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, May 27, 2014

Time Is Money

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, May 26, 2014--Lesson to be learned by all racetracks and something we’ve been suggesting for three years might have some merit.

With no free money left in the pool but an opportunity to get paid if enough money were bet the day after one bettor scored out for $6.6 million, there might have been other things at play here.

Our suggestion was that all tracks go to a 72-hour entry box, something that horsemen generally do not support, citing scratch rules, legal medication withdrawal times in different states, etc., etc.

Past performances for Monday Rainbow were available late Thursday. Now I realize that Gulfstream Park is now on an abbreviated spring/summer schedule and so it’s not as if the track is on a consecutive five-days-per-week schedule.

But handicappers had two things going for them. They had a full 3-1/2 days to work on a very difficult, full-field sequence and they had something to look forward to.

So Monday came and there was no free money to win, yet horseplayers, having done their handicapping homework, wagered over $779,000 on a day when all the big guys, and many “big horses,” were in action.

Give players time to do their homework and they will respond with their dollars. And the fractional wagering provision provided an opportunity to optimize the play by purchasing a greater number of horses to fill the sequence.

It’s in the best interests of all racetracks to go to a 72-hour entry box so as to provide one of the most important commodities to playing customers in the modern era: Time to do the work.

Having done the work and having invested heavily into the Rainbow 6 market doubtlessly helped increase handle in the subsequent 50-Cent Pick 5 and Pick 4 pools, players either optimizing or hedging their Rainbow 6 positions.

Brain surgery this is not. Just give the players the services they need to succeed and hold it on a holiday. Clearly, moving the mandatory payout to a high profile holiday was a good decision.

So is the one calling for a mandatory payout at the end of every month.

Jackpot-less Memorial Day Mandatory Payout No Small Consolation

One day after the largest parimutuel payoff in this history was won by a single player, 48 people won $12,796.04 each, which is highly likely is better for the game.

Monday’s payoff is attainable virtually any day a Pick 6 is offered anywhere. Sunday’s payoff was nearly five months in the making.

The 50-Cent Pick 5 did have a small carryover and that sequence, which also pays simultaneous Pick 4 consolations, returned a generous $2,598.15.

When racing resumes at Gulfstream Friday, the Rainbow 6 will be seeded with $50,000.

Written by John Pricci

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Palm Beach Bettor Hits Rainbow 6 Jackpot for Record $6,678,939.12 Payoff

By Ed Gray, Gulfstream Park Press Staff

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – One lucky 20-cent Rainbow 6 bettor in Palm Beach really hit the jackpot at Gulfstream Park Sunday, cashing for a record $6,678,939.12.

Longtime Thoroughbred owner Daniel Borislow took down the lucrative payoff with a multi-combination ticket that cost $7,603.20. The ticket included all runners in the third, fourth and fifth races, only the No. 1 and the No 4 horses in the sixth race, and all runners in the seventh and eighth races.

“I’ve been one of the larger bettors for a period of years,” Borislow said. “I guess, probably, I’ve gotten good at it. I really liked that race (the sixth race) and I keyed that race and it worked out well.”

The winner held the only ticket with all of the winners in the popular multi-race wager’s six-race sequence that spanned Race 3 through Race 8. Heading into the final race, there were 19 tickets alive, but only six unique tickets with the chance to take down the entire jackpot, covering the Nos. 2, 3, 5, 9, 10 and 12.

Callana, the No. 5 horse ridden by Ramsey Zimmerman, won the race and the record payoff for the Palm Beach bettor by a nose in a three-horse photo that included two runners, No. 11 Russian Night and No. 7 Starship Sassy, who were on multiple live tickets and would not have produced a whole-pool payoff with a win.

The $6.6 million payoff came on the day before a mandatory payout of the entire pool was scheduled for Monday’s Memorial Day card. It was projected that the Rainbow 6 pool could have reached $16 million.

“First of all I want to congratulate today’s winner. We designed the Rainbow 6 to be a life-changing wager,” Gulfstream Park President Tim Ritvo said. “We’re disappointed like everyone else that we didn’t have the chance to see how high the pool could have gone with a mandatory payout on Monday, but this also proves that you never know when someone will get lucky and hit it.”

Rainbow 6 wagering will resume Monday with a mandatory payoff of the entire pool as scheduled. There is also a $44,011 carryover in the 50-cent Pick-5 wager Monday. On Friday, the Rainbow 6 pool will be seeded with $50,000.

