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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, April 07, 2012


Feeling Super this Saturday


SOUTH OZONE PARK, April 6, 2012—From South Florida to South Ozone Park; it must be Kentucky Derby prep season.

Clearly, today’s Super Saturday Prep day action, coming from New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, figures to have a significant impact on the impending Derby.

Indeed, a comprehensive victory by Gemologist in the Wood or Creative Cause in the Santa Anita could force either to wear the mantle of favoritism come the first Saturday in May.

And thanks to the sophomoric earnings qualification as a barometer of Derby worthiness, today’s preps could be viewed through a prism of the NFL playoffs:

As the season winds down, take the team that needs the game; as the prep season winds down, take the horse that needs the money.

While they are the best horses in the Wood Memorial; Alpha and undefeated Gemologist both are on the bubble. An exacta finish would be fine for either.

Out West, Santa Anita Derby favorite Creative Cause is in the big dance regardless; but second-favorite I’ll Have Another cannot be worse than second if he wants to give his connections some restful sleep come Derby week.

We’re going to follow the money; the All Stakes Pick 4 money on Aqueduct’s Wood Memorial program, despite its lofty takeout rate.

The sequence begins with the seventh race, the Grade 3 Comely. If it's any filly other than Broadway's Alibi (4-5), Millionreasonswhy (5-2) or Welcome Guest (5-1), the result would be a complete shocker.

Broadway's Alibi was a complete monstress winning the Forward Gal by a city block. The problem is that effort came over a sealed sloppy track.

What to do? Use her, then lose her, especially at an expected very short price. Millionreasonswhy came back the way she off as a juvenile, an excellent competitive-figure effort. Johnny opts for her chances over the former, which he rode at Gulfstream. Welcome Guest was an extremely impressive maiden winner of her Gulf finale.

Tough spot, but not impossible, especially after picking up Ramon Dominguez. I will use all three but must press with the favorite to insure some small profit, at least.

The G3 Bay Shore is up next.. If Trinniberg (6-5), winner of the Grade 3 Swale at Gulfstream Park March 10, all will be running for second money. But the effort was so huge as to invite a regression.

One word of caution on that; his run was a visually impressive powerhouse effort. Find the replay and watch it.

Hardened Wildcat (2-1), winner of three straight on the winter track but never has raced farther than 6 furlongs, nevertheless remains the main danger. How Do I Win (5-1), a good question considering his connections lofty aspirations with him, raced most impressively at 2 in his lone start on today’s surface.

A prudent move would be use all three for the 50-Cent minimum, pressing in the order listed above.

Given the urgency of the Wood situation, we would be shocked if the winner of this Grade 1 did not come from either of the favorites; Alpha (5-2) or Gemologist (8-5). Larger bankrolls might want to include My Adonis (8-1), Street Life (4-1) and The Lumber Guy (8-1), in that order. Personally, we’re using the two choices.

We voted for Caleb’s Posse (8-5) for Eclipse champion 3-year-old; that is the kind of regard we have for Donnie Von Hemel’s multiple Grade 1 winner.

One only need watch a replay of his finish in the G3 Tom Fool, his 4-year-old debut, to understand why he is our single in this sequence. In a press situation, we would include the Godolphin entry of Emcee and Tahitian Warrior (7-2) as a back-up/tiny score position. If we do that, we will have multiple tickets with Caleb’s Posse.

As an aside, our preference in the entry is for Emcee, who wasn’t ready for the pressure he faced in the Tom Fool. That experience, and the added furlong, is in his favor.

The basic 50-Cent All Stakes ticket--a 3 by 3 by 2 by 1 sequence--costs $9.

Written by John Pricci

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