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, March 10, 2017


Will Power Alert Three-Peat in Silks Run?


A handicapping sketch of Saturday's turf-sprint feature at Gulfstream Park, courtesy of Tote Busters at http://www.JohnPricci.com

RACE 12: SILKS RUN STAKES 4 & UP 5 Furlongs (TURF)

1 – BEANTOWN SAINT (20-1) PR: 79
While a four-time winner at the trip, he’s failed to hit the board in two GP appearances and was trounced the only time he’s faced Power Alert and Canadian Flyer, two of remaining 10 rivals he meets here.

2 – ****POWER ALERT (7-5) PR: 92
An eight-time winner at the distance and perfect in five starts on this course, he regressed and still won his last from post 11 after being taken out of his game. Seeks Silks Run three-peat.

3 – ***CONQUEST TSUNAMI (10-1) PR: 85 (?)
Just missed following very tough try when beaten going 6-1/2F at WO two back then returned with blowout win on AW subsequently. Admittedly, this is a different ballgame but has tactical speed, late kick and a cozy inside draw. Working fast since mid-January; first-time gelding live in this spot.

4 – *GORGEOUS BIRD (20-1) PR: 68 (?)
Working lights out for turf debut making his second start off a layup but this is very salty speed spot and dam’s four starters have yet to win on turf.

5 – ***CANADIAN FLYER (8-1) PR: 83
Laudably versatile 5YO can beat you a number of different ways, is nicely drawn for position, assuming clean break, earned top PR last out, has won at the trip, twice over this ground, and working bullets at PAY base. Also gets four pounds from the choice. Upset player.

6 – ***PAY ANY PRICE (6-1) PR: 89
Not many speedsters that can lay down 20 4/5 and 43-flat and live to tell the tale, but he wound up beaten a mere length by Power Alert last time. Gelded 7YO also gets four pounds and has four wins on this course and at this trip.

7 – **MONGOLIAN SATURDAY (8-1) PR: 82
Returned to win belated 6YO debut at KEE, a course he loves, last October, then was out-quicked in BC Turf Sprint at SA. Appeared lifeless in GP return vs. Power Alert last month. Highly likely to improve but likely it won’t be enough to break through all the way.

8 – ***SUPER SPENDER (8-1) PR: 79
After winning restricted stakes here, made dull try at TAM before returning to GP, beaten 1-1/2 lengths by today’s favorite following horrific trip but finishing like a wild horse. Six-time winner at the trip and four-time winner on this lawn. Cleaner break—sharp 48 4/5 gate-breeze on 3/3--should provide position.

9 - MOONWALKER (20-1) PR: 73
Gelded 6YO is a hard tryer that usually finishes close-up, albeit with weaker. Too many seconds and third on his card for our liking, not to mention today’s significant class rise.

10 – EXTRAVAGENT KID (30-1) PR: (?)
While Milt Wolfson is a worthy 24% profitable with this type of spacing, his charge winless in three tries over the course and in four starts at today’s trip.

11 – CHIA GHOST (20-1) PR: 77
Gelded 5YO has really come into his own this year, showing laudable late kick to defeat weaker in his last two. But therein lies the rub; he beat much softer on those occasions and draw does him no favors.

For on-the record selections, see Saturday's Feature Race Analysis


Written by John Pricci

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Friday, March 03, 2017


Fountain of Youth, A Handicapping Sketch +


Below is an example of the lynchpin of our Late Pick 4 Tote Busters© analysis available at http://www.JohnPricci.com

A Legend describing how to best use the information and ratings therein is available there as well.

And below that, is an example of a new product we’re launching in April called 10-1 or Bettor©. In it are contained live price shots from three major tracks each Saturday.

As explained to our clients, percentage-wise these horse will most often finish third or fourth, not first or second. All price shots listed are rated at 10-1 or better on published morning line.

Included is the explanation to the clients assessing the results.


RACE 13: G2 FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH 3YO 1-1/16 MILES

1 – HURACAN AMERICO (50-1) PR: NA
Makes U.S. debut for outfit that did well in one of these spots previously after shipping up from South America. Won Peruvian Grade 1 going 12 furlongs as a juvenile and goes first Lasix. A complete guess for what would be an upset of the highest order.