Sunday’s winning combination of 1-8-6-1-6-5 included no winning favorites. Bagration ($35.80) started off the record payoff in the third, followed by Cajun Breeze ($22.60), Little Bart ($12.80), Signofaffection ($10.40), Cajun Sunrise ($9.60) and Callana ($12.80).

The record single payout to a Rainbow 6 winner was $3,591,245.44, which occurred on Feb. 22, 2013, when a bettor in New Jersey took down the jackpot.

Written by John Pricci

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Friday, May 16, 2014

All Aboard Chrome Bandwagon…but on the other hoof

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NT, May 16, 2014—When trying to determine how the bettors will react once the Preakness betting windows in advance of 6:18 p.m. Saturday evening, it’s instructive to review historical events.

No, not Preakness history; Kentucky Derby history.

What is interesting to note is that in an online poll of horseplayers pre-Kentucky Derby, the population zeroed in on the three horses that were gaining the most attention at that time: California Chrome, Wicked Strong and Danza.

California Chrome attracted 32% of the responders, believing California Chrome would repeat his Santa Anita Derby effort in Louisville. In odds-speak, 32% translates into 2-1, which was his price until someone(s) plunked a million dollars down on Candy Boy at the last minute. The colt won, of course, returning $7.

Danza attracted 9% of the population, a fact that translated into post time odds of 8.70-1. In bookmaking terms, 9% of the play is 10-1 on the tote board. But this is close enough.

Eight percent of the population believed Wicked Strong would win. That’s 11-1 by definition, but he was more highly fancied by the sharps and went off at 6.50-1.

And this is instructive how?

When the odds-maker announced early line odds of 3-5 on Wednesday evening’s Preakness post draw, there were gasps from those in attendance--not fans but the connections of 10 Preakness horses and assembled media.

That’s an unusually low odds quote for such a high profile event but I surmised the guesstimate would be just right when the horses leave the barrier at Old Hilltop.

If it weren’t for the blister distraction, the odds might even have been lower. A Preakness poll was taken and at the time of the draw, 84% of the responders thought California Chrome would repeat in Baltimore, the pollsters making him closer to 1-5 that 3-5.

Bandwagons fill up fast in this game but they can empty out just as quickly.

On its face, there’s nothing wrong with slip #3 in a 10-horse field at Pimlico, but It could spell trouble for the Derby winner even assuming a clean start which is not a given in his case. Leftover moisture from the two or three inches of rain expected Friday is another bothersome detail.

And then there’s the blister. I do not believe it is anything serious, but I seemed to have displaced my DVM shingle. I will take the connections at their word; if handicappers don’t play the game “honestly” they have less chance to succeed than usual. Conspiracies kill.

But here’s bothersome detail #3. It was there pre-Derby, was treated, disappeared, but now has resurfaced. Stress is not good for any living organism, human or equine.

Horses run through issues every day, the preponderance of those a lot more debilitating than having a tickle in your throat. Yeah, it’s no big deal, but it’s there.

A glycerin mixture will treat the problem, like it did before the Derby. Here’s a tip for the connections: Google Manuka honey.

I made a comment below Tom Jicha’s Preakness post that I will be using California Chrome in a saver role but losing him in my serious wagers. And there’s always the emotional hedge, too. If he wins, it will be much more fun when we do this again on Long Island.

Ride On Curlin’s trip got all the attention in the Derby, deservedly so. But his rider won the Derby thrice doing the exact same thing, and all of a sudden Hall of Famer Calvin Borel is some kind of bum.

As if it was his fault that a horse stopped in his face.

The quasi-hidden tough trip was General A Rod’s, who steadied after racing between horses in the 3-path most of the backstretch run. It wasn’t bad but it happened at a bad time.

He had run in the stretch but his progress was impeded twice, with absolutely nowhere to go in the last 70 yards. Javier rode him great in Florida and he’s back aboard today.

The interesting thing about Kid Cruz, the fact he is the only entrant with a race over the track—a winning one of that—notwithstanding, is that his best figure is competitive with the favorite, and he’s never taken a backward step.

We’ll come up with a Preakness betting strategy in Saturday’s Feature Race Analysis. Please don’t touch that cursor.

Written by John Pricci

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