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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Friday, May 02, 2014


My Two Cents, Plain


SARATOGA SPRINGS, May 1, 2014—With apologies to Jimmy Cannon of the late, great Journal-American, as homage to a notes column he uniquely popularized entitled “Nobody Asked Me But…”

Yeah, you get the idea, then probably so did the great Mike Lupica and his “Shooting From the Lip.” Same idea, different name. Anyway, here goes.

Rename Baffert’s Colt “Lostopportunity”

…As in unable to bet against… It truly was a great opportunity for value, a second choice with little chance to win withdrawn from Derby 140 with a foot bruise hurting value potential everywhere on the board.

From a performance figure standpoint, he was on a terrible line, as if another regression were coming, likely not having performed as many taking a positive view thought he might.

From a betting perspective, this hurts every logical contender not named California Chrome.

While I’m not sure that longer-priced, uncoupled stablemate Chitu, will get all 10 furlongs, I believe his chances are better after he drew well on Wednesday; a tactical speedster drawn outside most of, if not all, the important gas in this matchup.

The price might still be right, but now he's the only Baffert, not the "other" Baffert.

“Can You Hear Me Now?”

Rather, can you hear us now, the horseplayers of North America? Handle at Churchill Downs was off a staggering 25% on April 30 and 11% for the meet despite a good opening night--and another 18% on Thursday with one more race than last year, according to an industry watchdog.

Horseplayers no longer will be taken for granted. With many true non-believers already having abandoned the game, those that are left apparently will not be snookered, hoodwinked, bamboozled.

Pre-race price matters both on and off the tote board. It’s very early in the game but it will be interesting to see if this downward spiral continues, especially on Derby weekend.

Look, There’s a Real-Life Person Inside That Suit”

And his name is John Asher, the Vice President of Corporate Communications at Churchill Downs, honest-to-goodness racing guy.

Asher wasn’t exactly Adam Silver, then he doesn’t have the big chair, but you had to feel for him as he tried to explain away a snub of Ron Turcotte by Churchill Downs for a third consecutive year.

Turcotte is a man’s man, one who never has uttered the words; poor me. He’s thankful for the opportunities that life gave him, and he wears his love of the game on his sleeve.

And here was poor Asher trying to explain this whole flap away and it was obvious how badly he felt, and embarrassed, too. I still can’t get over the fact that it cost a Canadian film crew $500 to get Turcotte a handicapped parking space inside Churchill Downs.

Sadly, CDI is not alone in this. Hall of Famers also have had a tough time getting into Saratoga on some afternoons following the annual induction ceremonies.

These are not overt snubs, of course, but those in charge drop the ball when they fail to instruct admissions and security personnel the proper protocol for treating celebrities.

No, red-carpet types seldom have trouble getting on the grounds on Oaks and Derby day. It’s racing’s celebrities who often get short shrift.


“Can We All Bow Our Heads and Pray for Poor ‘Injun’ Chuck’?”

It was inevitable, a matter of time before Ed Musselman buried himself. And it's about time someone caught on. He's gone too far before but it wasn’t until he maligned an entire ethnic group before the industry finally pulled him up.

(If you’re interested in his awful iterations, see the April 26 edition of Indian Charlie in the archives section of the website of the same name).

Guess it was too bad for Chuck that Donald Sterling came along during the same week. Chuck’s message wasn’t as bad as Sterling’s but it was bad enough..

Every racetracker has a good natured laugh with references to Dead Duck Darnell or Ken McPeeked and all the rest. The backstretch never has been confused with church.

But Musselman has made anti-Semitic remarks, too, about two Daily Racing Form staffers and never paid a price for those comments. Now he has, with Keeneland, Churchill and Stronach Group tracks pulling their advertising form his publication and barring its distribution on racetrack property.

“Exotically Speaking, Happy Oaks Day”

Sorry, but Untapable appears Unbeatable in today’s Kentucky Oaks, post 13 and all. Her blowout for this was frightening; had to feel a little concerned for the exercise rider who was tasked to keep her from launching herself into space, she was so out of her mind with run.

Mortgages are not paid at 4-5. So, if you must, check today’s Feature Race Analysis for some alternative wagers.

Written by John Pricci

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