John Pricci

HorseRaceInsider.com executive editor John Pricci has over three decades of experience as a thoroughbred racing public handicapper and was an award-winning journalist while at New York Newsday for 18 years.

John has covered 14 Kentucky Derbies and Preaknesses, all but three Breeders' Cups since its inception in 1984, and has seen all but two Belmont Stakes live since 1969.

Currently John is a contributing racing writer to MSNBC.com, an analyst on the Capital Off-Track Betting television network, and co-hosts numerous handicapping seminars. He resides in Saratoga Springs, New York.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Speed Kills at Gulfstream Park; Castellano Sets Meet Record


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., March 12. 2014--It's the first lesson taught in Handicapping 101: Speed is always dangerous.

It certainly was today when recent maiden winner Social Inclusion improved his lifetime record to 2-for-2, stretching out successfully to ruin the three year old debut of Honor Code, setting a track record in the process.

Unofficially, it was the fourth track record set at this meeting, all of them at distances of one mile or more.

The upset, engineered by trainer Manuel Aspurua and under excellent rating from Luis Contreras, also ruined Javier Castellano's bid to break his own Gulfstream record of 112 victories set last year. Castellano already had ridden four winners on the card.

Castellano got his 113th meet victory and fifth of the day aboard Bartiromo in the 9th race for trainer Chad Brown

The karma for the returning Remsen winner and highly regarded Kentucky Derby contender was not great from the start. He was a little quiet in the paddock and was washy in the final minutes of the parade postward.

Further, he was obstreperous at the gate, and it took a few extra members of the starting gate crew to coax him into stall number 4.

A little wide rounding the first turn, the winning leader, with an opening gambit of 24:32, was in complete control. Castellano, sensing what was happening, pushed Honor Code through between horses, getting within about four lengths of Social Inclusion as he commenced his turn run. Honor Code never looked the part of a winner.

When it was over, the dominant winner stopped the timer in 1:40.97. The victory wasn't totally unexpected as the second choice got late money that dropped his odds from 3-1 to 2-1 at a minute before post.

With Honor Code holding second by a daylight margin over third choice We're All Set, bettors who wagered over $390,000 to show on Honor Code never had a anxious moment.

The most disappointing aspect of the defeat was that Honor Code needed to be encouraged by Castellano to gallop out past the wire.

It appeared that Honor Code needed the race badly and will move forward in his second start.

The question is whether Shug McGaughey will run out of racetrack before getting the Remsen winner at absolute tops for the big dance on May's first Saturday, little more than seven weeks away. It will be interesting, to say the least.

Written by John Pricci

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