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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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Sunday, December 16, 2012


Promising Young Runners from Coast to Coast


SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, December 15, 2012—If the results of Saturday’s Hollywood Turf Cup is a true bill, then an already talented and deep turf division just gained another member.

Going into the Grade 2 mile and a half three-turner, the somewhat surprisingly strong favorite Grandeur could not match up with several of his marathon rivals. Ultimately, however, none could match his electric turn of foot.

What makes this guy ready for prime time is the fact that he was a 3-year-old gelding taking on his elders in his first start for Patrick Gallagher. That indicates tremendous upside, especially considering it was his first start at the trip and altered horses improve with age.

Veering in a bit greenly soon after entering the stretch, when he was straightened away by Garrett Gomez, the dance was over. It was his second excellent effort over the Hollywood turf.

If Grandeur handles the course across town as well, Little Mike and Point Of Entry had better watch their backs when the real running begins turning for home.

Just when you thought that Jerry Hollendorfer would win yet another graded stakes, or that Bob Baffert was going to win the CashCall because he had the mile and a sixteenth surrounded, Todd Pletcher decided to send his Nashua winning Violence out West looking for Grade 1 glory and the winner’s share of a $750,000 pot.

You guessed it.

Todd Pletcher found himself in familiar territory, the winner’s circle, as Violence rallied strongly into contention gifted with a very hotly contested pace, tipped out into the clear beneath Javier Castellano, and ran down the speedy Hollendorfer trainee, Fury Kapcori, to win going away.

When Pletcher arrived in Florida a fortnight ago, he already had saddled close to sixty juvenile winners, winning with one of every three starters in that division. It’s one thing to have an opportunity to train the best prospects; it’s another to deliver.

And so neither shipping nor two turns nor Cushion track keep the trainer from his appointed rounds, adding another major prospect to his soon-to-be 3-year-old arsenal.

Meanwhile, back at Gulfstream, when he seeks his 10th consecutive training title, his 2-year-old turf runner Charming Kitten came up a half-length short of catching Mystic Love, deftly ridden by Elvis Trujillo to upset the Dania Beach Stakes at 16-1.

The winner was saddled by Jessica Campitelli, who made the most of her limited opportunities at the last Gulfstream meet and got off on the good foot again this season.

Considering it was her first two-turn try, and her first vs. males, Mystic Love figures to make her presence felt again and the young meet. Why males?

“It was more that we really didn’t want to go a mile and a sixteenth for her first time going two turns,’ said Campitelli. “So we chose to run against the boys.” But it may be a while before she meets males again.

“We’ll go in the next filly race because that’s also a mile, so it’ll work out good,” said trainer husband Francis. That would be the Sweetest Chant, January 27.

Written by John Pricci

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