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

Chinatown in N’awlins; Enchantment in New Mexico

There might have been plenty of good mojo on the Fair Grounds’ front-side on Saturday accompanied by gris-gris at work between the fences. First, 1-5 Fair Grounds Oaks favorite Serengeti Princess bled through Lasix, ultimately putting her future in question.

Then War of Will lost his hind end several strides away from the barrier after breaking sharply and lost any chance of sweeping the Crescent City’s Road to Louisville.

The show put on by beaten G3 Southwest favorite Cutting Humor--winning his next start in the true southwest Sunday--and the hard charging Anothertwistoffate was great racing drama.

Cutting Humor, given pluperfect handling by Johnny Velazquez, sat off the hot-pace duel that cost Mucho Gusto victory, enabling the Todd Pletcher trainee to turn back a laudably classy rival.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (2)
Improbable Defeat of Baffert’s Stars Scrambles Derby Picture

It started out good like it was going to be a good day the home team when Midnight Bisou out-darted Elate to the finish of the Grade 2 Azeri and when leading trainer Steve Asmussen came right back to upset the second ranked three year old in the country in Rebel 1.

In Rebel 2, however, the SoCal speedsters showed their brilliance from and ran away from eight rivals, finishing within a nose of each other at the post. The winning margin was thisclose.

The exacta finishers in two divisions of the Grade 2 mile and a sixteenth ran well enough to be numbered among the HRI Derby Power 10, Week 4 edition.

Given the results, three questions quickly came to mind:

1) What price could you have gotten that Bob Baffert, trainer of the two top rated Kentucky Derby prospects throughout 2019, would lose both races?

2) What is a voter supposed to do had the Rebel 2 photo gone Game Winner’s way instead of Omaha Beach’s? Or even a dead heat? Does the division’s defending champion deserve to lose the top spot?

3) And just who is the leading 2019 Kentucky Derby candidate now?

Written by John Pricci | Comments (14)

It’s time the harness industry stops legal raceday meds

By Bob Pandolfo

Last week, the Stronach Group announced that all race-day medication, including Lasix, would no longer be permitted at two of its thoroughbred race tracks, Golden Gate and Santa Anita.

So I ask the question: should harness racing ban race-day meds? Harness racing legalized race-day Lasix years ago following the legalization of the drug by the thoroughbred industry. This is in North America alone. Horses don’t race on Lasix in Europe, Asia, or anywhere else, for that matter.
I think we can make a case that Lasix has not been good for harness racing. Here’s my argument against it:

| Comments (6)

Raceday Medication Banned in California Following 22nd Fatality

An Open Letter to the Racing Industry

By Belinda Stronach

What has happened at Santa Anita over the last few weeks is beyond heartbreaking. It is unacceptable to the public and, as people who deeply love horses, to everyone at The Stronach Group and Santa Anita.

The sport of horse racing is the last great sporting legacy platform to be modernized. If we expect our sport to grow for future generations, we must raise our standards.

Today, I'm announcing The Stronach Group will take the unprecedented step of declaring a zero tolerance for race day medication at Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields. These Thoroughbred racetracks will be the first in North America to follow the strict International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) standards.

We have arrived at a watershed moment. The Stronach Group has long been a strong advocate for the abolishment of race-day medication, but we will wait no longer for the industry to come together as one to institute these changes. Nor will we wait for the legislation required to undertake this paradigm shift. We are taking a stand and fully recognize just how disruptive this might be.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (1)
Sport, Centeno. Escape Possible Scandal, Injury at Tampa Bay Downs

By John Pricci

When it comes to horse racing, Twitter is the social media of choice. It’s fast, informative and engaging, everything you want to stay connected to your vocation or avocation of choice.

Too often, however, issues arise too quickly, the message is under-informed and engagement quickly goes off the rails. And given that human nature is what it is, c’mon, who doesn’t love a good “fix” yarn every now and then?

That was the case on a rainy Wednesday in Oldsmar Tampa where Daniel Centeno, perennially 1-2 in the jockey standings every year, jumped off 11-10 favorite R Baby Driver with victory assured several jumps before the finish post.

From the pan shot, it was impossible to immediately say what happened. It could have been interpreted that either R Baby Driver swerved and Centeno performed an unintended flying dismount or something sinister had just happened.

In the moment, this too was my reaction.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (3)

Thoroughbred Deaths and the Enemy Within

By Mark Berner

ELMONT, MAR 5, 2019--A protest scheduled for last weekend at Santa Anita Park, where 20 horses died in racing or training related incidents since its prime meet began DEC 26, was canceled by the organization that urged this call to action--People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, aka PETA.

PETA has “no problem with the racetrack,” said Kathy Guillermo, Senior Vice President, Investigative, Legal & Corporate Cases Media Office and a 30-year veteran of the organization. “PETA’s problem is with the trainers and medication.”

Of greater significance, those tethered to the sport should know this: “The goal of abolishing racing has been removed from the organization's mission statement and website,” Guillermo indicated.

On Sunday, Santa Anita cancelled Thursday’s racing, five days in advance due to impending stormy weather. Nearly a foot of rain has fallen in SoCal over the past two months. The track plans an 11-race card when it resumes racing Friday.

With PETA watching, The Stronach Group apparently decided to err in favor of caution.

A feared protagonist, it should be noted that PETA did not even have a racing agenda until Eight Belles broke down after finishing second to Big Brown in the 2008 Kentucky Derby.

