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'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

Behind Scenes Progress in Santa Anita Boycott Dispute

As far as the Santa Anita Boycott, scheduled for Mar. 23-27, is concerned, there is good news and bad news. But it appears a mini-crisis has been averted.

The bad is that without official backing of the Horseplayers Association of North America, it is highly unlikely that a boycott would be as successful as previous actions leveled against Santa Anita and Churchill Downs in the recent past.

The boycott does have the support of enough big bettors to make a dent, at least, have some negative impact on betting handle.

The good news is that a boycott may not be necessary at all. All the elements are currently in place to correct the poor California rule with respect to the Perfect 6 jackpot carryover, which occurs in the event of one race becoming an “ALL” and there is no perfect ticket.

Jeff Platt, President of HANA, called this morning to bring HRI up to speed about how his organization has been dealing with the issue behind the scenes in the name of political expediency.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (12)
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.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)

Too early to put down this year’s Derby generation

One of many rites of spring is a premature disparaging of the latest Kentucky Derby crop.This year is no exception. I would argue we should hold off a while until we see how long McCraken and Malagacy can maintain their unbeaten records; whether Tapwrit's Tampa Bay Derby is a precursor of brilliant things to come; and if multiple stakes winner Gunnevera might be superior to all of them. Also, Arrogate's presence in the Dubai World Cup is this weekend's big event but there are three or four horses in the supporting UAE Derby who could become serious players in the Triple Crown races.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (16)
The road to Louisville goes through Tampa

Tampa Bay Downs has been evolving rapidly from Florida's other winter track into a circuit that has to be taken seriously at the highest level. It has produced a couple of Derby winners in the past decade and chances are good that the two betting favorites in this year's Derby will have come from the Sam F. Davis and Tampa Bay Derby.

In other Derby doings, Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown have the opportunity to inject some much needed star power into this year's downgraded Wood Memorial at their home citcuit.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (23)

HRI’s Kentucky Derby Super Hi-5

Timing is everything in life does not qualify as stop-the-presses advice. But it is the reason why we’re altering the format of HRI’s Triple Crown rankings. After all, it’s only seven weeks out from the Kentucky Derby.

However, since there remains an overwhelming amount of development time before anyone visits their favorite betting hub, it’s appropriate to zero in on the personal observations of our staff and at once raise questions in the process. To wit:

Is this finally the year Todd Pletcher wins Derby #2, the same year that Bob Baffert lacks a major May player? Because, right now, it doesn’t appear that the 2017 Derby winner will be shipping in from the Golden State.

Unless, of course, it’s a filly but it doesn’t look like Jerry Hollendorfer is going to leap off the Oaks bandwagon. But you would think that his next target could be, say, the Santa Anita Derby. What colt is out there to fear at present?

And nothing says that you must race in the Kentucky Derby thereafter. And a Santa Anita Derby victory could make her a Horse of the Year finalist at season’s end should she maintain her present dominatrix status.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (20)
This Game Tugs at Your Heart from Both Sides

“God help me I do love it so,” said George C. Scott as “Patton” in the 1970 Academy Award-winning eponymous film, as the legendary General surveyed the carnage remaining from the previous day’s battle.

On Saturday, simulcasters were left to their own devices to see what happened after watching Mike Smith dismount from the immensely talented, undefeated Mastery on the clubhouse turn following a tour de force romp in the San Felipe Stakes.

Fans could see Smith at the colt’s head as he awaited assistance before the camera turned away and all that remained was hearing track announcer Michael Wrona informing the crowd that Smith was removing the tack from the dark bay son of Candy Ride.

But there was one telling image from the replay taken from an inside camera where upon galloping out Mastery made a godawful lead change, awkwardly and desperately jumping over to his right lead at that point.

It turned out to be a condylar fracture of the left foreleg that will require surgery Monday for the Cheyenne Stable runner who had just won his fourth lifetime start without defeat, his third at the graded level.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (30)

It’s Horse Racing But It’s Still Rock ‘n Roll to Me

United States Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke posted a press release on his department website March 6 which announcing a lease-sale of 73-million acres of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, scheduled for August 16, 2017.

April 20th will mark the seventh anniversary of the tragic explosion and sinking of the BP Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers and spewed oil into the Gulf until it was capped nearly three months later, July 15, 2010.

The operation was declared officially or “effectively dead” two months after that on September 19.

For those interested, the lease sale will be livestreamed from New Orleans and it will be the first installment of a five-year program called the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022.

On a related note, oil will soon flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline just 150 miles from where the failed protests to stop it took place. Recall that in December, authorities discovered that 176,000 gallons of crude leaked from the Belle Fourche Pipeline into Ash Coulee Creek in North Dakota.

