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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Friday, July 08, 2016

All-Entrants Thumbnails of Stars & Stripes Late Pick 4 at Belmont


By John Pricci, exclusively for

Comments from July 2 PICK 4 on GP winners and notable money finishers

RACE 10: 1-Delta Bluesman (5-2) is the latest Navarro miracle. Seeking third straight and will be very tough out if runs back to either of last two; layover figures on the Pricci Energy Rating scale (won, $5.00). 3-Limousine Liberal (2-1), still seeking first graded win, has been highly competitive in graded company. Worthy (5) 2-2-0 slate at the trip but lacks Gulfstream experience; mixed signals (2nd, $10.20 exacta).

RACE 11: 7-Doctor J Dub (15-1) battled on the pace in overnighter won by ‘Successful’ before tiring then given conditioner going longer with blinkers off in last. Back to sensible trip with blinkers back on switching to Gaffalione (won, 58.00). 8-Daring Kathy (7-2) is meeting males for second straight time after finishing second in the Bonita last out. Stakes-toughened 5YO fits the dynamics and is very worthy (6) 3-1-0 on this course. Well spotted, Cornelio sticks, poised for forward move; main danger (2nd, 223.40 exacta).

RACE 12: 7-Spelling Again (3-1) ships south for upper trainer Cox, profitable in graded stakes and with ship-ins, including (3) 1-1-0 slate this meet. Grade 2 winner was good third two back in G2 Ruffian behind freaking Cavorting--repeated in G1 Phipps beneath L Saez, taking a return call here (won, 8.80). 1-Cali Star (9-2), clearly pointed to this, is very well suited to dynamics—one turn mid-distance sprint, comes into this off a series of bullets for Wolfson, 25% effective with his beaten favorites. Cornelio batting 22% since returning to SoFla (2nd, 42.00 exacta).

RACE 13: 2-Sweetontheladies (15-1) is going off mixed signals here with steady workline for 18% debut sire but barn is 1-for-21 with its recent newcomers (won, 20.80). 3-Hidden Journey (4-1) earned competitive first-out PER, continuing gamely for third following wide rally. But pedigree on the light side and barn 0-for-46 thus far in 2016. Tough read for us (2nd, 131.20 exacta).


1-TOUGHEST ‘OMBRE (30-1) could not handle listed stakes runners in last two and not particularly well bred for added distance; will try trip-sitting here.
2-RALIS (20-1) potential sneaky price play following bold too late finish vs. listed SoCal stakes rivals and bred bottom side for the trip; Gutierrez flying in for O’Neill and will need good trip to have any chance with this group.
3-APPLICATOR (50-1) set slow pace to beat weaker on sun-baked GP course last time out; highly unlikely here despite career best Thoro-Graph figure.
4-HIGHLAND SKY (8-1) has never failed to fire in deep stretch and narrowly missed with strong finish in G3 Pennine Ridge prep for this; added distance might not suit as pedigree a little light for the trip.
5-SURGICAL STRIKE (15-1) showed marked improvement adding blinkers to win G3 Arlington Classic last out; very consistent on grass this year, coming from strong turf family, and attracts Leading rider Ortiz. Value on early line or greater.
6-CAMELOT KITTEN (5-1) is 2-for-2 on this course without defeat since Chad added blinkers, and has won three races with Irad in the boot. Has excellent kick and experience in large fields.
7-LONG ISLAND SOUND (7-2) Euros usually have our turf runners over a barrel and this one comes in off third in Ascot Group 3 debut behind recent repeater winner. Aidan O’Brien has success with runners shipping on short rest and adds Lasix, per usual.
8-AIROFORCE (10-1) showed shades of former self with excellent, troubled placing behind undefeated filly stablemate Catch a Glimpse in G3 Penn Mile. Owns highly competitive Pricci Energy Ratings for the group but this is a completely different ballgame.
9-BEACH PATROL (12-1) raced dully in that same race making Eastern debut for D’Amato now makes second start for Chad. Owns top PERs from SA and bred both sides for added ground; improvement expected.
10-HUMPHREY BOGART (10-1) exits a pair of tough Group events over there, regular rider comes with the package and trainer Hernon adding first-Lasix. Distance is not an issue.
11-AQUAPHOBIA (20-1) validated our May 21 Pimlico trip notes “flying finish 4-path fastest of all!” with routine Delaware prep wide-rally score first-time Bravo, re-riding here. Not sure he’s of this class but retains lots of upside potential; excellent value on early line.
12-CALL PROVISION (10-1) tall order even for a Chad turfer. Finished well for third in Pennine Ridge making stakes debut last out but Saturday only third career start.
13-DEAUVILLE (4-1) is best of the Euros on paper given lots of Group 1 and Group 2 experience in which he was highly competitive with some of Europe’s best 3-year-olds. Jamie Spencer comes with the package, mitigating the draw somewhat, and O’Brien adding first-Lasix, of course.


