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, April 29, 2016

Handicapping Sketches of All Belmont Late P4 Starters

By John Pricci
Exclusively for http://www.123BET.COM

Judging from the returns, last Saturday’s Pick 4 analysis at Keeneland proved popular with bettors and readers. And so that will be the theme until you say differently.

Today’s handicapping thumbnail sketches of every entrant in the late Pick 4 from Belmont will be listed in post-position order with early line odds.

Meant as an objective guide to your own handicapping, we effort to include key pluses and minuses that should prove the difference between success and failure.

As always, we seek true value relative to the handicapping merits—not just odds-based alone—and will express the occasional betting “lean” or advisory when warranted.


Visualize (8-5) is the first of many suspicious dropdowns in this event. Earned good Pricci Energy Rating in 2015 debut. $240K purchase is offered for sale. Todd wins more than his share of these but potential claimers beware… Given the scenario, switch to Johnny and bullet works the good news and the bad news.

Porch Pounder (5-1) comes off New Pace Top in second start off the layup and earned highly competitive performance figure. Properly spotted coming back with leading rider Jose Ortiz on a return call. Fair value on early line.

Gloves Off (12-1) turns back from route going turf to dirt and went well when third in only dirt start sprinting. Anthony Dutrow profitable with maiden claimers and is 26% effective going turf-to-dirt. First-time Javier offers value at early odds.

Tricky Citizen (15-1) makes 3YO debut dropping in with claimers for first time for Nevin, a worthy 40% with her last 28 such entrants and is returning as new gelding. Working purposefully and properly spotted; Cornelio sticks.

Policy Portfolio (6-1) has nature and nurture. Sire is 19% with debut runners and Violette a profitable first-out horsemen with same 19% strike rate. Steady, albeit not flashy, workline but is $200 purchase offered up for 50K first out. Mixed signals.

Do Share (12-1), Goldberg having great 2016, profitable while winning at 23% with all runners. Both sibs to start are winners and trainer an ace with debut types. Gets Irad.

Pure Excitement (15-1) was beaten off in well-meant MSW debut and now $350K purchase returns at drastically reduced level. Switches to apprentice and connections giving up quickly on this one.

Tea and Cricket (20-1) is working his way down the ladder after being offered for $75K as first-claimer last out. Has conditioning on the turnback while making dirt debut as first-gelding. Intriguing price shot.

Cornedbeefncabbage (15-1) hails from Ryerson shed, profitable in all relevant categories; two of 3 sibs are win-early victors. Training steadily since early March, albeit not very quickly.

Our Karma (10-1) earned excellent Pricci Energy Rating when good second to weaker in debut despite roughed start. Imperio barn having quietly effective 2016, Luzzi sticks and is taking confident class hike. Excellent value at anything near early line.

Heliodoro (8-1)
has had seven chances at long odds and never has seriously threatened. First-time claimers, reunites with Saez, but still quite a reach.


Groupthink (15-1), like most, has improved off the Gargan claim. Two lifetime wins on this surface and 2-for-4 at the trip--1-for-16 doing anything else. Not as fast as early line favorite and loses Carmouche to same rival. Close to early odds a bargain.

Bellamy Way (9-5) owns excellent PERs and was a game second at odds-on after venturing into open company in Big A flat-mile finale. Cannizzo is 26% profitable with his beaten favorites, has surface win, and Carmouche sticks.

Saratoga Wildcat (6-1) jumped up in Big A winter track finale when second to N3 lifers in second start off Rudy’s claim. Good steady works, spotted confidently, and Irad takes a return call.

Rally Cry (7-2) on balance has disappointing profile but is getting big time class relief dropping out of G3. Nicely freshened and Todd reaches out for first-time Johnny. Very well placed vs. this group.

Mister Monolo (10-1) made good midrace move last out then tired perceptibly. Both lifetime wins at trip but form has been spotty overall. Uncoupled mate of Sea Raven and Alvarado takes the re-ride. Mixed signals.

Sea Raven (6-1) was less than 2 lengths behind the favorite in Big A finale, owns surface win, Gyarmati profitable in LAY-3 scenarios but this one is winless in five starts on this ground and gives away a few pounds here.

