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John Pricci

HorseRaceInsider.com 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 MSNBC.com, 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, November 23, 2012


Big Racing Weekend Gains Momentum With Friday’s Clark


MIAMI SPRINGS, November 22, 2012—Some pretty entertaining holiday fare was on tap from all over the map on Thanksgiving Day.

At Aqueduct, This Ones For Phil probably was a bit too fresh, setting rapid fractions in his first start for a long layoff. I bet him, lost, but can’t hate the horse that beat him.

In fact, every fan should tip his cap to Caixa Electronica, who just wants to beat you, anywhere from six to nine furlongs and the stops in between.

In winning the G3 Fall Highweight Handicap beneath 133 pounds and Javier Castellano, he improved his lifetime mark to (60) 19-8-11.

What’s wrong with that stat? In this day and age, horses are not supposed to run 60 races, most often in top company, even as a 7 year-old.

In April, he won the G2 Charles Town Classic at a mile and an eighth (how many turns is that, anyway?) and two months later won the G2 True North at three-quarters, coming from about a hundred lengths back.

He tried three Grade 1s after that and managed to finish second in the Vosburgh, then eliminated himself subsequently by making a right out of the Bold Ruler starting gate.

On Thanksgiving, he finally won his first race on the Aqueduct main track and pushed his earnings to nearly $1.6 million once Castellano took dead aim approaching the furlong pole. He’s an amazing race horse, a real old schooler.

At Churchill, the G2 Falls City was won the Afleeting Lady, perhaps the most underrated older mare in training. The soon-to-be six-year-old improved her lifetime mark to (20) 7-4-2 by taking the nine furlong event in emphatic style.

It was her third straight score and second consecutive in G2 company as she stalked comfortably until Joel Rosario, who made the trip to the Midwest from New York, to ride her back.

Chalk up another graded stakes in Dale Romans’ column, clearly in the midst of a career season.

You know the snow birds are filing into town when at Calder Race Course, “the Chief” got the money with a well meant dropdown and the G3 My Charmer at nine furlongs on turf turned out to be a cold Chad Brown/Chris Clement number.

Paco Lopez rode Kya One with complete confidence and timed the 4-year-old’s late run perfectly, defeating recent G3 winner Naples Bay with leading rider Luis Saez.

The Brown filly appears to have a future here, this being her second U. S. start. And it appears she can go a little farther once Brown decides to stretch her further.

Attacking the Shack

I’m as sentimental as the next horse lover but pragmatically this appears to be a good spot to try to defeat early line favorite and highlight Shackleford in Churchill’s Black Friday feature, the G1 Clark Handicap.

This is easier said than done as six of the remaining nine entrants can easily compete on the Equiform scale with the public’s 2-1 early favorite.

There are three that absolutely love the nine furlong trip: Poole Play and Cease are back at their top distance, each 4 for 7 lifetime, and Lunar Victory, a perfect 3-for-3.

Then there is Bourbon Courage and Fast Falcon coming from key races; the former trying to become the 4th winner from 10 starters out of the Indiana Derby and the latter looking to become the 3rd runner of seven to come from the Jockey Club Gold Cup successfully.

Finally, there are the half dozen that own competitive Energy Figures with the favorite at the distance, whose figures have been better going shorter this year than longer.

In this group are, from the inside out, are Pool Play (5-1), Bourbon Courage (15-1), Cease (5-1), Take Charge Indy (8-1), Mission Impazible (5-1) and Lunar Victory (6-1).

Of these, Pool Play, Mission Impazible and Lunar Victory have the best chance but it’s the latter whose surface record and recent strong blowout points the way.

Let’s not forget, too, that not only is it trainer Bill Mott’s time of year as he returns to the venue at which he has saddled more winners than any other horsemen, living or otherwise.

And know this: It’s a great event to watch and bet and will not be easily won. A speedy and safe trip to all.

Written by John Pricci

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