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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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Even in Tough Times, Racing Fans Remain Passionate

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, November 22, 2016—Time might rob Thoroughbred racing of the number of people who love this sport, whether it be for the love of the horse or the love of a buck. Neither is a bad thing, of course.

But no matter what the future might have in store, no amount of time will ever diminish the passion of true fans who follow the game religiously: Zealots, one and all.

Consider, for instance, the amount of coverage and response the notion that Victor Espinoza was somewhat responsible for California Chrome’s defeat at the hooves of Arrogate in the championship defining Breeders’ Cup Classic.

At the end of the day, I’m as big a fan of aggressive reinsmanship as the next horseplayer. Hell, my favorites growing up were Robert Ussery on the Thoroughbred side and George Sholty in the bike behind a standardbred. Neither was shy when it came to flaunting their animal’s speed.

While, arguably, a little more aggression might have enabled Chrome to possibly steal the race, there is no certainty when it comes to knowing whether that’s true.

An earlier show of speed at headstretch might have opened an insurmountable advantage. But that tack might have taken some additional reserves out of 2016’s most accomplished race horse, too.

Arrogate proved to be the best horse on Classic day and might continue to show the kind of brilliance that could one day land him a berth among the sport’s all-time greats. Obviously, he has much to prove on that score.

But Arrogate spotted Chrome a three-length and a couple of horse paths head start, lowered his body with a sixteenth of a mile remaining, lengthened his stride, and went on and grabbed him, Chrome weakening just a tad in the final strides.

A fair question would be how much more money would bettors liked to have risked on Chrome halfway down the backside, or at headstretch, or approaching midstretch? Before the race, I thought Arrogate could pull off the upset. At the eighth pole, I wasn’t sure he would.

After the race, many ‘Chromies’ were willing to hang Espinoza out to dry. Even his fair-minded trainer wondered out loud what might have happened had Espinoza opened a little more ground.

But Art Sherman, class act that he is, insists that Espinoza will retain the mount. And there’s no reason why he shouldn’t.

One knowing glance at Arrogate should be enough to prove this an animal that will not be intimidated and that his natural ability appears limitless. We’ve written this before but it’s worth going out on a limb once more:

Arrogate’s upside remains enormous at this point. His 2015 history-making stablemate was a great horse and went out and proved it every time, even in defeat. But American Pharoah’s dominance disappeared at the finish line once Espinoza geared him down.

When one looks at Arrogate racing through the wire, the sense is that there’s more there, there; I for one can’t keep my eyes off him even after the race is over. Mike Smith says he doesn’t really get tired and it certainly looks that way.

Sometimes it seems that Bob Baffert doesn’t even know what to think about him. His American Pharoah just finished sweeping the newly-minted Grand Slam. How could another horse possibly be better than that?

It’s impossible to believe that the Juddmonte folks, having quite a bit of pocket money after the Classic, would deny California Chrome a rematch and a chance to write a new chapter in racing history in the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Invitational.

And that’s something that never could have been conjured up back in mid-August.

Yet here we are, and January 28th will be here before you know it: The almost certain 2016 Horse of the Year vs. the certain 2016 three-year-old champion.

Meaningful three-year-old theater beyond the Triple Crown. That’s certainly novel, and it might even be enough to make a few fans out of sports nerds everywhere.

Written by John Pricci

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Going for the Jackpot

Today's Analysis of the G3 Delta Jackpot via Promotional Arrangement. For a handicapping look-in at the other three races forming the guaranteed Pick 4, click on

Delta Downs Race 7: Grade 3 DELTA JACKPOT 2YO 1-1/16 MILES

The Delta Jackpot typically is wide open and, despite the fact some are more accomplished than others, this year’s renewal is no exception. The trip will prove key with talent spread throughout the large field with three major contenders

6-GUNNEVERA (5-2): After winning G2 Saratoga Special at 6-1/2F, pointed toward G1 Breeders’ Futurity at KEE, his two-turn debut, and made solid, very wide turn-rally that brought him within hailing distance of leaders before understandably tiring. Exits that key event freshened and pointed here. Working bullets at GPW base and reunites with Spa partner Javier.

4-OUR STORMIN NORMAN (8-1): After good second in CD debut sprinting, he went two turns in three subsequent starts, all on turf. That worthwhile education resulted in a comprehensive maiden win after adding blinkers for 7F return to dirt at KEE. Sold for three times sire Blame’s average, he owns enough pedigree and Julien to take this; intrigues at early line odds.

8-HOT SEAN (7-2):
Bullet Bob has a player here, a recent SA allowance winner at a two-turn mile following a maiden sprint score. Selling for $550K, five times Flatter’s
average offspring, all sibs have won, including two stakes. Strong recent works and regular partner Padroza along for the ride; obvious live shipper.