2 - ***GUNNEVERA (7-2) PR: 78

Middle-moved as moderate Holy Bull pace was heating up then was forced to break stride on turn before finishing well too late without threatening the leader. Has improved greatly at two turns, winning Delta Jackpot before Grade 2 3YO debut. Gets better setup here, worked crisply since, and retains Castellano.

3 - QUINIENTOS (50-1) PR: 55
Chased the pace in restricted stakes then finished one-paced in first start going a flat mile after breaking maiden in sprint prior Dec. 14. Overly ambitious placement

4 – **TALK LOGISTICS (20-1) PR: 68

Was a good late-finish third to Sonic Mule in Mucho Macho Man then had little choice but to force the pace from the outside in Holy Bull, tiring after being taken out of his best game. Like Gunnevera, gets more favorable dynamics and switch to Bravo signals desired late-run tactics. Super-exotics at a price?

5 - *BEASLEY (6-1) PR: 82
Was an excellent second after setting pressured pace prior to game placing behind top prospect Battalion Runner Feb 3rd. Bullet half-mile was 3rd fastest of 98 last week. All four sibs are winners, including one SW, and switch to patient Irad suggests rating today. Talented but better suited to Tampa Bay Derby.

6 – ***PRACTICAL JOKE (3-1) PR: 78
Touting himself to Chad as he’s been working extremely well for two months. A dual Grade 1 winner at 2 prior to very good, tough-trip third in key race BC Juvenile, his two-turn debut. Chad 27% effective with this spacing and reunites with Jose Ortiz, 2-for-2 on this colt. Talented, hits hard, versatile enough and well-drawn.

7 – **THREE RULES (12-1) PR: 71
Coming up to this off excellent placing in G2 7F Swale and did win at today’s trip by 10 as a juvenile, albeit against far lesser than he meets here. Has trained very well since the Swale and gets rider switch to Saez, who will fit him much better than previous rider. May take the starch out of pace-pressers here.

8 – ****IRISH WAR CRY (5-2) PR: 96
High quality colt can go to head of the Derby class should he extend unbeaten slate to four straight. Classy, well-bred Holy Bull winner has continued to impress in a.m. gallops and recent easy breeze, and can beat you in a number of different ways. Likely to pass what will be toughest test of his career.

9 – *MADE YOU LOOK (10-1) PR: 68 [turf]

Very ambitious spot to make first dirt start but multiple graded stakes winner on grass has no shortage of ability and Pletcher doesn’t make aggressive moves capriciously. Extremely sharp half-mile blowout at deepish PBD base, fastest of 51 peers for the week a likely convincer to try this. Loses Castellano but gets Johnny.

10 - *TAKAFUL (12-1) PR: 79
Very unusual spot McLaughlin chooses for speedster with run-off tendencies to make 3YO debut. Looms the speed of the speed and his last on sealed muddy track a total throw-out. Paco likely to have no choice but to hustle from outside post, either dueling, stalking or establishing a clear lead. Recent 59 4/5B fastest of 33 peers week of 2/25. Fountain of Youth wildcard.

11 – **LOOKIN FOR EIGHT (20-1) PR: 72
Was purchased privately by high profile connections and given over to high profile Casse barn following strongly run maiden win at 7F, which produced two next-out winners, following prior game placing to Battalion Runner in debut, also at 7 furlongs. Bred both sides for stretchout, Julien knows him already but the draw is compromising.

*************************

Results from Saturday’s 10-1 or Bettor FEB 25, 2017


Aqueduct

R3: Cloud Control (12-1) 4th @ 10-1

Fair Grounds

R1: Toughjudgment (10-1) out @ 9-1
R6: Xocoyotzin (12-1) 3rd @ 11-1
R8: Rise Up (10-1) out @ 10-1
R11: Untrapped (10-1) 2nd @ 8-1

Gulfstream

R2: Valid Wildfire (12-1) out @ 27-1
R7: Twotimingdancer (15-1) 3rd @ 28-1
R8: Morichai (15-1) 4th @ 8-1 -- Hy Quality Prince (12-1) out @ 14-1
R9: Brown Almighty (10-1) SCRATCH
R10: Hockey School (12-1) 3rd @ 14-1
R11: Fields of Song (15-1) 3rd @ 20-1
R13: Schweets (10-1) out @ 18-1

Please Note: As we stated in our introduction, these horses are much better percentage plays as “in the money” finishers, although some can win or place, of course.

