HRI Featured Writers
HRI Featured Writers

Pricci’s Free Race Analysis

Whenever his daily work schedule permits, HorseRaceInsider executive editor John Pricci will analyze that day's feature race from a major thoroughbred-racing jurisdiction.

Executive Editor John Pricci
Executive editor John Pricci provides his insights on everything thoroughbred racing. Big horses, big races, politics, it's all here in his " Morning Line " blog and " On the Line " column


Tom Jicha
Tom has been a sports writer, columnist, and an editor at various times throughout a journalistic career that spans more than four decades. His passionate writing and reporting on thoroughbred racing can now be read in his "Ante Post" blog.


Mark Berner
Mark has been a groom, clocker, handicapper, sportswriter, columnist and editor at various times throughout a career that has spanned more than three decades. His reporting and opinions on Thoroughbred racing can now be read on HRI in his "Inside New York" blog


Indulto
Indulto's "Players Up" blog. Taking his nickname from the King Ranch color-bearer of the 1960s, Indulto now devotes his time to advocate for the recreational player and hobbyist, but prefers lower takeout rates for all rather than subsidized rebates for the few.


Robert Earle
Rob Earle is a lifelong horseman, IT whizzkid & racing fanatic, and will be bringing you some industry thoughts in his "Easy as 123Bet" blog.


John Parisella
John Parisella has enjoyed a legendary career as a "horseman's horseman." At last count, he won 27 races with 27 different horses at 27 different tracks. His observations will appear bi-weekly, Mondays and Fridays in his "Parisella At the Races" blog.


Marc Lawrence - On Sports
Marc Lawrence will be contributing his sports handicapping insights and providing college and NFL Best Bets in his " Playbook" blog.
 
 


Latest Columns and Blogs

They’re back! Cries for longer Triple Crown gaps arise again

The conventional thinking was that American Pharoah's Triple Crown would silence those who argue for longer gaps between the three races. Not so. Some respected voices in the sport are already resuscitating their contentions that three races in five weeks is not reflective of contemporary racing. All it would take is an approval from NYRA, which moved the Met Mile off Memorial Day, to set the change into motion.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (8)
Gun Runner romp reinforces greatness of Arrogate


Gun Runner re-establshed himself as the best dirt horse other than Arrogate with his business-like domination of the Stephen Foster. It only re-emphasized the gap between Arrogate and the rest of the planet.



Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (18)

Hey Dad, Have You Ever Taken Your Kid to the Races?

In the 50s, 60s and 70s, when horses still had a presence in everyday life, there was a lot more advertising about bringing dad out to the track on Father’s Day. But that’s not really the case anymore.

Back in the day, dads and uncles took their sons and nephews to the track on a Saturday, providing a fascinating wide-eyed introduction to the spectacle of Thoroughbred racing.

This, of course, was prologue. Betting off-track did not exist, neither did simulcasting, the Internet, or even cable TV as we know it today. In the minds of youngsters, the racetrack was an exciting wide-eyed spectacle of sights, sounds and colors, and it still can be.

But the advertising we see today is left to in-house invitations via a closed simulcasting loop because racing coverage, right down to entries-and-results agate, no longer exists in mainstream media, special big events notwithstanding.

Ergo, it doesn’t make sense for local racetracks to market en masse because sports fans in the main are unaware of the sport beyond the Triple Crown and in places outside of Saratoga, Del Mar and Lexington. Consequently, young people never get the message.

Racing’s omni-presence went out with high-button shoes. And what’s left to promote is no less controversial. Are we selling a grand, colorful, upscale entertainment experience, or a gambling game played with expensive animals?

New fans can be created only by their live introduction to racing’s grand spectacle. If it is meant to be, it will happen only after seeing horse racing’s unique blend of color, excitement and chance.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (21)
A Classic Day Replete with Classic Performances

Vindication comes in many forms: There’s the kind where tough luck is expunged; when an often-criticized methodology proves unjustified, and when the Belmont Stakes, sans Triple Crown drama--even without winners of the first two installments of the world’s most famous three-race series--is still The Belmont.

Bad karma was nipped in the bud Saturday at when Tapwrit atoned for the desperate nose defeat suffered by his come-backing four-year-old stablemate Destin in last year’s Belmont, suffered at the hooves of Creator.

Saturday’s clear-cut perfect trip victory surely must have been worth the additional $800,000 his connections paid for the Tapit colt, as compared to the year-older Giant’s Causeway offspring. And when form holds, so does the importance of a racing classic.

Alongside Jose Ortiz, who engineered a rail skimming ride perfectly behind the fastest horse in the field and worthy favorite, Irish War Cry, his first Classic victory, stood Todd Pletcher, the guy who supposedly is great at winning Classic preps but the races not so much.