1-NOBLE BIRD (4-1) stopped after sharing torrid G1 Met Mile pace which followed lifetime best winning G3 Pimlico Special under similar dynamic. Casse runners often rebound off bad runs and might shake loose from inside in one-and-a-half turner.
2-MUBTAAHIJ (7-2) was second to California Chrome in Dubai World Cup last out March 26; class dropping with solid, very unusual workline for Kiaran and 4YO gets Lasix first time in career. Barn 23% profitable with 90-days+ layups.
3-SHAMAN GHOST (5-1) was an impressive winner of G2 Brooklyn in second start for Jimmy Jerkens but turnback from 12 furlongs to 10 a tough transition pace-wise. But JJ is profitable 25% in LAY-3 scenarios and Rosario a perfect fit; 4YO still has upside.
4-EAGLE (5-1) has had a very good 2016 (6) 1-4-1 in top company including G1 placing to tough pro Bradestar in G1 Foster last out; Never fails to fire and is bred both side for stretchout from 9F.
5-EFFINEX (5-2) threw in a bad one in wide trip non-effort as the Foster favorite after solid score over Melatonin in Oaklawn ‘Cap prior; reunites with Smith and highly likely to improve on home grounds and at this trip.
6-TURCO BRAVO (20-1) was a willing second to Shaman Ghost in the Brooklyn without threatening for the win after winning prep prior; facing double-tough task on the turnback.
7-SAMRAAT (12-1) has raced competitively in all three starts off a lengthy layup but gave no indication he’s back to top 3YO form; will be a pace factor reuniting with J Ortiz.
8-TAPIN MOJO (50-1) comes from barn that has had super-surpise packages in the past but a two-year layup winning a $12,500 claimer last out. Aren’t there easier spots than this?


