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, March 17, 2017

Grade 2 at Gulfstream Features Grade 1 Speed

The following handicapping sketch of Saturday's feature race at Gulfstream Park brought to you courtesy of


1 - WHEATFIELD (20-1) Pricci Rating: 99 (at 6F)
Has compiled fine lifetime slate (17) 6-4-3 but lacks experience at this trip and draws the pole while making graded stakes and GP debut; extremely tall order but rates super-exotics consideration.

PR: 92
Jerkens barn presently white hot and is profitable with repeaters and graded stakes runners—a worthy 32% in LAY-2 scenarios. Owns 2-for-3 GP slate, 1-for-9 elsewhere, and was second in two tries at the trip on this track in 2016. Worked very well—fastest of 32 peers week of Mar. 10 but this is very salty spot.

3 – DANESSA AGAIN (30-1) PR: 82
Pace presser is stuck inside vs. faster set here—difficult trip looming. Both lifetime wins came at GP and she’s 1-for-2 at the trip but needs to step up her game considerably to be taken as a serious win threat. Top connects gives her shot at fourth.

4 – MIA TORRI (8-1) PR: 89
Two-for-two since entering the Navarro barn (shocking, I know) and was second in lone start at the CT bullring last fall, her only try in graded company. Likely to be trip sitting beneath Rosario and cannot be easily dismissed despite big step up here.

5 - DEAREST (5-1) PR: 98
Seriously fast and classy sprinter is 4-for-5 on this track and undefeated in two starts at 7F. Returns with winning spacing and Zayas has won thrice aboard Midshipman 4YO. Working brilliantly at GPWest base for Zerpa—59 2/5B fastest of 23 peers that week. Barn is 25% profitable with 90-day layups. Only concern is 123 pounds.

6 - DISTINTA (10-1) PR: 91
Unlucky runnerup in last after dropping far out of early contention, finishing furiously too late to just miss. However, runnerup finishes have been her hallmark but speedy dynamics suits her, as does the switch to Johnny who will look to trip-out. Barboza career 23% profitable with all dirt runners.

7 - MOMENT OF DELIGHT (6-1) PR: 95
Last better than it looked in that she was forced to rush up from the pole to avoid potential speed jam, winning the White Pearl 7F prep for this. Attracts Paco, is capable of stalking from close range, and gets a couple of pounds from the faves. She’s 5-for-14 here, 1-for-6 anywhere else.

8 – CURLIN’S APPROVAL (3-5) PR: 99
The proven class, she shoulders co-highweight seeking consecutive G2s and already is a multiple graded winner. Has conditioning on the cutback--might even be a better one-turn miler type--but returns with relatively short best turning back with faster rivals in intended LaTroienne prep.

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

Written by John Pricci

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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

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.

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

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.


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


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


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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