Waymond Boyd (5-1) moved forward in both starts at 4, showing late development, is bred for additional ground, Morley profitable with third-off-layup runners and with his allowance types; Jose Ortiz re-rides.

Rich ‘n’ Tuck (20-1) is coming off a soft sprint win but owns just enough pedigree for longer trip; Toscano profitable with attempted repeaters and when stretching to route off two sprints. Cornelio sticks; generous early odds.


Mosler (6-1) earned lifetime best PER at this trip, on this course, in this race last year. Three sibs all winners, two in stakes, and Mott is 22% effective in non-graded stakes. Worked bullets at deeper Payson since February. Spotted to win off the break.

King Kreesa (4-1) vaunted New York-bred owns life slate of (28) 9-6-4 including open graded stakes, is 1-for-2 at the trip and a worthy 7-for-15 on this course. Classy and fresh speedster likely to shake loose, especially beneath regular partner, Jose Ortiz.

A Lot (12-1) was extremely and quizzically dull off a short break in February at Tampa now returns at optimal distance and likes this course (5) 2-1-1. Makes first start for Chad, has tactical speed and gets patient Irad for potential one-run effort. Live price shot.

Bye Bye Bernie (8-1) has excellent Energy figs in shorter turf sprints and was graded stakes winner in Canada. Finished well too late from 12th in KEE season’s debut after altering course [see replay]. Picks up Saez for live Walsh barn. Hunch player’s special?

Green Mask (2-1) owns serious class edge dropping out of two Grade 1s. Was tough trip, game finish third when narrowly beaten in BC Turf Sprint. Favorably weighted, gets along well with Rosario and Ward, 23% with 90-day+ layups, suddenly has come alive.

Ready for Rye (6-5) Main Track Only

Sandy’z Slew (15-1) is capable of hounding King Kreesa and earned his best Energy Rating on this course last year. Game second to hard-hitter Plainview at distance over course but remains winless at Belmont and finds tough spot for winning return.

Kharafa (10-1) is a legendary New York bred gelding that has compiled a lifetime slate of (32) 11-9-4. Seven of 11 have come here and he’s won and placed in only two starts at the trip. A tough return spot even reuniting with Javier. Worthy price shot at early odds or greater.

Spartiatis (30-1) serious underlay at this price.

Big Guy Ian (20-1) is another that could challenge ‘Kreesa’ if quarter-horsed out of the gate but 5YO has no turf experience. Talented but badly overmatched on grass.

Stallwalkin’ Dude (5-2) Main Track Only

Artic Brave (5-1) has found a tough spot shipping in for Sharp, especially given wide draw. Talented turfer (14) 5-4-2 has no experience over course and distance--big negatives here. Underlay at early line odds.


Wyeth (5-1) is gelded 3YO making debut for Chad, profitable with turf debut types. Steady PMM works dating back to March 1, sharp half-mile moves presumably spaced around long gallops. Some Candy Ride’s take to turf, some not, and this is dam’s first foal. Javier takes the call.

Gee Pee Ess (7-2) has moved forward in all turf starts, a series of quickly run 5F GP turf sprints. Bred for this turf and sprints and attracts premier speed rider Jose Ortiz, regular stable rider for Nevin.

Conquest See Ya (9-2) finished well for third in debut over WO Tapeta April 9 as part of heavily bet Casse entry. Owns sharp subsequent blowout with switch to Lezcano, who did a lot of winning riding for this outfit at GP.

Mystery Solved (20-1) is turf meant on both sides and Servis has won with two of his last nine turf-debut runners with three in-the-money finishes. Been in training at Belmont since January; won’t be conditioning that gets him beaten.

Jess I Am (15-1) has run competitively in recent dirt sprints and had rough trip in only grass start going long; reunites with Carmouche but dam’s two foals are both winless thus far.

These Blues (30-1) hails from top turf barn of David Donk and returns quickly off dull dirt debut in which he was extremely wide entering stretch for outfit 17% effective with second-time starters. Could improve quickly with Arroyo on the re-ride.