1-SECURE ACCESS (30-1) my trip note from Jun 2 Belmont: “outrun vs. fast pace, p 3 wide big move 3/8s, entered stretch 3 path behind horses, finally angled out and finished well 5 too late! Mile in 1:33 4/5 and bred for longer.” Here it is, Ortiz re-rides, but goes from allowances to G1.
2-DECKED OUT (15-1) has been highly competitive in G2s and G3s at SA this season, taking the G3 three back in fast time over yielding ground, her only win since mid-2015; pedigree light for this trip.
3-PRICEDTIPERFECTION (20-1) looked good winning G3 Sweetest Chant at GP going a mile for Chad, closing quickly in deep stretch after altering course several times; up in class and distance with light pedigree on bottom side.
4-TIME AND MOTION (6-1) is undefeated in three starts at 3 on three disparate courses including today’s. Comes up to added distance the right way, has two-sided route pedigree and Johnny, aboard for the three scores, takes the re-ride. Post and style suits dynamics nicely.
5-NOBLE BEAUTY (20-1) finished well too late for Chad when second in G3 Regret at CD, has two-sided distance pedigree now makes third start off the layup switching to Javier.
6-HARMONIZE (10-1) was very precocious at 2 and has run competitively in all starts at 3 but hasn’t shown development to a large extent. May have moved prematurely when second in Wonder Again prep for this; stable rider Alvarado aloft.
7-BALLYDOYLE (3-1) is Group 1 winner and multiply placed at Group level this year, poorest performance coming over soft ground last out. Hails from strong turf family, bred to run all day and night and, again, O’Brien adding first Lasix. Very worthy favorite.
8-AUNTIE JOY (12-1) won the G3 Regret last time out stretching out to 9F for the first time after setting slow pace. Light pedigree bottom wide for added distance and looms underlay on early line.
9-LAST WALTZ (30-1) raced 10th of 10 most of the way in the Wonder Again, finally got outside after entering the straight, passing seven rivals and getting up for third. Has gone well for Franco, owns long pedigree with money prospects at huge price.
10-LAND OVER SEA (20-1) Fair Grounds Oaks winner has been toughened in G1 and G2 company, including tough-trip Kentucky Oaks placing, after breaking maiden on Del Mar turf last July. Eliminated by rough trip in Black-Eyed Susan and spotted interestingly here. Might prove overlay given grass promise at 2 and certainly bred for the trip.
11-MAGNANIME (10-1) was beaten two lengths in Group 1 at Deauville in May, shipping in fresh and getting first-Lasix and white hot Leparoux, Legitimate dark horse might prove main danger to Euro favorite.
12-CATCH A GLIMPSE (2-1), a Horse to Watch since allowance winning turf debut at 2 and is now 7-for-7 on this surface, including defeat of males in G3 Penn Mile. Has more than enough gas to clear from the outside beneath Geroux, the country’s leading or near-leading 2016 stakes rider. Has excellent PERs and bottom-side distance pedigree.
13-COOLMORE (12-1) is a Group 3 winner and toughened in subsequent Group 1s. Form indicates she will appreciate faster U.S. ground and O’Brien, giving first Lasix, reaches out for first-time Jamie Spencer. Distance not an issue.


1-ANCHOR DOWN (3-1) was extremely game second behind the freaking Frosted in Met Mile following comprehensive open-lengths mile score. Likes Belmont (6) 2-2-0 but 1-for-4 at this trip and coming off enervating effort. Looms underlay on early line.
2-PRIVATE ZONE (2-1) finally makes his long awaited return following Brian Lynch fiasco and has been working bullets for months. Very well suited by conditions; (4) 3-0-1 at BEL and (7) 4-2-0 at the trip. Clearly the class but figures to meet strong early pressure.
3-NUBIN RIDGE (30-1) makes significant class rise, is 0-for-4 at trip and 1-for-6 at BEL; loses Franco but picks up Irad. Still…
4-ROXBURY N OVERTON (20-1) is a talented Parx-based sprinter with four exacta finishes including two wins at this specialized sprint distance; this is tougher than he’s accustomed to but worked bullet at home before shipping in and picking up Rosario. Forward TG pattern; money prospects at a price.
5-A.P. INDIAN (10-1) comes off rapidly run score at the distance at Parx, beating ‘Roxbury’ by 3 open lengths handily. Delacoar is 26% effective in LAY-3 situations and is having a career year—profitable at 29%. Gelded 6YO is 2-for-2 at trip and Bravo re-rides.
6-JOKING (10-1) got a good set-up and brilliant handling from Franco to give Baker his first graded victory. Closing style suits race shape and gelded 7YO loves BEL, given (8) 5-3-0 slate. Good position and has upset chance; potential value play.
7-GREEN GROTTO (15-1) won the G3 Fall Highweight last fall, had excellent winter but has been up against it when pitted against graded rivals. Yet another speed type with no proven affinity at the distance or the surface.
8-READY FOR RYE (8-1) is talented and versatile, well drawn, suited by dynamics, has a win and second in four starts at the trip with a preference for BEL with (4) 2-1-1 slate; Javier sticks and has solid upset credentials.
9-MARKING (4-1) turns back to what might be a perfect distance for his style after chasing the strong Met Mile pace, finishing ahead of six rivals in his first start since disappointing in Dubai’s G2 Godolphin Mile; broke maiden here, bullet at Greentree base and Lezcano on a return call; formidable rival if at tops.

