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, 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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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lukas And Zito Even Money To Join Classics Chase In Baltimore

For the first time in two decades, no Bob Baffert, no Wayne Lukas and no Nick Zito in the Kentucky Derby. So you thought maybe that trend would continue? Cmon!

The two Hall of Famers in the trio are going to the Preakness. Lukas is being a bit coy about whether he will run Flying First Class or Starbase. Zito wont say for sure either until C P West works again next Monday.

Its even-money that both will be dining on crab cakes at some point next week.

The proposition as to which Lukas colt was probably settled Tuesday. Five furlongs in :58 3/5 at Churchill Downs makes Flying First Class odds-on to start in Baltimore.

The Derby Trial winner is faster than his stablemate, owns the tactical style suited for Pimlico and figures to sit a trip in behind speedsters Hard Spun and Teuflesberg. In a perfect Lukas world, thats how youd draw it up.

For Starbase, it could be the Peter Pan and Belmont Stakes thats in the back of his mind. Interesting to see how this plays out.

C P West has been a bit of a disappointment for Zito. Not unlike Nobiz Like Shobiz, he has not developed significantly from his two-year-old season. His Withers placing was good but should have been better. But he, too, has Preakness style, only from a little farther back off the pace .

It will be a tall order for either horse to threaten the Derby colts. They are just a little too good, a little to battle tested. But this is horse racing and both horsemen have been there before. Hey, the more the merrier, though the field is limited to 14 starters and one starting gate.

Written by John Pricci

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Barbaro Effect Helps Raise NBC’s National Derby Ratings

There was tremendous potential among the serious contenders going into Kentucky Derby 133 but there was no star attraction, not even undefeated Curlin. But there is one coming out, maybe more than one. Still, there were no compelling reasons for the NBC Sports overnight ratings to improve 12 percent over last year's unless, of course, one considers the Barbaro Effect.

Barbaro was one of the Derby's pre-race storylines and there's no doubt his spirit helped to raise consciousness among racing fans and sports-event fans, especially those that occasionally enjoy a slice of Americana on the side.

Nice to know in this age that Americans can still agree and feel good about one thing.

There were NBA and NHL playoffs to divert Derby focus, not to mention New York Yankees' pitcher Chien-Ming Wangs flirtation with a perfect game. Despite all this, the Derby telecast drew strong ratings that will be even better when national ratings are released officially on Thursday.

For the race portion of the two-hour telecast, 13.8 million people watched the Kentucky Derby nationally, up 7% from last year. Final national ratings were a strong 8.8 with a 21 share, the percentage of sets in use. This was a 5% increase over 2006.

The feeling here is that there will be a stronger level of interest in this year's Preakness, too, now that many believe Street Sense is a viable Triple Crown candidate and that Derby runnerup Hard Spun has an excellent chance to avenge his Derby defeat In Baltimore.

Pimlico Race Course, of course, was the scene of Barbaro's terribly freakish break-down in last year's race.

Written by John Pricci

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