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

Breeders make it hard to stay in love with racing

Good to be back. Greedy breeders continue to work against the good of the sport that has made them rich. They continue to retire budding superstars, horses who will hold the attention of the masses, prematurely. A couple of weeks ago, it was Merchant Navy, who in winning the Diamond Jubilee Stakes established himself as one of the great sprinters in the game. Don't expect to see him at the Breeders' Cup. Though still a 3-year-old and perfectly sound and healthy, he has been sent to the breeding shed. It appears Triple Crown champion Justify will follow, even sooner than we expected.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (21)
Breeders’ Cup expands again; how many is too many?

The Breeders Cup continues to expand, directly and in its offshoots. The latest addition, the Juvenile Turf Sprint, already has been endowed with four Win-and-You're-In preps, two of which will be run for the first time. This raises a couple of questions. How can brand new races be put on an equal plain with long established top grade stakes and how many races can Breeders' Cup create before they start to dilute the championship cachet?

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (9)

WinStar Has Sport’s Immediate Future in its Hands

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, July 8, 2018—Justify’s influence on Thoroughbred racing knows no bounds. He’s big, he’s bad, he’s world-wide.

Thanks to America’s 13th Triple Crown winner and despite this country’s horsemen’s reticence to join the rest of the world regarding use of raceday medication, the big chestnut justifiably has had a universal impact on the sport.

According to the Thoroughbred Racing Commentary’s Global Rankings of June 24, jockey Mike Smith is second to only Great Britain’s Ryan Moore in world-wide accomplishments.

That dovetails appropriately with Bob Baffert being ranked just below Aidan O’Brien as the world’s leading trainer.

American based sire, the late Scat Daddy, currently ranks third in the world behind Great Britain’s Galileo and Dubawi, vaulting owner WinStar Farm into sixth place in that category.

WinStar ranks behind three Sheikhs; Hamdan Al Maktoum, plus the Godolphin and Juddmonte operations, with Coolmore Partners at #1 and Australia’s Magic Bloodstock Racing, owners of the mythological and prolific race mare, Winx.

However, when it comes to the power to control the immediate future of racing headlines in this country, WinStar ranks second to none. And on that the die might have been cast a fortnight ago:

Written by John Pricci | Comments (4)
Death’s Circumstances Bring Disparate Perspectives

The week started promisingly as we looked forward to midweek racing that had such huge implications for the sport and the continued growth of international racing’s popularity.

That’s how special the Royal Ascot is for so many racing fans and punters. Indeed, I had hopes that I might actually do the bucket-list Ascot thing this year but it was not to be. Maybe 2019, God willing.

But this disappointment paled in comparison to losing a friend and a personal piece of Saratoga history. Undeniably Judge Larry LaBelle lived a full and rich life until he passed this week at age 90.

I learned another life lesson from his passing, that longevity does not make loss less painful.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (4)

Happy New Half-Year

HALLANDALE BEACH, July 1, 2018— The year 2018 is officially half over and there is much to anticipate in the months ahead, all culminating at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in November.

Some of the immediate future played out all around North America on Saturday, indicating that there are lots of battles to be won, more title fights that could lead to a changing of the guard at year’s end.

The lone exception will be Justify, for there is no knocking him off his divisional leading Horse of the Year perch--no matter what happens the rest of the way.

Singular achievements are just that; 13 Triple Crowns in the last century since Sir Barton in 1919, exactly a century and a half since a New York-bred filly, Ruthless, won the inaugural Belmont Stakes in 1867.

Parenthetically, there’s nothing wrong with your math, or mine. There was no racing in 1911 and 1912, due to legislation known as the Hart Agnew Law. Talk about your nattering nabobs of negativity. But I digress.

Speaking of the track in Elmont, let’s begin there were Midnight Bisou, a good filly out West, became a beast of the East with a completely dominant six-length victory in the G2 Mother Goose, her first start for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Some readers have been wondering whether Monomoy Girl might be up to challenging colts in the Travers Stakes. Justify notwithstanding, it now might be more interesting to see whether she’s up to the new and improved ‘Bisou’.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (8)
Royal Ascot Redefines Dark Tuesday; Gosden, Dettori Team Rule

I’m not exactly sure when I became a Euro weenie. What is for certain, however, is that I was very late to the party.

It’s difficult enough following two or three tracks on a simulcast Saturday, and now I want to begin watching races after crossing the world’s largest pond beginning at 8:30 am?

Why not?

Racing fans with a similar jones have the good fortune that NBC Sports, via its NBCSN network, needs programming. With Royal Ascot gaining in popularity with American horseplayers, and because bet takers also want more content, the void is nicely filled.

Fans, more than gamblers, love the pomp and circumstance of horse racing as spectacle.