See Saturday's Feature Race Analysis for On-the-Record Selections and at

Written by John Pricci

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Sunday, July 03, 2016

Gulfstream Winners Delta Bluesman and Spelling Again In Like Flynn at Santa Anita

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., July 2, 2016--A pair of shippers made the trek into heat of a steamy summer’s afternoon in South Florida and treated the locals, among others, as if they were in the race just to cool their heels.

For their efforts, Delta Bluesman and Spelling Again earned an expenses paid trip to Santa Anita for the November 5 Breeders’ Cup. Delta Bluesman won a berth in the Sprint; Spelling Again will take her talents to the Filly & Mare Sprint.

Shipping Again: Super-trainer Brian Cox is 24% profitable with his shippers according to the latest Bris statistics, Saturday’s score with Spelling Again his second win with one second in four SoFla spring sojourns.

“We obviously wouldn’t have flown her down there if we didn’t expect her to run well,” abruptly stated Cox . “She overcame some things, the tough trip and shipping and she rewarded us today with a big effort.”

Jockey Luis Saez’s description of the trip might have been more accurate: "It was a good set-up," said Saez. "She had a great trip. She broke good and she was right there. She was always very comfortable. I had a little pressure early but I knew I had enough horse.”

The filly with the toughest trip vs. the Grade 2 Princess Rooney dynamics was Cali Star, coming from well off the early pace with a sustained rally that nearly won it all, losing it by a bob of a nose at the finish.

“I got nervous,” Saez admitted. “That other horse was flying but I knew I just had to ride harder, and we got it."

Strong favorite Birdatthewire finished third after a premature, wide run on the turn that had her finishing one-paced at the end. Her best game is making the last run count. Perhaps she’ll get her revenge at Santa Anita, where she took the G1 LaBrea late last year at the same 7-furlong trip.

Sprinters…We’ve Got Lots and Lots of Sprinters:
For super-trainer Jorge Navarro, it’s an embarrassment of riches when it comes to fast horses. He has a 3-year-old bullet named X Y Jet. After taking Gulfstream by storm during the winter, Navarro thought enough of that colt to ship him to Dubai.

This spring, Navarro got his hands on Catalina Red and voila: A graded stakes score in his debut for the trainer on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

On Saturday, Navarro, jockey Emisael Jaramillo and the 6-year-old gray Delta Bluesman handled extremely hot pace pressure on the fence throughout and still would not be denied in the G2 Smile Sprint.

Repelling Chief Lion, who took a half-length lead on the turn before Delta Bluesman, re-breaking, out-sped six rivals to the wire to earn black type in his graded stakes debut.

“I was amazed that he dug in like that; he can be a chicken,” Navarro explained. “I thought, ‘Jaramillo, what are you doing?’ He doesn’t like horses coming next to him.”

“The pace was violent,” said Jaramillo of the 43.81 half-mile. “I just rode my horse. He came back when I asked him, he never gave up.”

Jaramillo used all his guile and strength to get to the line in 1:08.94 over a drying-out wet track that did not play especially fast throughout the afternoon.

“This was his fourth start in two months,” Navarro said of the immediate future. “I’m going to give him 50-60 days [off] and then find one or two races before the Breeders’ Cup.” Sounds like a plan.

Summit of Speed Performances of Note…

Churchill Superstar:
With a G3 title available, G1-placed Rated R Superstar, toughened going long on the Triple Crown trail early this year, has found his niche sprinting, coming from well off Awesome Banner’s fast pace to nail the formerly undefeated-at-sprint-distances odds-on favorite at the wire.

