John Pricci 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, 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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Thursday, July 18, 2013


SARATOGA SPRINGS, July 18, 2013—


Happy 36th birthday. I know I haven’t written much lately, but I’ve been doing a lot of commuting between here and Gotham.

Sorry, but every once in a while I need a dirty-water bagel and a middle-finger salute to make me whole.

Meanwhile, I miss everything. Another Open House come and gone, and this one had entertainment—an appearance by an honest to goodness reality TV star.

Then the races for opening day were drawn Tuesday, and on Wednesday, NYRA’s new commander-in-chief, Christopher Kay, met with the media.

Unfortunately, I rolled into town about an hour after it started. I miss all the fun, and that’s no way to begin a sesquicentennial.

I’m happy to say that I live in a house that has bunting celebrating that occasion, as does several other homes around the neighborhood.

It’s really kind of cool, actually, the kind of thing that will always attract people to Saratoga Springs.

The people here are different, even if they find it difficult to make left turns.

As for the lid-lifter, the races for opening day look especially juicy. There’s probably not enough money on the planet to play this card. [We’re bracing for WMC as you read this].

Del Mar may have lots of pretty women in dresses and wide-rimmed hats but we’ve got those here, too.

Although I think we all could use an ocean breeze right about now.

But, sorry, Saratoga as a Thoroughbred meet is still the biggest brand in racing, considering its lengthy 40-day run and attempts in recent years to cheapen the product, worshipping at the altar of betting handle instead.

A total of 117 horses were entered overnight in 10 races including the oft-entertaining Grade 3 James Marvin and the traditional opener, another G3 for the debutantes.

The Marvin might turn out to be a good betting race if the opening-day crowd around the country makes any mistakes, but as for drama, it’s not exactly Mariano Rivera at the All-Star Game.

But the babies are fun. I like the idea of six furlongs and the fact that six of the seven entrants, including a Todd Pletcher entry, either broke maiden or won their debuts by an aggregate 25 lengths.

We expect the Schuylerville winner to come from another state; Kentucky. Trainer Bret Calhoun is very proud of Bahnah.

The filly won her debut laughing, then came back last week and outworked 122 of her peers that week at Churchill Downs.

Brazen Persuasion, meanwhile, was nearly as impressive and has a win at the trip; the only one in the field to do so. Rosie rides this miss for Steven Asmussen.

Still no rest for the wicked; there’s a lot to process for Opening Day. The countdown begins now.

Written by John Pricci

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