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, November 08, 2007

Gordon Gekko Was Wrong

Arcadia, Ca.--Though much of the racing industry has been concerned with the ominous state of affairs in New York, California is not the land of milk, honey, hay, oats and water it used to be.

While industry leaders in the Golden State have been dancing and spinning around the issue, insiders firmly believe that 2008 will be the last year of racing at Hollywood Park.

Like New York City, and Saratoga, for that matter, they sure love building their condos out West.

Bye Bye Hollywood; Hello High-Rise.

The closure of Hollywood Park would be a disastrous development for the state of the game in California. The same arguments one hears regarding the possible future sale of Aqueduct and its effect on the quality of downstate New York racing applies equally to Southern California.

Horseplayers cannot live by Santa Anita alone.

The Hollywood meet that began yesterday is an important event on the national calendar. Its fall meet alone has helped decide Eclipse championships for both equines and humans; in jockey races when money and riding titles are on the line, or when the Breeders Cup Juvenile events failed to clarify the issue of divisional supremacy.

Hollywood Fall whets the appetite for the prestigious Santa Anita winter meet. The way Belmont Spring sets the stage for Saratoga.

For Southern California, racing at Hollywood Park is no extravagance. But California racing people say they are powerless to erase the graffiti they see on the wall.

As an aside, I wonder how the advocates for privatization of New York racing--you know, making the New York tracks accountable to stockholders--would view the sale of Hollywood Park by Churchill Downs Inc. to the Bay Meadows Land Co. should Hollywood be shuttered in 2009?

And so racing in California is now the favorite to finish a bad second to shareholder value. But what can you expect when a publicly owned horseracing company must value dividends over their primary responsibility, the horse racing business?

So why shouldnt the fate of Hollywood Park be different from the uncertain future faced by the once great American middle class? Just take a good look around this country: How do you like greed now?

Written by John Pricci

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Friday, November 02, 2007

I Luv L.A.

Arcadia, Ca., Nov. 2, 2007--

Its almost Cal Cup weekend. And I try never to miss a Cal Cup weekend!

Dont know Cal Cup? Think Muskrat Ramble--West Coast style.

But I kid Cal Cup. Just think of me as an Equal Opportunity Kidder--Corona, New York style. New York-bred; California-bred. Matters little to me. Love them all. Fair game, all.

Actually, another 36 more days and nights of what passed for weather last weekend at the Jersey Shore and Id go anywhere for a little sunshine.

But the Santa Anas are coming, again, and given recent events, thats big news around here. Not talking good news, either, especially in Orange County, where wildfires continue burning. Thankfully, the latest wind storm wont be as fierce. At least thats what the weather handicappers say.

Throughout the Golden State almost all the fires are out, but not in Orange County. And gusts up to 45 MPH are not to be trifled with, especially with temperatures approaching 90 this weekend.

Lifes crazy. Im in a state where its virtually impossible to smoke anywhere despite air you can see, almost taste. And the worst of the wildfires, down San Diego way, were traced to a boy playing with matches. Such a sad burden, such a young man.

But enough of that. Ill just labor here, in lifes candy store, where a wet track is mans biggest problem and the only bias that exists is on one portion of the track that might be a tad slower than another.

Im very disappointed. Been here nearly 24 hours and no L.A. Joe sightings. Hey, maybe Joe and Zim will be at the races tomorrow. Theres a million-dollar guaranteed pool in the Pick Six. And they love, love, love their Pick Six in L.A. Joe could put Zim in action.

But it looks like the screenwriters are definitely going out on strike. They want a piece of the DVD action. Cant say I blame them. Hope its averted. When I get back East, and the northeast winds begin to blow, I'm gonna need my TV.

Thank heaven Britney is still in the news. Will someone please get the girl a valid drivers license? This is California, people!

In no particular hurry to get back to New York. Unless those megalomaniacs in Albany get their acts together, racing in New York could come to a stop anyway. Happy New Year everybody!

For now, bring on Cushion track! And to all a goodnight.

Written by John Pricci

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Upsets Showcased on Final Saturday of Belmont Fall

Maybe its because theres been a plethora of state-bred feature races at the Belmont fall meet that ends today, but it just seemed that Saturdays Showcase Day program--one of my favorite events of the New York season and generally a great betting program--landed a little flat.

There werent many compelling storylines going in, and not many horses that had your heart racing in anticipation. Of the few there were, most were beaten. Big Truck looked like a promising juvenile for Barclay Tagg, the same man that used this program to showcase (pun intended) Funny Cide five years ago.

The future Derby winner won by a pole. But Big Truck was a no-excuses third to what might be another nice colt, Giant Moon, now 2-for-2 in his career. Trainer Rick Schosberg just continues to roll!

Expect The End, a promising juvenile miss from the Rick Dutrow barn, lived up to her hype, though, drawing away impressively to begin the program. But that might have been as much the failure of surprising post time favorite Meriweather Jessica--no match for the winner when the serious running started at midstretch--as the winners talent.

Or maybe she just made Jessica look bad. We shall see.

Rewrite continues to be a revelation in the filly and mare turf division, benefiting from well timed handling from Garrett Gomez yesterday to turn the tables on her recent conquerors.

Stormin Normandy is a nice sprinter, but he needs to run straight in the lane. He justifiably was disqualified when he bore out leaving the sixteenth pole, impeding Ferocious Fires, placed first following a stewards inquiry.

The centerpiece Empire Classic has a history of upsets and that tradition continued.

Dr. Vs Magic won it for Dominic Galluscio, whose done this kind of upset thing before in the Classic. And its that much sweeter when its with a horse that you breed yourself, making everyone happy. The owners get the lions share of the $250,000 purse; the trainer gets a substantial breeders award in addition to his 10 percent of the purse.

He saddled the 15-1 upsetter wearing his lucky suit, which also won a Classic before.

There was no word, however, on whether Galluscio had it cleaned between starts. Everybody knows you never mess with Mojo. Just put that ensemble back in the closet and wait until next year.

Happy Aqueduct.

Written by John Pricci

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