It was his second straight sprint score and first graded stakes win. The owners made it plain to everyone their future plans post-race. “If he comes out of this one OK, we’re going right up to Saratoga.”

By phone, trainer McPeek agreed: “The [G1] King’s Bishop is next.”

“I think he can be a pretty nice sprinter, jockey Cornelio Velasquez added. “He ran long [in the spring] and I think he didn’t like it. Maybe seven-eighths is the best distance for him.”

It was on Saturday, catching heavily favored Awesome Banner right at the line.

Azaleas Anyone? Yes Dearest, and I’ll be sure to remain undefeated at distances of 7 furlongs or less, thank you.

Not that she needed help—nor Emisael Jaramillo’s whip, which the rider lost soon after the break—but got some unexpected aid when second choice Curlin’s Approval had her head turned when the latch was sprung.

After missing the break, Cornelio Velasquez curiously rushed her up into contention behind the leading pair. After all that, she was running on empty at headstretch. Not the winner, though.

The 1-5 favorite set sail for the finish after taking command before drawing off in midstretch under a vigorous hand ride, galloping out as if she’s ready to go farther.

Her only career loss was a third to Cathryn Sophia in the G2 Davona Dale going at flat mile here this winter. She looks ready to wade into the deep end of the pool once again.

No Hopalong for Cassidy Favorites: Perfect Kay broke sharply, was quickly joined by White Gold and it remained that way until nearing headstretch.

At that juncture, White Gold had enough and Perfect Kay appeared to be in control--that is until she began bobbing and weaving at midstretch, the pace pressure having taken a toll.

Perfect Kay’s uncoupled mate was the recipient of all this largesse, Cajun Delta Delta scooting up the rail at 17-1 to win by a half-length; given a perfect trip by jockey Juan Leyva.

Trips Rule:
Last time, Aire Bueno, had a bad one In Saturday’s Miesque’s Approval, Matthew Rispoli gave him a good one, rewarding himself with a riding double and giving trainer Chuck Simon a measure of redemption and trip handicappers got 4-1.

And So Too Three Rules:
That’s a horse, not a sub-headline. Yes, Three Rules enjoyed a perfect rail trip behind battling speed and got through clean as a whistle on the rail. But this young looks like a sprinter who might have graded stakes in his future.

The running time on the extremely hot afternoon was a solid 1:04.50 for 5-1/2 furlongs. The way he drew off after taking the lead left a favorable impression. Three Rules broke his maiden in slop June 10. On Saturday he repeated in fast footing after adding Lasix.

Don’t know how often trainer Jose Pinchin ships but can’t blame him if does a little Saratoga dreamin’ now. We shall see.

Of Course Speed’s Always Dangerous: There was no speed on paper in the grassy Spook Express but pick-up rider Rafael Hernandez knew what to do. He caught a flyer out of the gate with Pink Poppy, set a relaxed, controlled pace and improved her position.

Favorite Susie Bee rallied resolutely but never challenged the winner. The crowd thought Marty Wolfson would have Lori’s Store set for best off a recent short break. But she was nowhere near tops and rates to be much better next time.

Bets ‘N Pieces

Gulfstream Summit of Speed Handle
of over $9.7 Million represented an increase of 18 percent year over year, 108 percent compared 2013, the last time concept creator Calder Race Course hosted the event.

Does this mean a 14-race card is in the cards in 2017? Scheduled post for the 13th yesterday was 6:32. After a gate incident prior to the race, off time was 6:59 with a 12:15 first post.

Spring Meet Total Handle for the meet that concluded yesterday, was $276 million, a 12 percent rise from 2016…

Gulfstream to Host World Class Clasico Internacional del Caribe, it announced the Confederation of Caribbean Tracks Friday. Stronach Group official Tim Ritvo was in town for the meeting to help shaping the details for the event set for December, 2017. We anticipate the event will kick off the 2017-18 Championship Meet. The Claiming Crown program has had that honor in recent years.

