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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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Belmont 145, Put Another Way

ELMONT, NY, June 5, 2013--And so a baker's dozen, plus one, were entered in the 145th Belmont Stakes this morning and I for one didn't care that half the field is eligible for secondary allowances.

That's the price paid for the way the modern Thoroughbred is trained, and that racing's glamour divisions are populated by young horses. Put another way, "it's the money, stupid."

The draw was a pleasant exercise, no news made beyond the starting positions and Eric Donovan's morning line odds.

Put another way, "I’m more concerned about who is around me, and what they’re going to do, than what gate we got,” said the trainer who's won more Triple Crown events than anyone, Darrel Wayne Lukas.

Can I get an 'amen'?

There were a few take-aways for me from the quotes I heard: "If there isn’t [a realistic pace], and they’re going in :49 and some change," said Shug McGaughey "then [Orb] can be laying up there. I just hope he has some place to go when the time comes.” Put another way: There are a couple in here that don't belong.

"I don’t know if he’s the kind of horse that wants to be behind horses," said Tom Albertrani, "because he’s got a free-running style. He’ll probably want to find himself clear into the first turn..."

Put another way: "His best races have been on the lead and we drew the 2 hole. What choice do I have but to send him?"

Kiaran McLaughlin on Incognito: “I’m just happy there’s 14 in there and I’m one of them. I don’t have any worries about the post (#6). He’s battle-tested, so we’ll hope for the best and hope that his pedigree kicks in at the quarter pole.”

Put another way: "This is the Belmont and goofy things happen at a mile and a half. I know my horse can go this far; some of the others might need a van.

More Lukas: "Will Take Charge [had a very rough trip] in the Derby. He's a big horse, 17 hands, you can't start and stop on him, he's not very nifty. He'll be a price and you might want to use him in your supers.

Put another way: "How many times do I have to do this before you guys learn your lesson. You think the Preakness was my comeback? Wait until Saturday."

Todd Pletcher, when asked about the three Rapole starters: "We actually talked about some other horses..." smiling when he said it. Put another way: "How do you think Micromanage got his name?"

Also from Todd: "I think Palace Malice, maybe, will show some speed, so we’re happy to be outside of Freedom Child and Oxbow.” Put another way: "I'm going to run relays at them. It will be like Charlie Whittingham in the San Juan Capistrano; the race is over as soon as one of my horses is in front in the homestretch"


Orb is a deserving early line favorite at 3-1 and might not be much shorter than that at post time, thinking 5-2... Some eyebrows lifted when 8-1 was quoted on filly Unlimited Budget, the same price as Freedom Child, the blowout winner of the Peter Pan. Don't know when it all changed, but morning lines today are meant to predict how the public will bet the race.

Back in the day, linemakers gave estimates on what they believedwas the right price for each horse, a consumer advocate for bettors. But it's different--not better, just different now--and Donovan clearly weighed the filly factor heavily into the equation.

Don't know how the two will compare at post time--Freedom Child deserves to be shorter--but convinced that Unlimited Budget will be an underlay ante post.

Written by John Pricci

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