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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Sunday, November 04, 2018

Through the Breeders’ Cup Looking Glass: Horses & Races to Watch

PART 1: Future Stars Friday:

Said it before and will re-state: Love the new Friday concept since the future is what this game’s always been about: This year’s juveniles are next year’s Classicists.

A preview of the preview began in the Street Sense, the race before the Juvenile Turf Sprint. The embarrassment of 2-year-old riches continued for Mr. Baffert: Improbable is a stone runner and young Drayden Van Dyke has broken through in a big way…

On Tuesday, we’ll look at the aesthetics of Breeders’ Cup, handle business, live attendance, venues and the controversial Eclipse issues in several categories. But while the action is still fresh…


As the schedule would have it, Baffert and Todd Pletcher go back-to-back. Credit the trainer who knew what he had, debuting Bulletin is a listed Gulfstream Park stakes in debut, which he won with authority.

On Friday, he made the start look bad as Javier—he has achieved one-name status—caught a flyer and the colt did the rest, powering away through the lane as clearly best over the filly Chelsea Cloisters who was ultra-good in defeat.

So Perfect finished with decided interest on the best part of the “good” course—the 3-to-4 path while another O’Brien trainee finished gamely inside; Sergei Prokofiev raced better than it looks on paper. Favorite Soldier’s Call was eliminate at the break; slow 2-3 lengths at start, steadied hard between shortly thereafter.

JUVENILE FILLIES TURF: Extremely R-eli-able

I hate it when in the rush to storylines, hyperbole becomes normalized. In the case of Newspaperofrecord not only will we admit it was justified but, just possibly, at this stage, Chad Brown-trained filly might be ahead of Lady Eli developmentally. It’s Sunday morning and Irad Ortiz has yet to let the undefeated filly run.

East finished strongly in the 6-path to snatch second in the final strides as Stellar Agent was an extremely good third rallying in the slowest, part of the wet course inside. Ortiz was also Lady Eli’s partner, a 2-3/4 length winner of the JFT but, for the record, this miss won hers by 6-3/4s, wow!

Words of wisdom on naming filly from owner Seth Klarman, via Bloodhorse Editor Alicia Wincze Hughes Twitter feed, for those still interested in learning tribe-free: "I think this is an important time for journalism....we believe in searching out facts and that society needs to get back to facts and truth.”


In another year, and extremely likely now, Jaywalk’s totally comprehensive victory, coupled with her Grade 1 Frizette, her fourth straight win since adding Lasix, will earn a much deserved Eclipse. Talent-wise, however, is she Newspaperofrecord’s equal? Let the first Breeders’ Cup Eclipse debate begin.

The very talented runnerup, Restless Rider, will live to fight another day while show finisher Vibrance—on a rail that did not appear the fastest part of the drying dirt surface—ran an excellent race, giving way only in the final few strides.

JUVENILE TURF: Made in Great Britain

With William Buick driving furiously and timing his late move precisely, Line of Duty was very stout in the late stages for a victory that was more impressive than a chart might indicate. Buick saved ground, edged out for room midturn, wisely waited to angle 5-wide in the straightaway then powered home.

Uncle Benny stretched out nicely from sprints, as his pedigree indicated he would, a good, very well ridden 2nd beneath Irad. Show finishing pressed throughout pacesetter Somelikeithotbrown, ran too good to lose, narrowly beaten for it all.

The only quizzical moment was why the steward’s took so long to decide on a possible disqualification. The first two horses came together late--more of a brush than a bump—the outside coming in under right-handled pressure with the inside runner coming out first, under a left hand. More dramatic “thoroughness” than was called for in this spot.

JUVENILE WINNER “Would Not Get Beat”

That’s what trainer Baffert told anyone who would listen pre-race and Rosario took the words to heat, riding Game Winner in much-the-best fashion. Racing four to five wide at every stage, the undefeated three-time G1 winner would not be denied, once again lengthening stride as the wire approached.

Runnerup Knicks Go apparently in no fluke. He cashed the pace of the disappointing Complexity throughout, took command at headstretch and battled the winner until inside the final sixteenth. Longshot Signalman finished best of all—third—and galloped out in front before reaching mid-clubhouse turn in a promising performance.

The win gave Rosario—who would also take the curtain-closing Marathon with Rocketry—the very-early favorites for both the Derby and Oaks. Of Baffert’s four Juvenile victories, a healthy Game Winner would be the first to run back in the ensuing Kentucky Derby.

SATURDAY: Stay tuned

Written by John Pricci

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