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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Tuesday, June 19, 2018


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.

Harry and Meghan even got to present a trophy to John and Tanya Gunther, owners of Without Parole, who remained undefeated in four starts by taking his Group 1 debut, the St. James Palace Stakes.

The St. James Palace was the second leg of a zero-takeout Pick 4.

It may be hyperbolic to suggest that the Gunthers are having a better year than Winstar Farm, et al, owners of undefeated Triple Crown winning Justify, but the statement has the benefit of being true.

Considering that the Lexingtonians bred Justify, name another breeding farm associated with the top two three-year-olds in the world, both undefeated in Grade 1 company; one on dirt, the other on turf.

For those who may be weary of the Bob Baffert-Mike Smith storyline, get ready for another: John Gosden, the Bob Baffert of Great Britain; Frankie Dettori, at 47, the Mike Smith of Europe.

Gosden and Dettori teamed up for three stakes wins on the opening day six-race Ascot program, having also won the Gr 2 Coventry with an exciting juvenile named Calyx, and the Listed Wolferton Stakes with Monarchs Glen.

Gosden, of course, is familiar to Americans from his time training in Southern California but the Cambridge graduate eventually returned to Europe and settled in Newmarket, England.

Gosden has won over 3,000 races in seven countries after learning his craft from the mythological Vincent O’Brien.

Dettori is another legend, renowned for his stylish paean to the prolific Canadian rider, Avellino Gomez, the originator of the ‘flying dismount’. But it’s Dettori’s horsemanship that sets him apart.

He began 2018 having ridden over 500 graded stakes. With the exception of the Arctic regions, the native Italian has won races on every continent.

Dettori has won in Bahrain, France, Great Britain, Qatar, Germany, Macau, Hong Kong, Trinidad and Tobago, Slovakia, South Africa, Abu Dhabi, Italy, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Mauritius, Japan, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.

And, of course, he has been a Breeders' Cup staple for years, having won the Classic, two Filly & Mare Turfs, the Juvenile, three Juvenile Turfs, the Mile, and the Turf on four occasions.

What many regard as his greatest accomplishment, however--and it’s impossible to disagree--was his sweep of the Champions’ Day card at Newmarket in 1996, winning all seven stakes run that afternoon.

While NBCSN was terrific in the pomp and circumstance department, it was TVG that served bettors the best way possible, breaking away from the horses, analysis, and relevant interviews only during commercial times out.

Both networks will cover the event through Friday, but only Television Games will cover the event live on closing day, Saturday. Most ADWs and Brisnet are providing free Royal Ascot past performances each day.

Written by John Pricci

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