Drop Shot (4-1) earned very good Pricci Energy figures in three lifetime dirt starts in which he went favorite in all. Has had four sharp works since latest now turns back for turf debut for Jimmy Jerkens, 22% effective with shippers. Attracts Cancel.

Henrik Rules (12-1) was dull in second start this winter over Aqueduct Inner, tiring badly after pace battle. Not particularly well bred for grass but gets first-time Irad. Mixed signals.

Nagafeer (15-1) is well bred both sides for turf, dam producing four turf winners from five starters, including stakes winner. Steady local works since January for McLaughlin, profitable on turf and with turf-debut types. Reaches for Saez.

Kettles On (30-1) earned decent figure when beaten off by top prospect in lone dirt start at Tampa. Morley barn profitable with second-time starters, as with first-turfers, winning with 24% efficiency. Mare had turf winner from two victors. Price shot for minors.

Mr. Neetie (8-1) exits useful turf sprint going 5F at GP, earning highly competitive Energy figure. Switches to Johnny getting first-Lasix. Barn 2 for its last 5 in Lasix scenario, 27% efficient with shippers and profitable with second-time starters. Potential value.

Silent Mission (8-1) showed much improved early speed turning back into short turf sprint at FG vs. winners. Back with maidens switching to Rosario with three recent sharp works for Ward since last.

See Saturday's Feature Race Analysis for On the Record Selections via promotional arrangement with

Written by John Pricci

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Saturday’s Keeneland Late Pick 4 Horse Profiles

Exclusively for

As the 2016 Keeneland spring meet comes to a close, we’re going out with a detailed look AT the late Pick 4, a sequence that includes the Grade 2 Elkhorn for older males going 1-1/2 miles on the turf.

The following is handicapping thumbnail sketch of every runner entered in today’s sequence, listed in post-position order with early line odds:

RACE 7: ALLOWANCES Non-Winners of $7,500 twice 4 & Up 5-1/2 Furlongs TURF

Dingdingdingding (10-1) Recent turf debut was even effort in moderate time following trouble on turn. Of dam’s three winners to race, none have won on grass; 58 1/5 at TP, fastest of 21 peers that week, is rolling!

Shadow Rock (3-1)
Strong contender despite class rise. Six time winner at the trip—his only lifetime victories, lifetime best Pricci Energy Rating came on this course. Improved last out after trouble in GP finale and Dickey is (5) 2-2-0 here through Wednesday.

Sylvan Park (15-1)
Lifetime wins were on turf but at 5 furlongs, not 5-1/2 and front wraps back on for latest run. Trainer profitable with turf runners; drops out of Grade 2.

Protection (10-1)
Excellent connections but is 1-for-18 lifetime on grass, meets tougher, and Energy Ratings lower than major rivals.

Whiskey Bravo (5-1)
Gelded 6YO has won half of 14 lifetime turf starts at this trip! Ships in seeking fourth straight with excellent Energy Ratings and is first time off Cox claim; 27% efficiency and profitable. “Single” potential.

Ray's Warrior (3-1)
Late developing 4YO has won two of last three on OP dirt, earning excellent rating last out. Barn recently 1-for-14 with turf debut types and mare’s four winners yet to win on turf.

Cat's In The Mood (12-1)
One-for-one on turf but win came at 5 furlongs on minor circuit. Earned highly competitive rating at 6F on Turfway Synth last out and barn profitable with both turf and allowance types. Interesting.

Heywood's (50-1)
Winless on turf in 7 starts and slow, dam’s had no turf winners thus far, and barn currently 0-for-15 at meet.

Tacoma Park (30-1) Figure jumped up to finish third behind ‘Cat’s Mood’ in Turfway finale but lacks both turf experience and pedigree.

Platinum Prince (8-1) both lifetime wins this surface and distance and goes first time off Tomlinson claim, profitable coming back with this type of freshening.

Moon River (20-1) Lone lifetime win came in state-bred Maryland stakes over surface and trip. Just missed wit wide trip in GP finale and picks up Paco here. Really turned heads with 46 1/5, fastest work of week at KEE.


Pack Istan (20-1) finished evenly when third in 6F in debut over TP Synth. Likely to benefit for barn doing well with limited chances but draws pole. Unknown quantity; guesswork.

