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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, May 13, 2007


Godolphin Should Challenge Sprint Division’s Best With Songster


In case Discreet Cat doesnt return to America to point for the sprint championship, the Dubai royal family could have another able representative. Anyone who witnessed yesterdays Grade 3 Bold Ruler at Belmont Park might make that same assessment.

The four-year-old Songster completely dominated the six-furlong sprint with his speed. Despite being shadowed by last years True North Stakes winner, Anew, for more than half the race, Songster simply slipped into another gear and blew the race open before reaching midstretch.

After being chased through early splits of :21.77 and :44.19, Songster drew off before reaching the wire on his own courage while only being shown the whip by regular rider Edgar Prado. The final time was a worthy 1:08.80 for the open-lengths victory. The improved Dashboard Drummer loomed a brief threat, but never seriously menaced the winner.

Assistant trainer Rick Mettee indicated the colt would run next in either the G2 True North on the Belmont Stakes undercard or the Tom Fool July 4th. The connections covet a Grade 1 victory for the future stud horse. Why not be a little more sporting and try to win that Grade 1 on Breeders Cup day at Monmouth Park?


Written by John Pricci

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Saturday, May 12, 2007


There’s Life Beyond The Kentucky Derby


Lost this week in the afterglow of Kentucky Derby 133 was a workout by a truly great horse, defending Horse of the Year champion Invasor. It was his first timed move since he returned to Belmont Park after winning the Dubai World Cup in March.

The half-mile work wasnt much, a half-mile in :50.84 termed breezing, on Wednesday, but it didnt need to be. Invasor gets a lot from his gallops and doesnt need strenuous work according to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Hell work several more times, although not every week, until his New York return on June 30 at Belmont Park.

* * *

It may be hard to believe but Todd Pletcher has run only one horse in the Preakness. Hell have his second next Saturday when he starts King of the Roxy, second to Tiago in the Santa Anita Derby last time out. The colt will have his final breeze at Belmont today or tomorrow.

While no plans have been made as to when Pletchers five Derby starters will race next, there is a chance that his impressive Oaks-winning filly, Rags to Riches, might make her debut vs. males in the Belmont Stakes. Pletcher will first go to school on next weeks Preakness before deciding on a Belmont start for the stables star three-year-old.


Written by John Pricci

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Thursday, May 10, 2007


Lukas And Zito Even Money To Join Classics Chase In Baltimore


For the first time in two decades, no Bob Baffert, no Wayne Lukas and no Nick Zito in the Kentucky Derby. So you thought maybe that trend would continue? Cmon!

The two Hall of Famers in the trio are going to the Preakness. Lukas is being a bit coy about whether he will run Flying First Class or Starbase. Zito wont say for sure either until C P West works again next Monday.

Its even-money that both will be dining on crab cakes at some point next week.

The proposition as to which Lukas colt was probably settled Tuesday. Five furlongs in :58 3/5 at Churchill Downs makes Flying First Class odds-on to start in Baltimore.

The Derby Trial winner is faster than his stablemate, owns the tactical style suited for Pimlico and figures to sit a trip in behind speedsters Hard Spun and Teuflesberg. In a perfect Lukas world, thats how youd draw it up.

For Starbase, it could be the Peter Pan and Belmont Stakes thats in the back of his mind. Interesting to see how this plays out.

C P West has been a bit of a disappointment for Zito. Not unlike Nobiz Like Shobiz, he has not developed significantly from his two-year-old season. His Withers placing was good but should have been better. But he, too, has Preakness style, only from a little farther back off the pace .

It will be a tall order for either horse to threaten the Derby colts. They are just a little too good, a little to battle tested. But this is horse racing and both horsemen have been there before. Hey, the more the merrier, though the field is limited to 14 starters and one starting gate.


Written by John Pricci

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