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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Wednesday, May 16, 2007


A “Perfect” Work For A Tough Test


Its Game On for Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense.

Thats the only message one can glean from his five furlong workout yesterday at Churchill Downs. Five-eighths in 1:00 was perfect, said trainer Carl Nafzger. Who can argue?

Street Sense seems to lend new meaning to the term push-button. If you need five furlongs in :58 2/5, his first speed work following the slowly run Blue Grass, he gave it to you.

If you wanted something slower Derby week, because the colt already was there, you got that, too. Five furlongs in 1:01, following a half-mile in :49 4/5, with a gallop out past the wire in :12-flat. Pluperfect.

And now another brilliant move; fast enough but not too fast. Following an opening quarter mile of :25, it was :35 seconds home for the final three furlongs. Sharp! It appears that Nafzger still has not reached bottom. Good thing for his fans, too bad for fans of his rivals.

The dynamics of the Preakness are such that this race, despite having half the number of Derby entrants, is the greater challenge. If the fates allow that he would be the first Triple Crown hero since Affirmed, this is the race that would stop him.

The Preakness should come right down to the wire. The post position draw is 4:30 p.m. today. Can't wait.


Written by John Pricci

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Circular Quay Would Make Preakness A Lot More Interesting


The news that trainer Todd Pletcher is considering running sixth-place Kentucky Derby finisher Circular Quay back in the Preakness is welcome, adding an interesting horse to the Big Three Derby runners scheduled to race back. If the colt is doing well, the decision makes good sense, too.

While not impossible, its difficult for extreme late-rally types to perform at their best over a wet-fast surface, even nimble ones like Circular Quay. While the Churchill track did benefit from the floating, then opening, procedure used to quick-dry the track by track superintendent Butch Lehr and his crew (Derby day kudos all around), greasy tracks are often hard on late runners.

Yesterday at Belmont Park, Circular Quay worked an easy half-mile in :48 2/5. Pletcher will inspect the colt today and make an entry-time decision tomorrow. The presence of Flying First Class and Hard Spun insures a very solid Preakness pace, which should help Circular Quay. What might not, however, is the chance for a wet track for the Triple Crowns middle jewel. Showers are scheduled in the Baltimore area for the days leading up to the race.

At Churchill Downs, trainer Steve Asmussen got a lung opener from Derby show finisher Curlin; a half-mile in a dawdling :51. Not looking for speed in any way, Asmussen only wanted to observe how his colt came out of the work following his strenuous Derby effort, physically and mentally. Asmussen said he was pleased on both counts.

Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense is scheduled to work this morning. Both he and Curlin will fly to Baltimore from Louisville tomorrow.


Written by John Pricci

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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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