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

Baffert counters Chad with a huge afternoon

Chad Brown and Bob Baffert are in a two-man race for the top trainer Eclipse. Chad surged last weekend with three Grade 1 wins. Bullet Bob countered Saturday with a pair of Grade 1 wins, running one-two in the first of them and one-three in the other. Baffert's Game Winner is
a sure Eclipse winner but Cash Call Futurity winner Improbable is picking up backers every time out. It also was a big day for family ties. American Pharoah's kid sister Chasing Yesterday overcame a brutal trip in the Starlet to run her record to four-for-five.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (4)
Grading committee nothing but a tool for breeders

With its latest decisions, the American Graded Stakes Committee has exposed itself as nothing more than a tool for breeders. Quality of a stakes and its history are irrelevant to the committee. Five major distance stakes, with a roster of distinguished winners, have been downgraded while three sprints of no great distinction nor historical impact have been elevated to the highest level. This does nothing to serve racing and its fans but everything to drive up stud fees and sales prices of horses with stamina limitations.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (32)

Changing of the Guard Shifts Racing Landscape

For those in Thoroughbred racing who believe that the great Mississippi River is what separates East from West or, in this case, the New York Racing Association from Southern California, know that you’ve been using the wrong simile.

A more appropriated image would be a double-edged reflection in a two-way mirror, worthy of an Oscar Wilde who, coincidentally, published his only novel 10 years after the justifiably famous Apollo won his Kentucky Derby.

Like Dorian Gray’s image, East Meets West is geographic deception defined.

Racing in New York and California has made real and potential changes in the waning days of the 2018 racing season, a transformation that may be completed by week’s end.

That’s when New York is expected to officially extend the most influential race meet on the planet when NYRA’s Board of Directors convenes this week. Whether or not it extends the meet might solely depend on attitude. Racetracks are unhappy when their potential plans appear elsewhere first. But as 2019 looms, it might not have a choice.

Extending the Saratoga race meet is at once a huge deal and one that long has been considered a possibility. Is starting the 2019 Spa meet on July 11 instead of July 19, such a big deal? What is big would be a humane decision to reduce the race week from an anachronistic six days to five.

Extending such sagacity further, weekday programs should be limited to nine races with 10-race cards on weekends. A 12-race Travers Day exemption? At least that’s easily justifiable, so have at it. What is clear is that New York racing already has changed and will continue to do so.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (30)
November Closes with a Dubious DQ, Dismissals, Retirements and a Glimpse Into the Future

This was intended to be a summary of all the great racing on display over the holiday weekend and a peek at Saturday’s Cigar Mile program, the last great hurrah of the 2018 racing season in New York.

Once again, however, it was controversy that dominated the Internet, immediately following Friday’s finale at Churchill Downs that resulted in a double disqualification, one in which the first finisher was to reward one bettor with $317,000 of Jackpot gold.

Internet speculation [read paranoia] was that the Churchill Downs stewards conspired to disqualify Presidential Tweet in favor of the official winner, Laser Loop, elevated from third, the result of a double disqualification, the other protagonist being place finisher, Colossus.

Conspiracy minded horseplayers in fact had little issue with the demoting of Colossus who bore in badly in midstretch, making contact with show finisher Laser Loop, video evidence showing that the incident cost Laser Loop a better placing.

It was the takedown of Presidential Tweet that caused an outcry after the stewards decided both were at fault. Rail running Presidential Tweet did bear out strides from the wire, forcing Corey Lanerie aboard Laser Loop to check from dangerously close quarters.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (13)

Sports Betting Slowly Taking Root, Creating Strange New Bedfellows

HALLANDALE BEACH, Dec. 4--Several months ago, when HRI staffer Tom Jicha wrote that legal sports betting may not be the portal to free purse money for horse racing stakeholders think it can be, I thought his take was a bit premature, a tad alarmist.

It turns out that Jicha may have been prescient. He thought it through and posited that sports fans—especially those who like to mix a little action in with their game watching—would never consider betting on a horse race not named Kentucky Derby.

Coincidentally, at the time TJ was making his observation, I was roiling against last-flash odds changes made possible by computer-aided syndicates who make large last-minute arbitrage wagers that render the concept of “value bets” moot.

This environment, coupled with the burgeoning number of 30% super trainers working on virtually every circuit, has me whispering to friends and associates that if I were 30 years younger I might walk away from a game I’ve been passionate about for a half-century.

It would not be because I’ve lost my interest in the sport, just the day-to-day wagering, becoming a Saturday-only warrior for real. I love the track and backside environments, the majestic animals and racetrack lifers too much. My hunger for that will never change.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (10)
Saratoga Meet May Be Extended in 2019

Plantation, FL, NOV. 29, 2018--Pending the results of a committee hearing and subsequent NYRA Board approval, the 2019 Saratoga race meet will open July 11* and run through Labor Day, with Mondays and Tuesdays dark.

As a result, the current 40-day racing schedule would be maintained.

HRI did not receive confirmation on the story from a NYRA spokesperson when asked to comment on Wednesday.

This development was posted first at, the web address of NBC-affiliated Channel 13, which broadcasts throughout New York's Capital District.

A Tweet from CH-13 sports anchor Chris Onorato earlier cited multiple insider sources.

Stay tuned...

*correction made 112918

For Latest on Saratoga extension, see Comment #17 below the original post

Written by John Pricci | Comments (24)

Racing Must Turn Talk Into Action Sooner, Not Later

The University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program hosts the 45th Annual Global Symposium on Racing from December 3-5. Several pressing issues are on the agenda and several are not.

Integrity is on the agenda. Twice. First in the keynote address by Jack Anderson, Professor of Sports Law and Melbourne Law School, and again in a panel discussion that includes Jennifer Durenberger, New York Racing Association Regulatory Veterinarian and Racing Officials Accreditation Program board member.

Integrity begins with ridding the sport of drugs. If that is not the top priority, then they will just be flapping their lips. No other sport in the world allows athletes to receive injectable drugs on the day of an event. Both the practice and optics are terrible.

Whip use is another topic that needs immediate attention. Europe has regulated whip use but that has yet to happen here. Jockey Christophe Soumillon’s excessive use of the whip on Thunder Snow in the Breeders’ Cup Classic would have earned the rider a severe penalty in Europe--a three to four weeks suspension--but the stewards at Churchill Downs in Kentucky did not register even a whisper of complaint.

The two greatest queries from people not associated with the sport ask why drugs and whipping are allowed. This has not escaped the eyes of those supporting animal rights activists and will have a long-term negative effect if not reeled in. Human-animal bonds get stronger by the day.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (10)
The Cost of Technology or Lack Thereof

Once our data rich sport had a monopoly on legal betting but now sports betting is legal and is in direct competition with horse racing. The industry has a challenge on its hands: Call it the technological divide.

Horseracing is behind the curve because for years its leaders feared attaching any electronic device to a horse. That unrealistic fear has now abated, replaced by concerns that sports betting will take wagering dollars away from racing for distribution to other sports.

Horseracing lags behind the major sports leagues in the fields of data, tracking and analytics. Equibase, the data collection and dissemination arm of The Jockey Club that previously subsidized the installation of Trakus at North American racetracks is now working on a second generation tracking system to replace it.

Consider, however, that Trakus, a first generation tracking technology, was castoff long ago by the National Hockey League.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (35)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
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, |
Agreement Represents Giant Step Forward in Florida Racing

Florida Sire Stakes Highlights Innovative $2.5 Million Deal

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – P.J. Campo calls the recently-signed agreement between Gulfstream Park, the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (FTBOA) and Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective…

Dec 22 | Categories: Gulfstream, |