Javier Castellano
, in for the Summit of Speed program, was excited when discussing the event with officials before yesterday’s card. The Clasico is a very big deal among the extensive South American riding colony in the US. The event is similar in concept to the Breeders’ Cup in that it moves from country to country each year--the way the Breeders’ Cup was supposed to until it somehow lost his way…

NYRA Deserves Props for Putting the Player First

Following the completion of Friday’s eighth race at Belmont, the New York Racing Association incorrectly posted the order of finish and made the race “official” prior to the error being discovered.

Appropriately--unlike some other venues--the association decided to take the haircut and paid bettors on both the "official" and "actual" order of finish for the eighth-race superfecta. Resultantly, NYRA paid off on four combinations: 1-4-5-2, 1-4-5-3, 1-5-4-2 and 1-5-4-3.

This is not the first time NYRA has compensated bettors after making an error. Further, like it or not, NYRA was the first to institute a “purse-money-only” rule in the event of unanticipated late scratch in a common-interest entry. At once, this protects the player and doesn’t punish the remaining horse’s connections. Kudos to them for getting it right.

Three-Year-Olds in Saturday Spotlight

American Freedom
earned his first graded stakes victory with a comprehensive score in the G3 Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows Friday night for Killer B’s Baffert and Bejarano. Owned by Gary and Mary West, he covered 1-1/16 miles in 1:42.62…

After setting a fast, pressured pace, Off the Tracks continued straight and strong to the wire for the Pletcher/Jose Ortiz team, winning the G1 Mother Goose by 3-1/2 lengths over solid-finish runnerup, Lewis Bay.

Show finisher Lightstream rallied fastest of all late, the race run in a snappy 1.41.01. Favored Rachel’s Valentina stumbled at the start but again showed no pop in the lane. After a promising season’s debut in the Ashland, she just is not the same filly.

Written by John Pricci

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Friday, July 01, 2016

Summit of Speed Late Pick 4 Ell-Entrants Analysis

Exclusively for via promotional agreement

Comments from June 25 PICK 4 winners and notable money finishers

RACE 7: 9-Captain Moss (2-1) showed much improvement after getting back on Belmont turf two back; earned superior PER beating allowance types last out but qualifies for return to starters’ claiming company; worthy favorite repeats with similar effort (won $3.60). 8-Gracious Plenty (6-1) showed improvement vs. open 40K claimers last out and is better placed with these going longer with appropriate pedigree; worked thrice since last and picks up leading rider Ortiz. (2nd 10-1, 16.60 exacta).

RACE 8: 8-Ready Dancer (8-1)
is second off the layup for Pletcher returning at appropriately longer trip. Has been victimized by series of tough trips and gets switch to Rosario; solid contender (won 37.20). 3-Conviction (6-1) comes up to this nicely after graduating distances following two-turn score at Monmouth last out. Uncoupled Pletcher runner attracts Saez, is bred topside for this trip. Tricky read for us. (2nd 7-1, 261.50 ex).

RACE 9: 1-By the Moon (6-1)
makes second start following lengthy layoff and just missed in G1 Acorn going a mile on this strip last season. Toughened in G1s, she appeared in need of recent G3 Distaff now reunites with J Ortiz. Gets six pounds from ML fave and has been working purposefully for two months; value on early line for live filly. (won 6.20). 2-Wavell Avenue (6-5) is the obvious fave as winner of the BC Filly and Mare upsetter last year and raced evenly late at G1 level in both starts this year. Chad winning everything in sight but gives weight to all and looms underlay given early line quote (2nd 1-1, 16.60).

RACE 10: 9-Lucky Town (20-1) showed improvement in third lifetime start after dropping to this level and getting first Lasix. Ubilio profitable with in LAY-2 scenario and switches to promising 7-pound bug boy Torres [winner yesterday] (won 74.50). 1-Freedom Seven (12-1) raced well without threatening in turf/racing debut, finishing well too late, and hasn’t been back in a turf sprint since. Lifetime best at this trip on wet track two back now picks up Franco; wakeup potential here (2nd 9-1, 876.00 ex).