And if Her Majesty the Queen weren’t spectacle enough, Ascot 2018 played host to the newlyweds of the year, Prince Harry and the lovely Duchess of Sussex.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (14)

Triple Crown Reform Rendered Unjustified

LOS ANGELES, June 25, 2018—In the week leading up to the Belmont Stakes, former NYRA CEO, Charles Hayward opined,
"… whatever the outcome, the Belmont Stakes, as the last leg of the Triple Crown at a mile and a half, has outlived its usefulness ...

… Whether there is a runner eligible for the Triple Crown going into the Belmont or not, the outcome of the race has been consistently disappointing.

… over the last two decades the quality of the Belmont field, as compared to the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, has been sorely lacking

... for the horses that do not win the Derby, their connections regroup and put together three-to-six-month plans for those who do not continue on the Triple Crown tour.

... the mile-and-a-half Belmont is a lone wolf - there is no other Grade 1 stake at that distance on the dirt in the U.S.

... no trainer in the U.S. under normal circumstances would run a horse at a mile and a quarter, a mile and three sixteenths and a mile and a half over five-week period.

... the current distances and race spacing are no longer consistent with current industry practices."

Following the well-attended running of the final TC leg, Bob Ehalt observed,
"… after six different horses won the next six Triple Crown races in 2016 and 2017 ... you wondered how long would it be before ... the clamor for change started anew.

Now, thanks to Justify, that notion of altering the series can be put to rest."

Written by Indulto | Comments (31)
Counterpoint: Winning Races Should Qualify the Derby Entrants

LOS ANGELES, May 14, 2018—The fact that the heavens opened two years in succession to rain on the Kentucky Derby post parade -- and thrice since the reign of vindictive venue restriction began – might suggest to some that the cosmos has colluded with climate change to compromise the proceedings on Derby Day.

Even if a higher power isn't manifesting its displeasure, genuine concern would not be misplaced over what has arguably become a calendar-confining, creativity-crushing qualification process that imposes Churchill Downs’ concept of candidate correctness on all Derby starters.

By casting the road to the Kentucky Derby in concrete, with little accommodation for individual development and adversity, CDI may be guilty of competition constraint and career contraction among its equine campaigners.

The 144th “Run for the Roses” was the sixth time starter eligibility was determined through performances in a selected series of qualifying prep races with preference given to participation within six weeks of the main event.

No longer is eligibility based on total earnings accumulated in any combination of graded stakes races. While the latter had been independent of surface, distance, gender, and venue, the former removed turf routes, all sprints, all filly races, and certain tracks, from the equation.

Was it the success and popularity of the Kentucky Derby that emboldened the operators of the host track to usurp the power to dictate where and when runners could qualify for their race?

Or was it the determination of deep-pocketed owners to pursue their Derby dreams at almost any cost that encouraged CDI to take control of prep participation as well as the main event?

Written by John Pricci | Comments (4)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
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, |
Watershed looking to end year on high note in Queens County

Green Gratto faces talented field in $100,000 Gravesend

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Godolphin Racing's Watershed will headline a competitive field of nine in the $125,000 Queens County for 3-year-olds and up, one of two stakes races on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack alongside the $100,000…

Dec 22 | Categories: Aqueduct, |


Citing the widespread use of drugs on yearlings and two years olds that may result in improper bone development and the recent use of horse auctions to launder money for the…

Dec 14 | Categories: Horse Racing, |
Forever Unbridled Holds Off Abel Tasman To Win Longines Distaff

DEL MAR, Calif. (Nov. 3, 2017) – Charles Fipke’s homebred Forever Unbridled ($9.40) swept to the lead coming off the far turn and then held off a late bid from Abel Tasman by a half-length to win the 34th running of the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) for fillies and mares…

Nov 4 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, |
Rainbow 6 Hit at Gulfstream West for $177,500

Sunday’s Late Pick 5 Carryover $19,900

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – Gulfstream Park West’s Rainbow 6 was hit Saturday afternoon for $177,521.

The 20-cent wager had not been hit for 19 consecutive programs before Geh Schnell ($11.20), one of three live tickets in…

Oct 29 | Categories: Gulfstream West, |



Oct 29 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, |


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017)
– Cooler temperatures and the leaves changing colors signify the return of live horse racing to the Louisville area as Churchill Downs, the historic home of the Kentucky Derby, readies to open its 128th Fall Meet on Sunday,…

Oct 28 | Categories: Churchill Downs, |
Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Reaches $113,131 for Thursday

Tapit Filly My Favorite Gift Impressive Debut Winner
Jockey Jaramillo Enjoys Four-Win Afternoon

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved for the 17th consecutive program Wednesday, growing the carryover jackpot to $113,131.66 for Thursday’s eight-race program.

Oct 26 | Categories: Gulfstream West, |