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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Saturday, June 02, 2012

Pick 4: Select Winners; Collect Reward

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, JUNE 2, 2012—Due to popular demand [two horseplayers] we will attempt to divine the Late Pick 4 at Belmont Park again this Saturday replete with a $350,000 guaranteed pool.

And just like last week—no excuses, just an opinion—it’s a difficult, wide open sequence, the iffy weather forecast making it even more treacherous than it appears already.

Per usual, we’ll suggest the plays at the end of the analysis, but please stay open to the elements and wager accordingly. We did take all possibilities into account but, of course, late scratches can change everything, sometimes dramatically. Here goes:

Race 7: Two strong favorites among the choices; McCarren Park (3-1), certainly consistently fast enough on the Equiform scale, can handle any surface and loves the distance (6) 3-1-0. There’s already been a winner from one starter out of his last. Smokin’ Alice (4-1) comes off a Delayed Pace Top, earning a figure that blows away the field, just another Rudy Rodriguez improvement case.

Union Victory (7-2) has a figure at the distance good enough to win this and boasts excellent wet track pedigree; Catalonia (10-1) earned an excellent figure winning debut last season, owns two-sided wet pedigree and :48 2/5 breeze was 13th of 97 in peer group for the week.

Race 8: To turf or not; that is the question. On turf, we’re spreading four deep; Departures (3-1), well spotted and from a barn that excels in Layoff-3 situations and getting big switch to Castellano, and Strolldownbroadway (6-1), coming off a Turf Decline Line for the team of Bond and Ramon, 007 a profitable 25% efficient in Layoff-2 scenarios. Tight bankrolls can concentrate here. Otherwise…

Robert The Bruce (4-1) is properly spotted here and had great breeze; half-mile in :48 which was 8th fastest of 97 in peer group and Orchestra Leader (5-1) comes from race producing three next-out winners and tries claimers for the first time. Larger bankrolls should consider including Pikestar (8-1) from terrific connections and with good spacing after going 1-for-1 with blinkers added.

Race 9 Grade 2 Vagrancy: Very trappy but we’re settling on three. Belle Of The Hall (8-1) loves the surface (4) 2-1-1 and the hybrid distance (7) 3-1-0 and blew out very well—half in :48 (5/65 in peer group). Nicole H. (2-1) is consistently fastest but ability at distance a bit suspect. C. C.’s Pal (5-2) is getting needed class relief.

Larger bankrolls should seriously consider the fresh Kid Kate (6-1) from Chad Brown who can get the ready and is white hot through Thursday (7) 4-0-1.

Race 10: Four solid must-inclusions are Magic Middleton (5-2) from Levine/Repole team with great stats in relevant categories with turf ace Castellano; Soup A’ Fleet (8-1) with very competitive figures coming off Delayed Pace Low with switch to Rajiv.

The other two are Go For Two (5-1), making his first start off the Rodriguez claim (28%) switching to Ramon and Bundestag (5-1), who broke through in season’s debut and now trying weaker with hot riding Cornelio.

Astonish (3-1) has had her chances bit has improved somewhat with blinkers and attracts Rosie.

50-Cent Main Ticket: 2, 4 with 2, 6, 9, 10 with 1A, 2, 3 with 4, 5, 6, 7 = $48

Note: If 8th race rescheduled to main track, #3 Nonno’s Boy [4-1] is a must use. In 9th race, #4 Kid Kite (6-1) and in 10th race, #9 Astonish (3-1) can be added.

Written by John Pricci

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