Pletcher’s Belmont record hardly could be much better: Three wins and four second from 13 starters, all having one common thread; they ran on Derby weekend, skipped the crab cakes festival, returned to home base and either started or completed seven exactas.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (30)

Vet Record Transparency Needed Every Race Day

It was three days before the Belmont Stakes and the New York Racing Association took its show on the road, traveling 15 miles west through horrendous city traffic to Rockefeller Plaza for the post-position draw ceremonies for the Belmont Stakes, Manhattan and the Met Mile.

At the same time, the New York State Gaming Commission was releasing the veterinary reports for the horses running in those three prestigious stakes.

At the draw, Epicharis, the highly regarded and highly courted colt from Japan due to defections and the Belmont week reoccurrence of Classic Empire’s celebrated foot issues, drew post 11 for the Belmont Stakes. Less than 24 hours earlier, he was found to be lame in his right foreleg by Dr. Delott, his Belmont Park veterinarian.

Epicharis was administered a shot of Bute (phenylbutazone) intravenously the morning of the draw, would be reexamined two days later but eventually had to be scratched by Belmont’s stewards Saturday morning after his re-examination. In that case, the system worked.

But also noted in the June 7 vet report was that Gormley had received five liters of fluids having suffered mild dehydration after shipping from California to New York, and Senior Investment had acupuncture treatment and vitamin B-12 to treat muscle spasms. These are not serious issues and can be treated easily and legally, which they were.

However, a complete vet report dated June 8 for Belmont Stakes day starters included many runners with indications that inflammation was present. Twisted Tom had some, and was treated with Banamine. He also received a gastric ulcer preventative.


Written by Mark Berner | Comments (15)
When It Comes to Drug Enforcement, Politics Prevail

Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, told horseracing regulators at the recent 2017 ARCI Conference on Integrity and Equine Welfare that the United States Anti-Doping Agency should bid on future drug-testing contracts.

In other words, if the Thoroughbred industry wants to get serious about getting a trusted, outside agency to monitor the use of medication, legal and otherwise, and to what extent violations exist, that agency--in this case the USADA--must pay for the privilege?

In many of the 38 states where parimutuel wagering on horses is sanctioned, the answer to testing has been to opt for the lowest cost. In the majority of cases, the industry has gotten what it paid for.

But is this the approach racing really wants to take, hire testing labs based on the lowest-cost bids? If the industry insists on that, how seriously can we believe their goal is a truly level playing field for all?

Not only do the leaders of ARCI and racing commissions throughout the US permit drug use, the penalties it enacts against violators often are far too lenient. Unless, of course, it has political points to score or agendas to fill.


Written by Mark Berner | Comments (17)

RITVO: “…Give them a level playing field…”

LOS ANGELES, June 14, 2017--Like the sun, Tim Ritvo has been dispatched from the East by a force of nature to try and brighten Santa Anita’s prospects for survival. Santa Anita is, after all, one jewel in The Stronach Group's crown that in recent years has become tarnished.

Current COO and chief troubleshooter Ritvo has given several interviews in which the primary theme was that the property is "under-performing" relative to its value.

Prior to last weekend, Ritvo used those forums to outline potential areas for changes as to how horsemen might handle their business in order to achieve better results for all.

On Belmont Stakes Day, however, he appeared on the Roger Stein Show and said some of the things many horseplayers have been saying for years, waiting only for track operators to act on their concerns.

"The customer, the player, they're the economic engine. When they stop playing, when they stop coming, racing will cease to exist. So we need to do everything we can to give them a level playing field with the highest level of integrity, and good betting platforms or field sizes, and [friendly] wagering platforms.

“We gotta be creative and we gotta give them what they want. It comes down to supply and demand. Bottom line is there's a bunch of signals out there every single day. The tracks that do the best job will
get the handle…"

"[Takeout] definitely has to be reduced ….

Anybody who has any brains knows that you cannot churn at 20% day in and day out and still survive."



Written by Indulto | Comments (46)
Graded Stakes Committee on the Downgrade

Not only did the downgrading of two former Grade I Triple Crown preps by the American Graded Stakes Committee (AGSC) dominate discussion of their graded stakes list for 2017 this winter, it has been the talk of the industry since and diverted deserved attention away from the committee’s failure to reduce the total number of graded stakes, as was expected.

According to the group’s spokesman, Andy Schweigardt, “… the time is right to begin reducing the number of graded races in the U.S. [given] the sharp decline in the foal crop from 2007-12 and a comparable decline in the number of races held in recent years…

"These races are getting harder and harder to fill and that’s because there just aren’t the horses to fill them... So we’re going to look at the total number of Grade 1s and try to make that number commensurate with the number of horses in inventory..."

