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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Saturday, February 03, 2018


All Sophomores All the Time


Finally, at least as far as the sophomore division is concerned, Gulfstream Park's championship meet finally began on Saturday February 3 when five graded stakes for three-year-olds were staged in South Florida. And there was a little something for everyone.

There were two turf races, one for each sex; two sprints, one for the boys and one for the girls and, of course, the nominal feature, the Grade 2 Holy Bull at a mile and a sixteenth, the glamour division's first race around two turns, good enough to earn the triumphant Audible 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points.



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RACE OF THE DAY: With their strides synchronized, Gidu and Speed Franco (outside) race away from highly regarded Untamed Domain and all the rest in the Grade 3 Dania Beach for three-year-olds on the turf. With heads bobbing this way and that, it was Speed Franco’s nose that reached the wire first beneath Emisael Jaramillo for trainer Gustavo Delgado.


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PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY, Part 1: Underscoring that his record-performing debut was for real, the well named Strike Power made the move up in distance and class into the Grade 3 Swale look easy as he took command from the start and improved his position under confident handling from Gulfstream’s leading rider Luis Saez for trainer Mark Hennig.


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CO-PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY, Part II: Trainer Todd Pletcher called an audible on himself. Planning to keep his New York-bred in the Big Apple for a northern assault on the Classics, he decided to ship the colt into South Florida and Audible--the racehorse--obliged with a 5-1/2 length romp, taking the Grade 2 Holy Bull in 1:41.92 over a wet-fast surface that did not yield exceptionally fast times all afternoon.


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KIARAN TAKES CHARGE: Making her first start for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and owner Peter Deutsch beneath regular partner Paco Lopez, the dark bay daughter of Take Charge Indy improved her lifetime slate to (7) 5-1-0 for her first graded victory in the G3 Forward Gal, winning the 7-furlong sprint with complete authority and is now 2-for-2 in Hallandale.


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MOTION FINDS HIS WAY HOME:
Taking some of the sting out of Untamed Domain’s third place finish in the Dania Beach, Graham Motion-trained Thewayjam made it two straight in South Florida and third victory at a mile by displaying a strong turn of foot in midstretch, having enough in reserve to hold off fast-closing Salsa Bella, Eclipse Award-winning Jose Ortiz got first run on older brother Irad.







Photos by Toni Pricci

Written by John Pricci

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Sunday, January 28, 2018


Through the Looking Glass at Pegasus II


Pegasus II was a year in the planning, two months in the construction, one day in the betting and for the winners, one night of partying.

HRI let Toni Pricci loose with her camera for a look around and she came up with some of her favorite subjects and people, especially the people.

Enjoy the photo array...



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The party started early and the entertainment
kept things moving along all day


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If you’re going to participate, you need time to study, or eat,
or have a cocktail or all of the above under the VIP Cabana tent.




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This is our world now: Security, of the two and
four-legged variety, kept their eyes on the crowd all day


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A familiar site at Gulfstream Park, a future first ballot
Hall of Famer on his way to a 15th consecutive training
title and his legendary first call Hall of Famer rider



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The crowd edges closer to the rail and,
as Fred Capossela would have said…


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It is now post time…
for a freshly minted Horse of the Year and America’s newest citizen


Written by John Pricci

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Friday, January 26, 2018


Pegasus II: Rare Unanimity Among HRI Staffers


I can't get my guys to agree on anything, until Saturday's Pegasus that is.

As TJ notes, he's thrashed them all since Dubai and he believes the outside draw is an overrated negative.

Marko would agree in this case, noting that he has the speed to contend from any position.

Indulto is in a most-likely state of mind, with the 2017 Horse of the Year the most likely winner and West Coast the most likely to improve. Totally agree with both those assessments.

I'm picking here with both my head and my heart. A fan since he showed his honesty on the Triple Crown trail in 2016, Gun Runner became a man later that year and his effort in Dubai forced the Performance of the Year from no less than the good Arrogate.

It is the nature of this fascinating game that the Dubai World Cup was Gun Runner's breakthrough to greatness but for Arrogate, the Del Mar surface notwithstanding, emptied him out following the greatest four-race win streak I've seen in nearly five decades on the racetrack.

For me, his Dubai World Cup ranks right up there with Secretariat's tremendous-machine Belmont and Seattle Slew's uniquely courageous Jockey Club Gold Cup.

As a fan, not a bettor (see Saturday's Feature Race Analysis section for a Pegasus betting strategy), I'd love to see him win by five and go out leaving no doubts as to his newly achieved greatness. Having said that, I wouldn't say he can't lose. Why?

Because I've been around the game too long. With the very rare exception, they all get beat.

But, like Indulto, he is the most probable winner.

Go Champ, Go!


TOM JICHA

1. Gun Runner--He's thrashed all the main challengers. Post 10 way over-rated.
2. Stellar Wind--Chad Brown at 30-1. I'll take that every day.
3. Collected--Bob talking up West Coast. That make this "the other Baffert"
4. Gunnevera--He'll close for a small piece.


MARK BERNER

1. Gun Runner has speed to strike from contending position.
2. Collected will benefit from prep race.
3. West Coast figures in pace and can get part.
4. Gunnevera won here off a layoff last year.


INDULTO

1. Gun Runner – Most likely winner despite draw
2. West Coast – Draw benefited most likely improver
3. Gunnevera – Horse for course and pace
4. Seeking the Soul – Now horse at a price

JOHN PRICCI


1. Gun Runner – Undefeated since Dubai, champ goes out in still
2. Sharp Azteca – Unknown @ 9F but fastest early, very game, loves surface
3. West Coast – Sharp new Champ has 4YO upside, versatility, position, pilot
4. Collected -- Brilliant preps since San Antonio laugh-track; cannot ignore


Written by John Pricci

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