Lady Soul (5-2)
raced head to head throughout debut as favorite going 6F at GP for Todd/Johnny team. Three very solid works over deeper PBD since; added furlong a plus.

Final Decision (20-1) raced mid-pack and tired when 31-1 in OP debut; live rider switch to Geroux, however. Curious.

Sweet Legacy (20-1)
is from mare who’s only other foal won and has been in steady training at deeper Payson. Distance suits but Rusty, profitable with Landeros, is 1 for last 71 first-timers.

Hang On Annie (6-1) stayed fairly well for third going a mile in TP Synth. McPeek 17% effective with turnbacks and reaches out for Gary Stevens; intriguing.

Linda (8-1) came from the clouds following poor start in 6F Tampa debut, beaten only 4-1/2 lengths. Wilkes, profitable with first Lasix and second-time starters, switches to Julien. Best value on early line.

Ma Can Do It (2-1) made mid-race move before tiring going two-turns in OP season’s debut. Third in G1 Alcibiades at 2 and Romans also-rans often improve dramatically next out.

Dear Elaine (4-1) showed improvement in second start with Lasix in 2YO finale, earning top Pricci Energy Rating. LoPresti having profitable 2016 and is 17% efficient with layups of 90 days +. Three-year-old maturity and barn profitable with Lanerie; very sharp 47 KEE work.

Talkless Smilemore (10-1) comes off consecutive bullet works at CD and has conditioning on the turnback, but form has declined and loses Geroux.


Da Big Hoss (7-2) has not hit the KEE board in two starts but has won half his 4 lifetime starts at marathon trip. Earns excellent PERs and two-time G3 retains Geroux.

Up With The Birds (3-1)
is winless since July 2014 but was second in G1 Canadian International in October and Motion 21% profitable with 90 days + layoffs and in graded stakes. Placed in one of two on this course and (3) 1-1-0 at this trip; fastest on best go.

A Red Tie Day (20-1) ships in from SA for Baltas with switch to Stevens after beating cheaper in last—his third of four turf starts--and owns five subsequent works and is well bred for marathon debut; interesting price shot.

Idolo Porteno (12-1) was twice a turf winner in South America, tuned up with top Energy Rating in G3 Razorback on OP dirt and Correas/Paco team 2-for-2 this meet--15-1 winner Wednesday. Live price shot.

Royal Albert Hall (15-1)
ships in for O’Neill reuniting with Prat and comes off sharp 10F score. Late developing 4YO gelding is stoutly bred for the trip.

Twilight Eclipse
was narrowly beaten in G1 Turf Classic last fall BEL and is a worthy (12) 2-2-5 in turf marathons but raced dully in season’s debut at GP, a course he usually likes; mixed signals.

Kaigun (5-2) finally broke through to win G2 Pan Am last out following four consecutive seconds; (4) 1-2-0 at the trip; in career form and getting along nicely with Bravo.

St. Albans Boy (15-1)
finished well too late following wide trip in Kaigun’s Pan Am (see replay); third in G3 Sycamore here last fall; Rubley, switching to Graham, profitable with ship-ins.


Brilliant Belle (2-1) was a good second for $50,000 two back at OP, raced very wide from extreme outside subsequently now down two classes for Cox, a 33% angle. Single potential.

Bettyng On Lucy (10-1)
gets trainer change to McKeever going turf to dirt following even 5th in FG turf sprint; tries dirt in second start switching to Graham and pedigree wants today’s added trip.

Only One Wish (7-2) goes turf to dirt dropping to career low level turning back off turf route for Sharp with Brian Hernandez on a return call.

Ladybug's Holiday (12-1) has nature—17% debut sire, dam’s thrown eight winners—but not nurture; Pessin 0 for last 21 newcomers. Gets Geroux, however; mixed signals.

Uno Cita (20-1) has been beaten 52 lengths total in four lifetime starts at 21, 31, 17 and 29-1, respectively.

Court The Storm (8-1) has had 12 chances to no avail, including last five vs. claimers at Turfway, but is second off a layup for Pinzon, a profitable 21% in that scenario.

