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

Tracks Need a Drug Enforcement Policy With Bite

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Dogs trained to sniff out drugs and bombs are commonplace in society, used by both law enforcement and the military. Such dogs are at train stations, airports, parades and many sporting events. Why are they not common at Thoroughbred racetracks?

At Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico, Chini, a three-year-old Belgian Malinois, guards the stable gate and patrols the track’s backstretch with her handler, searching tack rooms and stalls for illegal drugs. She was trained by K9 police to detect 12 equine drugs, as well as the plastic used in syringes.

Chini can check out a vehicle in the time it takes to verify an ID for admission. Logic dictates all racetracks should employ such dogs. Drugs are not manufactured at the track. They must enter through a guarded gate. These guards are underutilized if employed only as admission personnel.

Another effort to keep horses from racing on drugs will be instituted at Remington Park in Oklahoma. Remington and the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association, with approval of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission, jointly agreed to implement a “house rule” during the 2019 American Quarter Horse Mixed Meeting, requiring a clean hair test, free of any prohibited drugs, be submitted for every horse prior to entry in any race at the meeting.

The New York Racing Association could use a dog like Chini. In fact, it could employ a herd with horses stabled at three tracks, all with several points of entry. NYRA should apply to the New York State Gaming Commission to do so, along with hair testing.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (20)
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)

Pegasus Turf lands a couple of major pieces

The Pegasus World Cup has been slowly but surely filling with big names--Accelerate, City of Light, Gunnevera and Audible, who got upset on an off track Saturday. Little has been said about the new $7 million companion grass stakes. No more. Over the past few days, Magical, who put a scare into Enable in the Breeders' Cup Turf, and Japanese runner Aerolithe have been named probables, along with Global Empire, who ran big to take Saturday's Fort Lauderdale over 12 rivals, including four other Grade 1 winners.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (30)
Sitting out Audible last summer sets up a huge 2019

Audible was sitting on a big 2018 last spring. His win in the Florida Derby was his fourth in five career starts. Even his fast-closing third, a head off Eclipse champion Good Magic, in the Kentucky Derby augured well of more big things to come. However, offering only vague explanations, Todd Pletcher put him on the shelf. It might turn out to be a genius move. Audible came back big on the Breeders' Cup undercard and is any price to humble five overmatched rivals in Saturday's Harlan's Holiday, his prep for the $9 million Pegasus. On the same card, the grassy Fort Lauderdale is a super betting race with five Grade 1 turf winners and some others capable of beating them all.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (20)

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)

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)
The Case For and Against Justify: a Vote for Triumph or a Travesty?

LOS ANGELES, November 26, 2018--As more Eclipse Award voters have written about their expectation of--if not commitment to--a vote for Justify over Accelerate as Horse-of-the-Year, I found some of the logic employed to rationalize their position to be as entertaining as they were enlightening.

Few made their case as evenhandedly as Dick Powell, who pointed out most of the strengths and weaknesses on both sides in this piece, which should be read in its entirety for context pertaining to the financial aspects of racing versus breeding.

Nor has anyone else I’ve read made it quite as clear how often Justify’s success was achieved over tracks that may have compromised his competition:
"… [Following] his career debut ... An allowance race over a muddy track going a two-turn mile was next up …

... for his one chance to earn Derby eligibility points ... Baffert chose the Santa Anita Derby, where he faced the very good Bolt d'Oro.

Written by Indulto | Comments (29)


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, |