old debut in South Florida and by the time the Holy Bull Stakes was over, the athletic gray had become the protem 2016 Kentucky Derby favorite.

On Saturday at Gulfstream Park, he needs to do it all over again. And the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes concludes a day on which eight stakes, six of them graded, will be contested on a 13-race docket.

Meanwhile, there are eight other stakes restricted to three-year-olds around the country Saturday but none of consequence as it pertains to Derby colts.

But the G2 Davona Dale on the Fountain of Youth undercard and the Busher Stakes from Aqueduct are a couple of 50-pointers for fillies who have the Kentucky Oaks as a potential ultimate goal.

More on the Fountain of Youth Davona Dale below along with four other stakes run at the Hallandale track in our handicapping advance.

HANDICAPPERS NOTE:
The number appearing next to each horse’s name in the analyses is the Pricci Performance Profile. More than just a performance figure, it is an energy-based rating that includes traditional handicapping factors integrated to produce a final figure projection. [In route races, (s) indicates PPP figures were earned sprinting].

A difference of 10 points between the top two point-getters in any race yields an extremely high win rate, according to over a year’s worth of beta-testing on Saturday feature races at tracks throughout North America, including national events such as the Triple Crown, Breeders’ Cup, the Saratoga race meet, etc.

Comments, questions or information about the ratings can be sent to our e-mail address by going to the HorseRaceInsider.com site and following the instructions on how to send personal e-mail requests.


Now, the races:

GULFSTREAM PARK


Grade 3 GULFSTREAM PARK SPRINT STAKES 6 FURLONGS

The recently purchased X Y Jet (1-1), one of the country’s top sprinters, recently has been purchased privately but remains with super-trainer Jorge Navarro, meaning he can use this race as a prep for Dubai and still win. On paper, he appears unbeatable.

Ready for Rye (9-2) on his best day has similar ability but trainer Tom Albertrani says the four-year-old debuting gelding needed to get started somewhere and this looked like a good spot—sans X Y Jet. His first career Thoro-Graph top came AT GP and his Pricci Performance Profile puts him within hailing distance of the favorite.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: X Y JET—204

BEST VALUE: READY FOR RYE—196

EXOTICA: GRAND BILL-190 (12-1), CANDIP-190 (6-1)

TOTE-BUSTER: VIVA MAJORCA-191 (12-1)

***

Grade 2 DAVONA DALE STAKES 3YO FILLIES 1 MILE


Here’s the problem: The three fastest fillies in this matchup Cathryn Sophia (6-5); Dearest (5-1) and R Girls a Charmer (9-2) have not earned their best ratings at distances beyond 7 furlongs. The good news is that the one-turn mile is a similar dynamic so, in theory, the best filly should win.

On paper, that’s Cathryn Sophia, and by a sizable margin. The most “accomplished.” Lewis Bay (4-1) and Thrilled (6-1) are making seasonal debuts for Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher, respectively, and the fillies’ forte, at least at 2, were going a distance of ground.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: CATHRYN SOPHIA-199 (s)

BEST VALUE: DEAREST-185 (s)

EXOTICA: R GIRLS A CHARMER-185 (s), THRILLED-158, LEWIS BAY-158

***

Grade 3 HERECOMESTHEBRIDE STAKES 3YO F 1-1/16 MILES TURF


It became apparent on grass debut that Catch a Glimpse (6-5) was an extraordinary turf filly. Horses that make two distinct move while racing on the lead indicate as much. She went on to validate that assessment by remaining undefeated on grass, taking the G2 Natalma and the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Mark Casse charge has been training consistently fast for her season’s debut since late December at the Palm Meadows training center. But she will have competition from the undefeated Pletcher-trained Lira (2-1), who extricated herself in midstretch, taking the Ginger Brew with an excellent turn of foot.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: CATCH A GLIMPSE-186

BEST VALUE: LIRA-163 (2-1)

EXOTICA: PULLED THE GOALIE-162 (6-1), WEDDING DRESS-158 (12-1), VIEJA LUNA-158 (30-1)

***

Grade 3 CANADIAN TURF STAKES 1 MILE TURF


Tried as I might, I couldn’t find anyone to run with Heart to Heart (2-1). Perhaps you’ll have better luck. An outside draw doesn’t help but he figures to shake loose on the first turn assuming an alert start. A three-time winner at the trip, Heart to Heart won his course debut, the G2 Fort Lauderdale, and has trained eagerly since for the very live Brian Lynch shed.

