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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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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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Godolphin Should Challenge Sprint Division’s Best With Songster

In case Discreet Cat doesnt return to America to point for the sprint championship, the Dubai royal family could have another able representative. Anyone who witnessed yesterdays Grade 3 Bold Ruler at Belmont Park might make that same assessment.

The four-year-old Songster completely dominated the six-furlong sprint with his speed. Despite being shadowed by last years True North Stakes winner, Anew, for more than half the race, Songster simply slipped into another gear and blew the race open before reaching midstretch.

After being chased through early splits of :21.77 and :44.19, Songster drew off before reaching the wire on his own courage while only being shown the whip by regular rider Edgar Prado. The final time was a worthy 1:08.80 for the open-lengths victory. The improved Dashboard Drummer loomed a brief threat, but never seriously menaced the winner.

Assistant trainer Rick Mettee indicated the colt would run next in either the G2 True North on the Belmont Stakes undercard or the Tom Fool July 4th. The connections covet a Grade 1 victory for the future stud horse. Why not be a little more sporting and try to win that Grade 1 on Breeders Cup day at Monmouth Park?

Written by John Pricci

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

There’s Life Beyond The Kentucky Derby

Lost this week in the afterglow of Kentucky Derby 133 was a workout by a truly great horse, defending Horse of the Year champion Invasor. It was his first timed move since he returned to Belmont Park after winning the Dubai World Cup in March.

The half-mile work wasnt much, a half-mile in :50.84 termed breezing, on Wednesday, but it didnt need to be. Invasor gets a lot from his gallops and doesnt need strenuous work according to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Hell work several more times, although not every week, until his New York return on June 30 at Belmont Park.

* * *

It may be hard to believe but Todd Pletcher has run only one horse in the Preakness. Hell have his second next Saturday when he starts King of the Roxy, second to Tiago in the Santa Anita Derby last time out. The colt will have his final breeze at Belmont today or tomorrow.

While no plans have been made as to when Pletchers five Derby starters will race next, there is a chance that his impressive Oaks-winning filly, Rags to Riches, might make her debut vs. males in the Belmont Stakes. Pletcher will first go to school on next weeks Preakness before deciding on a Belmont start for the stables star three-year-old.

Written by John Pricci

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