2-LINE JUDGE (6-1): Seeking his fourth straight and second around two turns, owns important win over the track, taking the Jean Lafitte, a traditional prep for this. Three of four sibs have won at 2 and all are stakes winners. Will benefit from his last and added sixteenth suits long-winded bottom-side of pedigree.

7-BALANDEEN (10-1):
Following his maiden score at DMR, he shipped into CD to break maiden then stretched out in one-turn mile and finished good second to top prospect McCraken, one of the expected favorites for next week’s G2 Jockey Club at CD. Hartman and Hill a productive hookup.

: Youngster has improved since adding distance, routine for Casse-trained youngsters. Beat recent winner Just Move On following a long drive, benefitting from soft, albeit pressured, fractions. Should also be among the Jockey Club favorites next weekend and Geroux takes the return call.

1-PAT ON THE BACK (15-1):
Talented New York bred won one-turn one-mile Sleepy Hollow over sealed slop at Belmont last out now attempts to win his fourth career race in six starts. Tactical speed, pole, and switch to Albarado all augur well for price shot exotics

See Saturday's Feature Race Analysis for On-the-Record Selections

Written by John Pricci

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Weekend Warrior Analysis for November 12

Today's Weekend Warrior Analysis Courtesy of http://www.123BET.COM


Grade 3 RED SMITH HANDICAP 3 & UP 1-3/8 Miles TURF

A dozen runners were entered overnight but it wasn’t long before it became apparent the marathon would boil down to three prime contenders trained by three grass masters.

Chad Brown saddles early line favorite 8-Wake Forest (8-5), short odds by virtue of the fact he exits five straight Grade 1s—yes, this is much easier—and he’s 1-for-1 at the trip. While he might not be course or distance compromised, a slow pace could make it difficult. However, Javier’s good at adapting to that kind of thing…

Two with upset potential are 7-Messi (5-1) and 11-Danish Dynaformer (5-1).

Messi is on a bounce-rebound pattern, off a lowly rated effort, however—and is laudably versatile; racing on the pace or from off of it. Reuniting with winning rider Edgar Prado, Graham Motion is profitable in graded stakes. Recent works at Fair Hill base very sharp.

Four-year-old Danish Dynaformer, developing nicely for Roger Attfield, has been up against it lately vs. Grade 1 rivals in last two. He does own a win at this level going 12 furlongs so distance a non-issue here. Anytime this barn reaches out for Johnny in New York, you can wager the horse is live.

Most Probable Winner: Wake Forest
Value Players: Danish Dynaformer and Messi

Grade 3 DISCOVERY STAKES Three Year Olds 1-1/8 Miles

Contrarily, this event is a lot deeper than the Red Smith as a half dozen of the 11 entered have a good chance to take this:

1-Adulator (7-2)
will get tested for class here, never having run in a named race. But he’s won or placed in his last four starts vs. older, has tactical speed, Johnny and the pole for Jimmy Jerkens.
3-Gift Box (3-1) when last seen was a good, wide-rally fourth in Arrogate’s track record Travers and previously was second to subsequent Pa Derby winning Connect in the Curlin, coming off a May layup. Regular rider Castellano returns on gray colt who was third in his only Big A prior at 2.
4-Sticksstatelydude (6-1) has two Pricci Energy Ratings that would win this, including a half-length defeat in the Oklahoma Derby last out. Back to Kiaran McLaughlin here following steady stream of CD works; regular partner Joel Rosario takes a return call. Highly likely to be prominent throughout.
5-Governor Malibu (5-1) was a bit disappointed over a wet surface he likes when second in the Empire Classic behind an extremely hard hitting older rival. Despite four placings at the distance, he loves the trip based on performance figures. Rosario stays with ‘Statelydude’ but Joe Bravo wins many races for Clement. Broke maiden by 6 going a mile on this track at 2.
6-Hot Seat (10-1) will be severely tested here after going 2-for-2 at Parx but figures are top notch, Jason Servis, 27% with repeaters, is profitable 30% with shippers. Major talent Antonio Gallardo has taken Big Apple by storm.
7-My Man Sam (8-1) was beaten less than 5 lengths behind Connect in Pa Derby after breaking from post 8 and trailing 12th of 12 virtually throughout. Loves this trip and reunites with Irad, who gets along very well with late-running sophomore.
11-Sunny Ridge (20-1) was a good third in Exaggerator’s Haskell then was eliminated by extremely-wide trip in the Pa Derby. Bottom of super-exotics wakeup possibility.

Most Probable:
Governor Malibu
Value Play: My Man Sam

See Saturday's Feature Race Analysis for on-the-record selections

Written by John Pricci

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