When considering price shots, personally, I handicap the races, identify the strong contenders, key the horse I like to win or place—depending on whether there are other live “win keys” present--and use the price shots accordingly.

My style is to “weigh” the plays according to my best opinion. When I look at horses as would-be in the money keys, I use the price shot to complete the exacta with the “win horse,” a 50-Cent TRI with ALL for second and the price shot for third, and 10-Cent SUPERS taking the win key, with ALL, with ALL, with the price shot fourth.

I try to put myself in a position to make a score with the smallest investment possible. If you are a major player, simply make multiple combinations.

I find that whether you’re a casual fan or a serious bettor, the mindset is to play the long game and not for the short haul. Admittedly, this is easier said than done.

Further, don’t be too dogmatic about closing odds. If a horse is 8-1 or so, I wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand. Whatever the price turns out to be, if the odds do not represent fair value relative to the merits, the play is to PASS.”


For on-the record selections, see Saturday's Feature Race Analysis

Written by John Pricci

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Friday, February 17, 2017


A Handicapping Look-In on Saturday’s White Pearl at Gulfstream


A look at Saturday's Late Pick 4 feature race as it appears without the star ratings. If interested in more, as well as an analysis of the other three races comprising the P4 sequence, information is available at JohnPricci.com

RACE 11: WHITE PEARL STAKES F & M 4 & UP 7 Furlongs


1 - MOMENT OF DELIGHT (6-1) PR: 93
Was a good third mid-moving into strong pace in quickly run Sunshine Millions Sprint going 6F Jan 21. Best Pricci Rating earned at this trip and track lover is (13) 4-3-1 here, 1-for-6 everywhere else. Might try shaking loose from pole on the stretchout assuming alert break beneath Saez.

2 – MINES AND MAGIC (4-1) PR: 94
Makes GP debut at a trip she likes (2) 1-1-0 while making first start after winning the Dogwood in her Churchill finale last fall. Well spotted at this grade and has been working well at deepish Payson, but barn not particularly known for prowess with returnees. Very tricky call.

3 - SAVINGTIME (20-1) PR: 86
Was a much improved second in second start off the layup vs. weaker last time now stretches to preferred trip for low-profile connections. All three lifetime wins have come on this oval. Superfecta player?

4 - JULERETTE (15-1) PR: 86
Benefitted from patient handling from Bravo to win last, her GP debut, following good-figure third at same-distance prior. Five furlong breeze was 2nd fastest of 47 peers the week of Feb 11 and exits a key race that produced 2 winners from 4 subsequent starters. Price shot at early line odds.

5 – BODACIOUS BABE (6-1) PR: 87
Set pressured pace throughout G3 Hurricane Bertie following troubled start after winning restricted Margate previously, returning from brief freshening. Lightly raced 4YO has some promise, winning at the trip and over this track. Reunites with winning rider Juarez for Cibelli, profitable in non-graded stakes.

6 – MY AWESOME MOM (12-1) PR: 78
A winner at the trip but no match for Bodacious Babe in the Margate before coming back with another even third. Dave Kassen effective enough turning back from route to sprint but these appear too quick for her. Has money prospects.

7 - DISTINTA (5-1) PR: 89
Two of her three lifetime wins have come at this distance and she was a willing, albeit one-paced third in G3 ‘Bertie’. Barboza 30% effective in LAY-3 scenarios and also 21% profitable overall since 2016. Regular partner Zayas sticks. Fits dynamics and is nicely posted, a player.

8 – FUSAICHI RED (6-1) PR: 82

Makes first start for Jimmy Jerkens, a profitable scenario, and is getting some class relief here. Gets Paco, too, but is winless in three starts on this oval. Recent 5F breeze in 2nd fastest of 32 peers week of Feb 12. Getting mixed signals.

9 – SOPHIA’S SONG (3-1) PR: 88
Hasn’t started since G2 Ravens Run after just missing when third in G3 Charles Town Oaks. Training steadily since Jan. 2 at PBD base, is reunited with winning partner Castellano, and won her only start on this surface. As mentioned, Todd 29% with this spacing and filly had good company work @ PBD 2/11.



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

Written by John Pricci

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