Bill Mott won this race last year with Long On Value (8-1) and will try to repeat here. He’s won fresh in the past and has been in training at Payson Park since late November. Avanzare (4-1) has a good deal of ability, is a multiple graded winner and has won half of his eight starts at the trip. Classy returnee Divisidero (6-1) is likely to need his return.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: HEART TO HEART-182

BEST VALUE: LONG ON VALUE-177

EXOTICA: AVANZARE-180, TOWER OF TEXAS-182

TOTE-BUSTER: FREDERICKSBURG-177 (15-1)

***

Grade 3 PALM BEACH STAKES 3YO 1-1/16 MILES TURF


On first pass, we left seven of the 14 entrants open and that was after culling. Three of the 1 comes from the Pletcher barn and we’re taking the one with the worst draw. His bad post should be built into the odds on a colt whose line looks explosive. Further, G2 winning Azar (6-1) comes off a bad trip, elevated to second after being forced to check.

After that, who knows? Urban Bourbon (4-1) has the best PPPs--slower on the Thoro-Graph scale, however--is nicely posted and suited well by dynamics in this overstuffed field. Ousby (15-1), in contention for Claim of the Meet, could lead all the way from inside if left alone early, and there are enough classy returnees from top barns to make your hair hurt.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: URBAN BOURBON-176

BEST VALUE: AZAR-170

EXOTICA: OUSBY-170, CONVERGE-172

TOTE-BUSTERS: SCHOLAR ATHLETE-172 (15-1), J.R’S HOLIDAY-161 (12-1), DON’T BE SO SALTY-156 (12-1)

***

Grade 2 FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH STAKES 3YO 1-1/16 MILES


Many believe, myself included, that Mohaymen (6-5) is a deserving Derby favorite at this stage of the prep season. All he needs to do to prove is to win his fifth straight and remain undefeated. Indeed, this will be his toughest test to date but it’s not supposed to matter. Can’t wait for post time Saturday, scheduled for 5:30 EST. Good luck with that…

Awesome Banner (7-2) has awesome speed, plenty of class but no experience beyond 7 furlongs; Awesome Speed (4-1) has awesome class, proving that by taking the Mucho Macho Man at a flat mile and has trained like a wild horse since. To us, Zulu (3-1) has something to prove, but don’t go to sleep on the big kicker, Fellowship (20-1).

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: MOHAYMEN-186

BEST VALUE: AWESOME SPEED-183

EXOTICA: AWESOME BANNER-195 (s)

TOTE-BUSTER: FELLOWSHIP (158)

For on-the-record selections, see Saturday's Feature Race Analysis section


Written by John Pricci

Comments (5)

 
 

Friday, February 19, 2016


Win and You’re In at Fair Grounds


123GAMING.com WEEKEND PREVIEW, FEBRUARY 20, 2016

Exclusive to 123GAMING.COM, reprinted via special promotional arrangement with http://www.123BET.com


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., February 19, 2016—The focus on Kentucky Derby prep races shifts to the Crescent City with a deep field signed on to contest the Risen Star Stakes, the ultimate prep for the March 26 Louisiana Derby.

In fact, just as last weekend was Tampa Bay Downs weekend to shine, the best card of the weekend is at Fair Grounds with six stakes, four of which are graded. Most are competitive, making them good betting races and the focus of this week’s Preview.

Further, as the first 50-pointer of the Kentucky Derby season, the Risen Star is an extremely likely Win-and-You’re-In Derby qualifier.

HANDICAPPERS NOTE: The number appearing next to each horse’s name in the analyses is the Pricci Performance Profile. More than just a performance figure, it is an energy-based rating that includes integrated traditional handicapping factors producing a final figure projection.

A difference of 10 points between the top two point-getters in any race yields an extremely high win rate, according to more than a year’s worth of beta-testing on Saturday featured events at whatever track was that weekend’s focus: Triple Crown, Breeders’ Cup, Saratoga, etc.

Any comments, questions or more information about the ratings can be sent to our e-mail address by going to the HorseRaceInsider.com and following instructions on how to send personal e-mail requests. Now, for the races at hand:



FAIR GROUNDS

GRADE 3 MINESHAFT HANDICAP 1-16 MILES


This event isn’t one of those good betting races eluded to earlier, but might be if the crowd over-bets the track loving International Star (8-5), last year’s Louisiana Derby winner seeking his fifth victory without defeat. Winning his season’s debut Jan. 16, he’s a worthy favorite.

But Eagle (2-1), second to ‘Star’ last out as the favorite, benefit from a seven-pound weight shift and is likely to get first run. At early line odds or greater, the four-time distance winner could prove the value play here:

PROBABLE WINNER: International Star-182
BEST VALUE: Eagle-180
TOTE BUSTER: Jessica's Star-174


***

KENNER STAKES 3 & UP 6 FURLONGS

Curiously, this ungraded stakes is almost always a competitive event and this year’s renewal is no exception. That, and it may produce the first value play on today’s card.

There’s nothing wrong with today’s favorite, Clearly Now, who rates the narrowest of edges. But at 7-5 on the early line, the classy public choice appears worth trying to beat; we simply believe he’s more seven-eighths than three-quarters.

Newly turned 4YO Cinco Charlie (7-2) has more upside. On a par with the favorite performance figure-wise, he gets four pounds in weight, is –for-6 at the trip and gets a switch to leading rider Florent Geroux.

