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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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Racing Continues Paying Lip Service To Its Problems

Today marks the first baby race of the season in New York and the timing seems to be about right. The modern market place demands as much with its accent on youth: Establish racing value at 2; increase stud value at 3, off to the breeding shed at 4.

Actually, two-year-olds have been racing for almost two months now, starting with two-furlong dashes at Santa Anita and at South Florida tracks before stretching out to 4- furlongs at Keeneland, where conveniently you could buy yearlings and two-year-olds virtually right around the corner.

The industry should know that its in the breeds (and the games) best interests to delay the start of the juvenile racing season and demand that they come out running at more acceptable sprint distances. If longer sprints were written by racing secretaries there would be little or no incentive to rush a youngster to the races. Then maybe the breeding industry would adapt to the new racing reality by breeding sounder and stronger horses, not faster ones.

By writing longer races later in the season, the racing industry would have a chance to dictate to the breeding industry, not the other way around. It is also the hope that having racehorses around longer would be better for business and the sport. Instead, racing is odds-on to continue chasing the short-term dollars.

Maybe sports fans you were expecting that logic would prevail? But, boys and girls, this is horseracing. Even in a game mired in the past, logic and long-term thinking have little place in the modern game. Doing the right thing is still not as important as talking about it.

Written by John Pricci

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A “Perfect” Work For A Tough Test

Its Game On for Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense.

Thats the only message one can glean from his five furlong workout yesterday at Churchill Downs. Five-eighths in 1:00 was perfect, said trainer Carl Nafzger. Who can argue?

Street Sense seems to lend new meaning to the term push-button. If you need five furlongs in :58 2/5, his first speed work following the slowly run Blue Grass, he gave it to you.

If you wanted something slower Derby week, because the colt already was there, you got that, too. Five furlongs in 1:01, following a half-mile in :49 4/5, with a gallop out past the wire in :12-flat. Pluperfect.

And now another brilliant move; fast enough but not too fast. Following an opening quarter mile of :25, it was :35 seconds home for the final three furlongs. Sharp! It appears that Nafzger still has not reached bottom. Good thing for his fans, too bad for fans of his rivals.

The dynamics of the Preakness are such that this race, despite having half the number of Derby entrants, is the greater challenge. If the fates allow that he would be the first Triple Crown hero since Affirmed, this is the race that would stop him.

The Preakness should come right down to the wire. The post position draw is 4:30 p.m. today. Can't wait.

Written by John Pricci

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Circular Quay Would Make Preakness A Lot More Interesting

The news that trainer Todd Pletcher is considering running sixth-place Kentucky Derby finisher Circular Quay back in the Preakness is welcome, adding an interesting horse to the Big Three Derby runners scheduled to race back. If the colt is doing well, the decision makes good sense, too.

While not impossible, its difficult for extreme late-rally types to perform at their best over a wet-fast surface, even nimble ones like Circular Quay. While the Churchill track did benefit from the floating, then opening, procedure used to quick-dry the track by track superintendent Butch Lehr and his crew (Derby day kudos all around), greasy tracks are often hard on late runners.

Yesterday at Belmont Park, Circular Quay worked an easy half-mile in :48 2/5. Pletcher will inspect the colt today and make an entry-time decision tomorrow. The presence of Flying First Class and Hard Spun insures a very solid Preakness pace, which should help Circular Quay. What might not, however, is the chance for a wet track for the Triple Crowns middle jewel. Showers are scheduled in the Baltimore area for the days leading up to the race.

At Churchill Downs, trainer Steve Asmussen got a lung opener from Derby show finisher Curlin; a half-mile in a dawdling :51. Not looking for speed in any way, Asmussen only wanted to observe how his colt came out of the work following his strenuous Derby effort, physically and mentally. Asmussen said he was pleased on both counts.

Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense is scheduled to work this morning. Both he and Curlin will fly to Baltimore from Louisville tomorrow.

Written by John Pricci

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