The lease sale in the Gulf is an invitation for both profit and potential disaster. I spoke with musician and environmental activist Tab Benoit, as far back at June 3, 2010. Benoit was in New York for a show and we talked about the BP debacle after the gig.

So, what’s all this have to do with horse racing?

Well, it was Benoit who inspired the name of a four-time Louisiana Horse of the Year champion, Star Guitar. The Star Guitar Stakes is now the lynchpin for Louisiana Champions Day for state-bred horses at the Fair Grounds each year.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (12)
Bloomberg Report Confirms Islanders-at-Belmont Exclusive

A Bloomberg News report on February 24 confirmed that the New York Islanders will play in a new arena at Belmont Park.

HorseRaceInsider’s Mark Berner reported exclusively in his “Inside New York” column of February 7 that the grounds adjacent to the racetrack would be used to build a new arena hard by the Cross Island Parkway on the Queens/Nassau County line.

Islanders' owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin, along with NY Knicks-Rangers owner James Dolan and NY Mets owner Fred Wilpon will also provide funding to build the new arena.

New York City-based hockey fans will also be able to access the new facility via an existing Long Island Railroad station.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (17)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Gulfstream Today: Sun 3/19

Wednesday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Grows to $865,950

Watch Pegasus Hero Arrogate Compete in Dubai Next Saturday

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved for the 18th consecutive program at Gulfstream Park Sunday, producing a carryover…

Mar 20 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Oaklawn Barn Notes: Rebel Stakes Update



American Anthem, Hall of Famer trainer Bob Baffert’s hopeful for the $900,000 Rebel Stakes-G2 at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, will break from post 7 in the field of 11 3-year-olds when the promising but lightly-raced colt meets…

Mar 16 | Categories: Oaklawn, |


ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) _ Shaman Ghost beat Midnight Storm by three-quarters of…

Mar 12 | Categories: Santa Anita, |

GR. I, $750,000


JAVIER CASTELLANO, SHAMAN GHOST, WINNER: “I knew there wasn’t a lot of speed in the race so I just wanted to focus on the horse on the lead, Midnight Storm, and keep track of him.…

Mar 12 | Categories: Santa Anita, |

GR. II, $400,000


MIKE SMITH, MASTERY, WINNER: Regarding Mastery, who was pulled up after the wire and taken back to the barn via horse ambulance after being evaluated by track vet, Dr. Dana Stead – “He seemed to just go off…

Mar 12 | Categories: Santa Anita, |

Battalion Runner Breezes at Palm Beach Downs for G1 Florida Derby
Sunday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Expands to $436,714

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – St. Elias Stable’s Battalion Runner, a promising 3-year-old who has yet to be tested in stakes company, continued…

Mar 12 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Gulfstream Today 3.10.17

Guaranteed Multi-Race Wager Pools Scheduled for Saturday
Rainbow 6-$600,000; Late Pick 4-$250,000; Late Pick 5-$200,000

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Saturday’s 13-race program at Gulfstream Park will feature guaranteed pools for the 20-cent Rainbow 6, the 50-cent Late…

Mar 11 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Bluegrass Envy Seeks Upset in San Felipe (G2)

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Bluegrass Envy, a 3-year-old maiden bred by the University of Kentucky, takes his show on the road Saturday when he meets winners in the $400,000 San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita Park.

Owned by Loooch Racing Stables Inc., J Stables LLC and Courtney Schneider, Bluegrass…

Mar 11 | Categories: Santa Anita, |
TSG Ultimate Betting Challenge

National Champion Arsenault Part of TSG Ultimate Betting Challenge Field

Live Money Tournament Saturday at Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita
$1 Million Bonus if Winner Goes on to Win BCBC

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Ray Arsenault, a winter resident of…

Mar 11 | Categories: Gulfstream, |


The big boys come out to play Saturday.

Among those entered at Santa Anita in five stakes—three of them Grade I’s—are Bob Baffert’s undefeated Triple Crown contender Mastery and John Shirreff’s nearly…

Mar 11 | Categories: Santa Anita, |


– After watching No Dozing breeze five furlongs at Tampa Bay Downs this morning with his wife Leigh in the irons, trainer Arnaud Delacour pronounced the 3-year-old colt a likely starter for Saturday’s Grade II, $350,000 Lambholm South Tampa…

Mar 7 | Categories: Tampa Bay Downs, |
Gulfstream News & Notes: Thu 3/2

Practical Joke Ready to Get Serious in $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2)
Made You Look Aims to Bring Turf Form to Dirt in Fountain of Youth
Watershed Set to Make Grass Debut in $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2)

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Winter vacation for Klaravich Stables…

Mar 3 | Categories: Gulfstream, |