1-Delta Bluesman (5-2) is the latest Navarro miracle. Seeking third straight and will be very tough out if runs back to either of last two; layover figures on the Pricci Energy Rating scale.

2-Eighty Three (3-1) makes third start off freshening for Jacobson, 23% effective with shippers. Stalk and kick style nicely suits race dynamics.

3-Limousine Liberal (2-1)
, still seeking first graded win, has been highly competitive in graded company. Worthy (5) 2-2-0 slate at the trip, has competitive Thoro-Graph figures but lacks Gulfstream experience; mixed signals.

4-Storming Inti (30-1), reported first-time gelding, makes only second start at this trip on dirt from 24 lifetime starts and steps up from claimers. Seriously overmatched.

5-Chief Lion (7-2), earned excellent PER at SA three back, competitive with uncoupled mate Eighty Three, will be part of the pace along with ‘Bluesman’. Either capable of wiring without the other…

6-More Applause (20-1), another stalk and pounce type, doesn’t finish all that well and meets very tough group here.

7-Copingaway (30-1)
goes turf to dirt for low percentage barn that’s profitable in that scenario but is up against it class-wide. Reunites with winning rider Castro, turns back (profitable angle) and owns GP and a win at the trip. Gimmicks surprise?

RACE 11 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint 5 FURLONGS

1-Starship Wildcat (15-1) raced wide in prep for this but has left higher percentage outfit, gives away class edge but does get switch to aggressive and hot Rafael Hernandez.

2-Successful Native (9-5) won aforementioned prep off a March freshening and has earned highly competitive PERs with similar. Specialist is a 5-time course and distance winner. Owns fastest last race on the Thoro-Graph scale; worthy favorite.

3-Shadow Rock (5-1) earned a winning figure on this course at the trip four starts back and was claimed from last by claiming turf ace Mike Maker. Might have beaten similar in recent Churchill finale, attracts Luis Saez and may provide value; note.

4-Speechify (4-1) goes off the layup for Nicks, profitable with 90-days+ returnees, is graded stakes placed on main track and was second on this course at trip last fall; Javier Castellano down from New York for today’s card.

5-Besame (20-1) is not quite fast enough, classy enough or profiles classy enough on this surface to be taken very seriously in this spot.

6-Moonstricking (30-1)
entered here after escaping maiden claiming ranks last time out. Seriously?

7-Doctor J Dub (15-1) battled on the pace in overnighter won by ‘Successful’ before tiring then given conditioner going longer with blinkers off in last. Back to sensible trip with blinkers back on switching to Gaffalione.

8-Daring Kathy (7-2) is meeting males for second straight time after finishing second in the Bonita last out. Stakes-toughened 5YO fits the dynamics and is very worthy (6) 3-1-0 on this course. Well spotted, Cornelio sticks, poised for forward move; main danger.

9-Do the Roar (8-1)
is yet another that was hard used early in the Bonita and stayed very well until late stretch [see replay]. May enjoy good stalking trip from outside beneath re-riding Caraballo; money prospects at early line odds.


1-Cali Star (9-2), clearly pointed to this, is very well suited to dynamics—one turn mid-distance sprint, comes into this off a series of bullets for Wolfson, 25% effective with his beaten favorites. Cornelio batting 22% since returning to SoFla.

2-Be Mind Phil (30-1)
showed marked improvement winning optional allowances last out, earning career best PER, is a three-time winner at the trip and (2) 1-1-0 on this course. Goes well for Samy Camacho and looms price money-shot at early line odds.

3-Willow Hills (10-1) has strong, purposeful workline returning from a lengthy layup for capable outfit, is 1-for-1 at the trip and owns figure from last spring capable of upsetting this. Needs career best to do so, however.

