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

Racing Requires Revolutionary--Not Evolutionary--Change

LOS ANGELES, January 19, 2019--HorseRaceInsider’s Managing Editor Mark Berner recently entertained the possibility of the Breeders Cup owning its own home:
"Holding the event at the home of the Kentucky Derby highlighted the fact that the Breeders’ Cup still suffers from Derby envy.

… Coming of age … involves owning your own house … Breeders’ Cup Ltd. should buy a permanent home for its event in a city with a warm climate …

… New Orleans is a southern city that knows how to host a party. Its racetrack, the Fair Grounds, for many years opened its meeting on Thanksgiving...

… As long as we are thinking outside the oval, Breeders’ Cup Ltd. should buy the track and build a modern facility. If the Breeders’ Cup is to come of age and shake off its Derby envy, it should showcase the sport’s most important day as never before… at the racetrack of the future."

Berner’s reasoning is worth considering in its entirety, if one hasn’t already. My objective would be an expansion of his concept to include a broader issue: Drug Regulation.

The problem isn’t so much acquiring the actual property as it is to extend existing Louisiana regulations, submitting to the local horsemen’s group to the issues medication, takeout and wagering menus, etc.

Racing’s downward spiral won’t be halted until it escapes from the uncooperative, uneven, and ineffective oversight of disparate state regulatory agencies. Fear of federal regulation permeates the industry. It might be enough for the industry to act.

Written by Indulto | Comments (9)
The Search for a Level Playing Never Stops

LOS ANGELES, December 12, 2018--Through no fault of my own, I’ve become what I’ve roiled against for the last fourteen years: A rebated horseplayer! Well, at least for one month anyway.

NYRA Bets is automatically applying a 3% rebate to every wager on a race at Aqueduct during December.

My very first rebated wager was a Dime Super play on the Cigar Mile with Mendelssohn and Patternrecognition on top and ALL on the bottom. Had True Timber finished 4th instead of 2nd, I’d have cashed, but wait, now I still will!

My $12.00 investment may be long gone but the 36 cents that will soon hit my ADW account is going to pay for three of those 120 combinations.

That sure beats the old "sharp stick in the eye!" So I shouldn’t complain, right?

However, "all that glitters is not gold." The playing field still isn’t level.

Written by Indulto | Comments (2)

What Cheaters Use and How to Avoid Detection

Part II of Mark Berner's report on how betting and cheating issues threaten the future of Thoroughbred racing

JAN. 16, 2019--According to research found at the website, here are some of the known methods that cheaters use, and the ways they can game the system:

BIOSIMILARS: A growing problem is the rise of copycat versions of Erythropoietin (EPO). Because it has been so successful financially, companies in India, China and Cuba have developed drugs that do a similar job in the body, but have a slightly different molecular fingerprint.

These cheap versions of EPO, Biosimilars, are easily bought on the Internet. Some scientists who track and monitor the development of copycat EPO drugs say there could be hundreds of different versions from different parts of the world.

Blood transfusions have long been used to enhance athletic performance. Transfusions are an extremely straightforward, simple, and effective method of increasing the blood's oxygen carrying capacity. Recombinant equine erythropoietin, EPO, has been the drug of choice.

With the advent of more effective and inclusive testing, the use of EPO has become more difficult and complex. Because of the increased risk of detection, horse dopers may turn to an older form of blood doping that, until recently, has been virtually undetectable.

BLOOD DOPING: There are two methods of doping through blood transfusions: autologous and homologous. With an autologous transfusion, a horse receives its own blood. The donated blood is stored and then the horse receives that blood at a later point in time. In a homologous transfusion, the blood comes from another horse.

The benefit of homologous transfusion is there is no decrease in performance during the donation period.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (41)
Racing’s Present and Future Danger, Part I

JAN 15, 2019--A New York Times report on Dec 15, 2018, described McKinsey & Company as the company to hire if the goal is to raise the stature of authoritarian and corrupt governments, autocrats, despots, looters, oligarchs, torturers and abusers of human rights.

McKinsey’s rebuttal the following day was not a denial, but one that said it broke no laws.

There are three big three consulting firms in this space: McKinsey & Co, Bain & Co, and Boston Consulting Group. McKinsey is so good that in 2012 US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, once an owner of Bain, talked of his intention to hire McKinsey to "fix" the American government.

The Jockey Club is well familiar with McKinsey having retained them in 1990 and in May 1991. The company delivered a report entitled, "Building a World Class Drug Detection System for the Racing Industry: A National Strategic Plan."

It is nearly 30 years later and Thoroughbred horseracing is still an industry rife with drugs and animal abuse. As an aside, during this time frame, McKinsey expertise helped turn China’s laggard economy into the second largest in the world.

McKinsey was unable to achieve the level of China’s success for our sport because it cannot change the public’s perception of horseracing. Simply stated, we are our worst enemy.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (40)

The Pegasus is here to stay

The Pegasus will be run for the third time next Saturday. This is two more than many foresaw when the concept was announced. Changes still have to be made. A big one this year is the addition of the companion Turf. The rich buy-in and exorbitant payoffs to also-rans remain an issue of concern. With the Super Bowl coming to Miami next year, a fourth Pegasus at Gulfstream is more certain than Justify and Monomoy Girl being named 3-year-old champions. This year's Derby prep schedule picks up Saturday at the Fair Grounds, where 15 are entered and a case can by mounted for at least half of them.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (9)
Christie tells Uncle Sam, keep your hands off sports betting

Former NJ governor Chris Christie, the driving force behind the legalization of sports betting, gave a speech this past week in which he urged lawmakers from gambling states to tell the federal government that it is not needed to oversee the newest form of gambling. In other NJ-related news, Monmouth Park made a long overdue move to separate the track's centerpiece event, the Haskell, from the same weekend as the Jim Dandy at Saratoga. It's a step in the right direction but not a big enough step.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (35)

2018’s Mixed Signals: Business Very Good; Not So Optimistic Outlook

Tis a pity that sometimes progress cannot be stopped; such is the dual-edged sword of the Internet in general and social media in particular.

Argue what you will about government encroachment into our lives, then don’t you feel a tad less safe about today’s not-so-friendly skies, or needing to pay your bills later rather than sooner?

Actually most honest people would agree that Internet giants Facebook, Google and, yes, Twitter, too, need to be reined in for the good of society and, as facts prove, for the democratic republic, too.

However, the Internet and social media should prove a boon to data-dependent racing and has to a significant degree. Otherwise, how does one explain, surprisingly and contextually, recently released prodigious handle figures for 2018?

Many industry observers admit that handle figures are not the metrics they once were to reflect the success, failure, or the general popularity of horse racing in the modern era.

Just like the country’s immediate fate, things are not headed in the right direction. The result of a recent poll taken at a large racing website show that 52% of the sport’s stakeholders are pessimistic about the game’s future.

Yet, national handle increased by more than 3.3% last year. That might not sound like much but, in context and in our view, it was huge.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (38)
Today, the Game Renews Itself… Like Always

Glad we waited to cast our ballot until after the Grade 1 season official closed on Saturday, December 29.

For us it made the difference in several classes, most notably the Eclipse Champion Trainer category and for some second and third place rankings.

But before we consider what the coming year will bring for the industry and its supporters, a final piece of 2018 house cleaning. This is what one man’s Eclipse ballot looked like:

Written by John Pricci | Comments (9)


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, |