"The committee is likely to start trimming the number of Grade 1 races this year and will then seek to trim Grade 2 and Grade 3 races from the roster in subsequent years. It’s not going to happen in one fell swoop ... "’



Written by Indulto | Comments (18)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Sunday’s Super Hi 5 Carryover $82,000

Saturday’s Rainbow 6 Mandatory Payout Returns $26,000

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – A victory by longshot Mystic Sky in Saturday’s $100,000 Soldier’s Dancer at Gulfstream Park triggered a Super Hi 5 carryover Sunday of $82,263.53 and a 20-cent Rainbow 6 payout of $26,761.18.

Jun 17 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Friday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Grows to $951,476

Mandatory Rainbow 6 Payout Scheduled for Saturday
Gaffalione Continues on a Roll with Three More Winners

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved at Gulfstream Park Thursday, producing a carryover jackpot of $951,476.94 for Friday’s nine-race program.…


Jun 16 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Churchill Downs Barn Notes:  Thu 6/15

GEROUX CONFIDENT PRIOR TO RIDING GUN RUNNER
IN SATURDAY’S JAM-PACKED STEPHEN FOSTER ‘CAP PROGRAM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Thursday, June 15, 2017)
– Jockey Florent Geroux has won more than 1,100 races in his career, including three victories in the Breeders’ Cup, but Saturday’s…


Jun 16 | Categories: Churchill Downs, |
Thursday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Grows to $898,218

Earth Provides Orb with First Winner as Stallion

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Thursday’s Rainbow 6 carryover jackpot swelled to $898,218.44 when the popular multi-race wager went unsolved for the 32nd consecutive program at Gulfstream Park Sunday.

Multiple tickets…


Jun 12 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Sunday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Rises to $640,989

Miguel Vasquez Celebrates Big Day with Three Wins

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 carryover jackpot for Sunday’s program at Gulfstream Park swelled to $640,989.57 when the popular multi-race wager went unsolved for the 26th consecutive card Saturday.



Jun 3 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Saturday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Grows to $593,898

First-Race Post Time 12:55 P.M. for 12-Race Program
Gaffalione Continues Hot Hand with Three More Winners
Concealedwithakiss Back on Track in Ana T. Handicap

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 carryover jackpot rose to $593,898.06 for Saturday’s program…


Jun 2 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN - FRIDAY, JUNE 2, 2017

• · TO THE VICTOR GOES THE STRATEGY IN THE BEHOLDER
• · BAL A BALI AND SMITH READY FOR GRADE I SHOEMAKER
• · JOCKEY DAVID FLORES RETURNS HOME TO SANTA ANITA

STELLAR WIND PRIMED, TACTICS UP TO ESPINOZA

The countdown is on in earnest for Saturday’s…


Jun 2 | Categories: Santa Anita, |
Friday Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Swells to $556,054

First-Race Post Set for 2:15 P.M. for First Twilight Card
Red-Hot Tyler Gaffalione Notches Four-Win Day

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved for the 24rd consecutive program at Gulfstream Park Thursday, leaving a carryover jackpot of $556,054 for…


Jun 2 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
GRADE I, $500,000 GOLD CUP AT SANTA ANITA

COMEBACK CUPID MUCH BEST IN GRADE I, $500,000 GOLD CUP AT SANTA ANITA; BAFFERT & BEJARANO TEAM FOR 3 ¼ LENGTH WIN AS TAPIT COLT GETS 1 ¼ MILES IN RAPID 2:00.89

ARCADIA, Calif. (May 27, 2017)—
Idle since Sept. 24, Bob Baffert’s Cupid was plenty fit Saturday as he rolled to a convincing…


May 28 | Categories: Santa Anita, |
GRADE I, $300,000 GAMELY STAKES

CLASSY LADY ELI HOLDS OFF GOODYEARFORROSES TO WIN GRADE I, $300,000 GAMELY STAKES BY A HALF LENGTH UNDER ORTIZ, JR.; TRAINED BY BROWN, SHE GETS 1 1/8 MILES ON TURF IN 1:45.29

ARCADIA, Calif. (May 27, 2017)—
A tracking second throughout, classy Lady Eli overhauled pacesetter Avenge…


May 28 | Categories: Santa Anita, |
Keeneland Race track Schedule 2017

Keeneland is both a racecourse with a thoroughbred horse-racing facility, sales complex and reference library. It is operated by the Keeneland Association Inc., a company built and opened in 1936 in Lexington, Kentucky. One might know it as a National Historic Landmark, dubbed by the Horseplayer association…


May 24 | Categories: Keeneland, | Comments (0)
Preakness News and Notes: 05.18.2017

Always Dreaming ‘Sitting on Go’ for Saturday’s Preakness
Classic Empire ‘Focused and Happy’ for Morning Gallop
Conquest Mo Money Changing Trainer’s Life

BALTIMORE – After training Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Always Dreaming early Thursday morning,…


May 18 | Categories: Preakness Stakes, |