City Beauty (5-1)
was beaten 16 lengths vs. $50,000 claimers in KEE debut; returns in a week with a significant drop. Wakeup potential.

Gift Of Sense (5-1)
five year old maiden returns off May 29 layoff and has done her best racing going longer.

Pour Girl (12-1) dropped into claimer in TP finale and showed some improved early speed; winless newly turned trainer makes KEE debut. Exits key race: two winners.

Valida(30-1) goes from Ben Colebrook to 8% trainer while moving up in class and turning back with quicker; note he worked crisply at KEE back in February.

See Saturday's Feature Race Analysis for selections via promotional arrangement with

Written by John Pricci

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Friday, April 15, 2016

And Then There was One WEEKEND PREVIEW APRIL 15, 2016

Exclusively for

Or there are two preps, depending on how you view Saturday’s Lexington Stakes at Keeneland.

And, so, on the Saturday after New Year’s Day, Aqueduct’s Jerome Stakes began the long and winding road to Louisville.

This weekend, Oaklawn Park’s Arkansas Derby, scheduled to run an hour after the Keeneland three-year-old fixture, concludes the final and 24th part of the 2016 Kentucky Derby prep puzzle.

Here’s a handicapping look-in at the two aforementioned preps along with the Plenty of Grace turf mile for three-year-old fillies at Aqueduct, and three more stakes from Keeneland, including the G1 Jenny Wiley. First stop, Big Apple:

Schematic includes major contenders, listed in post-position order with early line odds:



Mah Jong Madness (10-1)
likes the course and distance well enough, trainer Morrison is a profitable 18% off 90 days + layups, has tactical speed, competitive figures, an inside draw and Gryder fits those dynamics nicely. Good value at early line odds.

Strike Charmer (3-1)
won at this course and distance in the fall when fresh and repeats that pattern here; graded stakes winner and graded placed, she’s very well spotted here and switch to Franco fits mare’s style. Excellent Thoro-Graph and Pricci Energy ratings.

Coming Attraction (5-1) just missed in tough trip GP finale, mini-turnback helps but she does meet faster and tougher for top connections.

Harp N Halo (6-1) is 2-for-4 on turf, 1-for-1 at the trip, looked sharp winning lone winter start--legging up at Tampa--and has won going dirt to turf before. Slower than other majors but on forward looking pattern.

Mrs. McDougal (2-1) graded winner and graded placed, earned excellent figures at 3 and returns as first-time 4YO; Chad 26% efficient with 90 days+ layups and reunites with winning rider Jose Ortiz. Fast, classy and added maturity.


Creator (10-1) was a good-finish, tough-trip third in Cupid’s Rebel following blowout score taking maiden allowance in OP debut; strongly bred for added trip and Santana on return call from inside post. Highly competitive figures and looks forward.

Suddenbreakingnews (5-1)
hellish trip as Rebel fave when beaten less than five following worst-to-first bold-finish, impressive Southwest score. Bred well for added distance and owns some of field’s fastest figures; benefits from anticipated pace scenario.

American Pioneer (8-1) is light on experience and accomplishment but long on talent with competitive Thoro-Graph and Pricci Energy ratings in two top tries over strip; interesting that Bejarano ships in for the ride. Tough dynamics, however.

Unbridled Outlaw (10-1) had much improved early speed to place gamely vs. older last out--not his preferred style. Tough trip third in G3 at 2 from off the pace; change of tactics anticipated but is slower than major rivals and needs to step it up big time.

Dazzling Gem (12-1)
chased the pace outside throughout G2 Louisiana Derby, persevering gamely late after headstretch issues. Switch to speed ace Talamo and is 2-for-2 on this ground. Hurried spot in order to make the Derby?

Whitmore (9-2)
placed gamely in rapidly run Rebel following premature move after a tough trip placing from far back in prior. Improved markedly since blinkers, owns excellent figures on all scales, developing incrementally, and benefits from second-time Irad.

Cupid (2-1) was most impressive in frontrunner Rebel score, a change-of-pace after off-the-pace maiden breaker; has worked thrice since including old school seven-eighths in 1:24 3/5. Likely reverts to waiting tactics from outside slip and just might trip here.