PROBALE WINNER: Clearly Now-202
THE VALUE PLAY: Cinco Charlie-201
EXOTICA: Too Dim-198 (5-1)
TOTE BUSTER: Vigorous Titan-185 (15-1)


***

DAISY DEVINE STAKES F & M 1-1/16 MILES TURF


No shortage of fillies here with 10 signed on to go postward in a wide open event which, if we’re prescient, can produce excellent payoffs on the logical, top contenders.

The only obvious drawback for Notte d’Oro (9-2) is the extreme outside post in this two-turner.

However, the payoff could be relatively generous in light of his position and other factors weigh heavily for her success. A three-time winner at the trip and over the course, the tactical speedster benefits from a switch to grass maven Julien Leparoux.

But she will have her fetlock full with formidable rival Mizz Money (8-1), leaving from the pole at perhaps twice the price. Considering she’s 3-for-5 on this ground and 1-for-11 anywhere else, her case gets stronger. A tactical runner, she can lead throughout or stalk and pounce.

PROBABLE WINNER: Notte d'Oro-169
THE VALUE PLAY: Miss Money-169
EXOTICA: Pink Poppy-157 (9-2), Street of Gold-156 (7-2)


***

GRADE 2 RACHEL ALEXANDRA 3YO F 1-1/16 MILES


This prep for the Fair Grounds Oaks and beyond features the gifted Stageplay (7-5) who will be a very tough out in here. While a stepping stone, considering who this event is named for, trainer Steve Asmussen is probably treating this one a little more seriously than just a trial run. The Silverbulletday winner here gets Geroux on the re-ride.

While Stageplay may be the one to beat, invading Forever Darling (7-2) just might be the one to do it. Owning a significant edge on the PPP scale, she exits the fast G2 Santa Ynez sprint. Whether this translates to a two-turn victory away from Santa Anita is the issue. Given enough price, it’s worth finding out.

PROBABLE WINNER: Stageplay-159
THE VALUE PLAY: Forever Darling-177
TOTE BUSTERS: Shaken-157 (12-1), Finley'sluckycharm-156 (12-1)
EXOTICA: Midnight On Oconee-154 (5-1)


***

GRADE 3 FAIR GROUNDS HANDICAP 1-1/8 MILES


A couple of home town favorites hook up here but favored Chocolate Ride (7-5) holds a significant edge in many respects over the redoubtable La-Bred String King (10-1).

A distance (3-for-5) and course lover [6] 5-1-0, he is representing the profitable 36% meet leading Brad Cox and all the dynamics; race shape, post, style and Geroux all fit neatly in the favorite’s package.

But String King (10-1) is not easily dismissed; to the contrary. While not as proven at the trip, the gelded 8YO is as prolific as the come on turf [29] 14-7-2 and on this ground [13] 6-3-1, albeit mostly in state-bred company.

He should have been unsaddled two starts back if not for getting completely eliminated on the first turn (beaten a nose, incredibly) then raced dully in an apparent prep for this. Apparent prep? Since Charles Smith is a profitable 4 for his last 10 in LAY-3 scenarios, that guess seems fairly educated.

PROBABLE WINNER: Chocolate Ride-182
TOTE BUSTER: The Strong King-168
EXOTICA: Roman Approval-160 (4-1), Departing-159 (9-2)


***

GRADE 2 RISEN STAR STAKES 3YO 1-1/16 MILES


A beauty with a baker’s dozen signed on including the 1-2-3 finishers in the shorter, G3 LeComte including a few very talented new shooters including the season’s debut of Airoforce (5-2), a multiple graded winner on dirt and turf and also G1-placed.

The Risen Star will be the first for Airoforce on what is expected to be a fast, dry track. While his A-game might prove too much for these, he gives away recency and track familiarity.

LeComte winner Mo Tom (3-1) has proven best of the locals with a very-strong late run to win his season’s debut, appearing to have reserves as he crossed the wire. But his vanquished stablemate, Tom’s Ready (8-1) did the dirty work with a strong mid-race move, but understandably tired. He returns with sharp works and goes first-time Johnny V.

The most intriguing is potential Tote Buster and Greenpointcrusader’s stablemate, It’s All Relevant (15-1). His recent maiden breaker at Gulfstream was most impressive but then his pedigree was well suited to the sloppy conditions. But he has talent and may be worth a flyer at double-digit odds.

While fraught with danger, the Risen Star also is filled with parimutuel possibility. May your choices all have safe and speedy journeys.

PROBABLE WINNER: Airoforce-182
THE VALUE PLAY: Tom's Ready-171
TOTE BUSTER: It's All Relevant-171
EXOTICA: Mo Tom-168, Uncle Walter-169 (8-1), Bistraya-165 (15-1), Gun Runner-156 (6-1)


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


Written by John Pricci

Comments (5)

 
 

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