The organization’s new mission seems to be that horseracing should clean its own house. As Walt Kelly parodied Commodore Perry in Pogo, “We have met the enemy and it is us." Guillermo agrees: “Horseracing is its own worst enemy.”

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (43)
Durkin, He Wrote the Songs

By Mark Berner

In 1983, Devil's Bag was the undefeated 2-year-old champion for the Hickory Tree Stable of James and Alice Mills. Woody Stephens trained the colt. Inducted into the National Museum’s Hall of Fame in 1976, Stephens was rewriting history with five straight Belmont Stakes wins in the 1980’s.

With a run that culminated in two Grade 1 victories, Devil's Bag won Belmont Park's Champagne Stakes and The Laurel Futurity, the traditional East-coast route to the two-year-old champion. The following year the Breeders' Cup would change everything.

Bred by Canadian E. P. Taylor at his Windfield Farms in Maryland, the colt by Halo from Ballade was syndicated for a record-setting $36 million for a juvenile by Seth Hancock's Claiborne Farm. Time Magazine touted colt as the next Secretariat.

Devil's Bag had right connections and all the Triple Crown hype going into Hialeah Park's Flamingo Stakes, the first Grade 1 of the season at 9 furlongs for 3-year-olds.

However, a colt named Time for a Change upset Devil's Bag in the 1984 Flamingo for Ogden Mills Phipps and trainer Angel Penna. Stephens came back to win the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes with the ill-fated Swale.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (23)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
NYRA announces resignation of CEO & President Chris Kay

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) Board of Directors today announced that it has accepted the resignation of NYRA CEO & President Chris Kay, effectively immediately.

To ensure continuity of operations, David O'Rourke, NYRA's Senior Vice President and…

Jan 23 | Categories: Aqueduct, |
Clasico Internacional del Caribe at Gulfstream Park

Clasico to be Broadcast on ESPN Deportes,

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Saturday’s Clasico Internacional del Caribe at Gulfstream Park, a five-race, $600,000 program featuring the best Thoroughbreds from Latin America and the Caribbean, will be broadcast in…

Dec 6 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
FOX Sports and the New York Racing Association

FOX Sports and the New York Racing Association announce most expansive tv programming agreement in horse racing history

FOX Sports to be primary national carrier of NYRA racing beginning in 2019

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA)…

Nov 29 | Categories: Aqueduct, |
Retiring Takter readies for final Breeders Crown

October 24, 2018, Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager
For the Breeders Crown

As soon-to-be-retired trainer Jimmy Takter prepares for his final Breeders Crown appearance Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, he is focused on his horses in the hopes of adding…

Oct 24 | Categories: U.S. Trotting Assn., |
Post positions drawn for Breeders Crown Open Pace, Open Trot

Tuesday, October 23, 2018 - by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager
For the Breeders Crown

McWicked, harness racing’s richest horse this year, drew post No. 3 for Saturday’s $430,000 Breeders Crown Open Pace and was made the 5-2 morning-line favorite while…

Oct 24 | Categories: U.S. Trotting Assn., |
Eleven former Breeders Crown champions in Saturday eliminations

Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - from the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown

Cranbury, NJ
--- Been there, done that. It could be the slogan for Saturday’s (Oct. 20) Breeders Crown eliminations for 3-year-olds and older horses at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

Eleven former…

Oct 19 | Categories: U.S. Trotting Assn., |


Cranbury, NJ --- With many divisions still in flux as to year-end honors, the connections of three of the top pacers in their respective groups each supplemented to their Breeder Crown event.

The Breeders…

Oct 15 | Categories: U.S. Trotting Assn., |
Breeders Crown eliminations for all 2-year-old divisions

Cranbury, NJ --- Warrawee Ubeaut, a filly who earlier this month became the fastest 2-year-old pacer in harness racing history, and divisional money-leaders Stag Party, The Ice Dutchess, Green Manalishi S, and Tall Drink Hanover were among the 71 freshmen entered Monday for the Breeders Crown…

Oct 15 | Categories: U.S. Trotting Assn., |
Mandatory 20-cent Rainbow 6 Payout Set for Saturday

Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Swells to $898,654
Mandatory Payouts Also Set for Late Pick 5, Last Super Hi-5
Princess Rooney (G2), Smile (G3) Top Summit of Speed Card

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Saturday’s Summit of Speed program, headlined by the $250,000 Princess…

Jun 30 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Curlin’s Approval, X Y Jet Top June 30 Summit of Speed Nominations

Curlin’s Approval to Defend Title in $250,000 Princess Rooney (G2)
Alter Homebred among 23 Noms for ‘Win and You’re In’ Event
X Y Jet Tops List of 16 Noms for $250,000 Smile Sprint (G3)
Multiple Grade 1-Placed Gelding Seeks 6th Straight at Gulfstream


Jun 20 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Madame Uno Seeks Rebound in Saturday’s $100,000 Ginger Punch

Jockey, Trainer, Owner Races Heats Up

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Her three-race win streak halted abruptly last time out, Madame Uno will seek to rebound in Saturday’s $100,000 Ginger Punch at Gulfstream Park.

The 4-year-old daughter of First Dude is scheduled…

Jun 14 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Justify vs. nine in Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes

It's Triple Crown hopeful Justify vs. nine in Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets

Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner draws post 1, is 4-5 to win Saturday's "Test of the Champion"

By Jenny Kellner

ELMONT, N. Y. - Can he do…

Jun 6 | Categories: Belmont Stakes, |