4-Birdatthewire (8-5), consistently fastest on PER and T-G scale, is a classy multiple graded winner, including G1 La Brea at the trip. Pointed to this ‘win-and-in’ B Cup race. Loves the distance (2-for-4) and GP (3) 2-1-0. Romans/Gaffalione a good team this winter. No excuses.

5-Concealedwithakiss (20-1)
will be part of the pace, is unproven at the distance and not nearly close to this level on paper; extremely tall order.

6-My Miss Valenzuela (15-1)
earned excellent PER when third at this trip last fall, has made good development from 3 to 4 and won recent 6F prep for this. Might shake loose for aggressive Hernandez and worth a serious look at anything near early line odds.

7-Spelling Again (3-1) ships south for upper trainer Cox, profitable in graded stakes and with ship-ins, including (3) 1-1-0 slate this meet. Grade 2 winner was good third two back in G2 Ruffian behind freaking Cavorting--repeated in G1 Phipps beneath L Saez, taking a return call here.

8-Kiss to Remember (5-1)
has yet to regain 2015 form but is cycling back to tops going turf to dirt for Wolfson (20%) and getting switch to Jaramillo, (3) 2-1-0 for this barn of late. Will need pace meltdown to be most effective.

RACE 13 Maiden Special Weight 2 YOs 5 furlongs

1-Awesome Bay (20-1) debuts in a tough spot but by 12% first-out sire and dam has two winners from as many starters. But this race appears loaded, barn not known for FTS effectiveness and draws pole position.

2-Sweetontheladies (15-1) is going off mixed signals here with steady workline for 18% debut sire but barn is 1-for-21 with its recent newcomers.

3-Hidden Journey (4-1)
earned competitive first-out PER, continuing gamely for third following wide rally. But pedigree on the light side and barn 0-for-46 thus far in 2016. Tough read for us.

4-Leverkusen (20-1) more mixed signals here as dam’s first foal for barn batting 4% on the year but is by 18% debut sire.

5-Epic Drama (7-2) Queen homebred is working on schedule—strongly and rapidly--for debut for Fawkes, having a strong meet. Dam’s first foal by capable debut sire (14%). Attracts Castro, riding at 18% for this outfit from large sample.

6-In Sum Fun (20-1)
was virtually eliminated at the start of his debut for low profile barn that does well with its babies overall and gets Panici on the re-ride. Improves, but enough to compete here??

7-Awesome Standard (12-1) made brief run along the inside before tiring in debut now returns for Casse, 22% profitable with its second-time starters and worked purposeful 5F, presumably in his new blinkers. Value on early line.

8-Unbridled Holiday (6-1) debuts for Biancone, long known for his effectiveness with debuting 2YOs. Woke up work-wise in recent blowout for this and attracts hot-riding Raffy Hernandez; live newcomer.

9-How Time Flies (10-1)
has nature and nurture with capable first-out connections, strong debut pedigree—20% first-out sire; dam has two winners from as many starters, including a stakes winner. Attracts Cornelio; another live firster.

10-Brave Rooster (8-1)
owns sharp, short workline and debuts for 25% first-out sire for barn profitable with its newcomers from a small sample and having profitable 2016. Live apprentice Cruz takes the call; interesting as potential value play.

11-Knockout Ranger (9-2) earned top PER in debut, went to turf, now returns to main tracks with experience for barn profitable turf-to-dirt, with special-weight maidens and with its beaten favorites. Want more? Pilotti names Javier.

12-Science to Win (30-1)
has virtually unknown pedigree on both sides and barn, while profitable 9%, not generally known for first-out effectiveness.

13AE-Legacy Azteca (20-1)
, adding blinkers, trailed after bearing out from wide post in debut, a common affliction for juvenile newcomers. Had purposeful work from gate and could improve quickly here. Interesting at early line odds.

See Saturday's Feature Race Analysis for On-the-Record Selections and Running Totals since 2007

Written by John Pricci

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