Gettysburg (6-1)
broke maiden at today’s trip, field’s lone 9F winner, and placed gamely chasing pace throughout from wide post in Sunland Festival at same distance in last; picks up Johnny but slip #12 a killer.


Are You Kidding Me (8-1) was quite successful at Canadian G2 level last year and Attfield can get them ready off lengthy breaks. Been in training at Palm Beach Downs since January for this.

Noble Bird (7-2) has yet to regain last year’s Foster form of last but won over surface; had no chance in very-wide-throughout season’s debut, returns with subsequent 46 1/5 move from gate over today’s strip; switch to Julien augurs well for barn.

Eagle (3-1)
had rough first turn in FG finale then raced flat thereafter. Owns superior figures and returns to preferred surface (2-for-2 at KEE) and reunites with regular partner Brian Hernandez.

Neck ‘n Neck (9-2) lacks killer instinct but consistently very-hard tryer with consistency that worked well for this after legging up in 2016 debut at Tampa; just might improve for Landeros.

General a Rod (7-2) has excellent back class and figures, won his only start over course, but has not moved forward even after switch to Pletcher; gets white hot Luis Saez.

J S Bach (10-1)
is up in class and distance for Todd seeking fifth straight--have seen this movie before with these connections--and newly turned 4YO possibly interesting price play for barn 25% profitable in LAY-2 scenarios.


Miss Matzoball (3-1) seeks third straight and half her lifetime wins came at today’s trip; must prove she’s as effective here as she is at Gulfstream; reunites with Javier.

Jewel of a Cat (7-2) is a five time winner at short turf sprint distances but is another South Florida specialist. Style appears severely compromised for major share.

Miss Ella (6-1) was second in her only start to Lady Shipman under these conditions at Saratoga last summer. Fired bullet for this before leaving Palm Meadows.

Tesalina (6-1) was a good third after mid-race move down the hill at Santa Anita after opening premature lead. Turnback helps, as does recent Turfway Park bullet.

Rapid Rhythm (20-1) meets tougher but all lifetime wins under these conditions. Two-for-two for Stidham, reunites with Geroux, and worked extremely sharp half mile for this here last Sunday.


Direct Message (15-1)
jumped up with Lasix, especially second time, overcoming trouble to break maiden at 9 furlongs in GP finale. Hot Luis Saez on the re-ride; possible price and money shot.

Swipe (9-5) spent his juvenile season finishing second to Nyquist in graded stakes, including fast finish placing after early trouble in BC Juvenile. Class call and Keith Desormeaux will have him ready off the bench. Question of intent and price ante post.

Riker (6-1) exits key race in which he never threatened in Outwork’s Tampa Bay Derby. Only beaten 4 lengths in Juvenile at 2; legged up in Oldsmar and Geroux sticks. Good value at early line odds.

Collected (2-1) the in-form Baffert won G3 Sham in January dirt debut in and was authoritative winner of Sunland Festival coming into this; Bullet Bob 32% with shippers; gets Castellano.


Dacita (8-1) won G2 Ballston Spa at Saratoga last summer and had very tough trip when narrowly beaten in GP season’s debut after adding blinkers; Javier takes return call.

Recepta (12-1) exits key race, losing by a head in G1 Matriarch, her 2015 season finale. Working bullets for turf ace Jimmy Toner for 2016 debut and attracts Geroux; won here last spring.

Itsonlyactingdad (12-1) returns with good spacing for Todd, profitable with his ship-ins. She also won here off similar layup last spring, is 2-for-2 at the trip, and gets Saez.

Wekeela (6-1), Group 3 winner and Group 1 placed, makes U.S. debut for Chad (23%) with first-Lasix and is 30% profitable with new acquisitions.

Tepin (4-5) Filly turf champion comes into this after two straight scores at Tampa, now returns to scene of her biggest lifetime score, beating colts in BC Mile. What’s not to like?

Tiger Ride (30-1)
newly turned 4YO is slower and less accomplished but enters this on a good line making second start off the layup for Motion/Prado team. Breezed in 58 3/5 on Palm Meadows turf last Saturday; possible money prospects.

See Saturday's Feature Race Analysis for on-the-record selections

Written by John Pricci

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