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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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Prevarications as Belmont 150 Approaches

Thoroughbred racing will not become a viable world-brand sport until American horsemen realize and accept that their dependence on raceday medication is slowly yet effectively hastening the sport’s declining popularity.

The need to accept the fact that short-cuts to horsemanship in the name of economic expediency is perilous long term. The rest of the show will go on while American racing becomes less relevant on the world stage.

If racing had a choice of being categorized as a red industry or blue one, the current brand would be colored red. Racing’s 1% would insist on a status quo knee-jerk. The patrician manner in which business is conducted speaks to this.

Understandably, horsemen who work for today’s mega-breeders, owners and partnerships are loathe to put their considerable livelihoods at risk by attempting to play the long game.

And that makes it incumbent on racing’s driving stakeholders, the breeding industry, to insist that the industry really does something that truly benefits the horse, both near and long term.

The Water Hay and Oats grassroots organization, WHOA, continues to grow with new members each week and has made some political progress, but now America needs a big push to propel horse racing’s best interests across the finish line.

Only a united effort by America’s powerful market breeders can do that and without delay. I live in the real world and I don’t see the downside in this. Is more evidence needed to know that Thoroughbred racing has gone global?

The sport has provided all stakeholders with a great lifestyle and an excellent living for some, the rigors of a 365/24/7 schedule notwithstanding. But the world’s elite racing powers, to the East, Middle East and Far East are doing it without raceday medication. Why can’t America?

The industry knows who among them plays the long game; they are among the world’s elite. Most are allies or even friendly competitors who may secretly harbor wishes that we fail. In racing, you either root for or against.

But the way we currently play the game doesn’t make America first, it makes it America alone. Are we to embrace administrative propaganda or acknowledge reality? The American racing industry has a choice.

By joining the world community, wouldn’t it insure that American racing will hold its place at or near the top of a business framework meant to be inclusive, not exclusive?

Right now, major breeders--Winstar Farm comes to mind--are exploring new horizons by making inquiries about introducing new blood into the American gene pool. How can this be a bad thing in the long term?

This issue is much bigger than tribal custom and politics; it’s about the survival of a once-celebrated way of life, a horseracing lifestyle that has become anachronistic in today’s 280-character world.

If the American Thoroughbred industry is to thrive domestically, it needs to play the game globally. And only by adhering to international road signs can this be possible.

The old American model worked; worked beautifully and is still working today. But things change and they change slowly or, to paraphrase, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

Nature is mightier than the computer and it will outlast infrastructure every time. Ignore this fact at your peril.

Like it or not, the world economic order is slowly shifting to the Far East, challenging Western culture as the future center of economic leadership--especially as know-nothing, regressive protectionists call the shots.

Horse racing, and gambling on horse racing, is still an important part of the culture. If the trend is to continue forward, American technology must help advance horse racing’s brand to a younger, wider audience. And the industry must play by international rules.

Horse racing must be branded beyond gambling; a world class sporting and entertainment spectacle.

After decades on the sidelines of self-absorption, today’s youth culture is embracing critical thinking, and that provides great opportunity. Here in America, integrity is the new profligacy. Today’s youth has shown it no will longer suffer lies and hidden agenda.

Millennials are demanding real transparency, not just in-name-only. They are insisting on fact-based truth. Their creed is that actions speak loudest.

At the recently concluded Asian Racing Conference, Chairman Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges put it this way: “We have too many people who try to bend the rules. [Racing] needs a strong commitment to medication-free racing from everybody in the sport…

“It’s an absolute must. There is no room for ambiguity, especially when it comes to prohibited substances – we need absolute hygiene for our brand… If you look at reputation, your whole global brand can collapse very quickly.”

“We have to broaden our fan-base and to do that we clearly have to shift from gaming as the main brand to leisure and entertainment... We have to create a much more emotional connection in order to reach out:

“Jockeys are world class athletes but even old race-goers don't know that their heart-rate goes up to 170 during a race because they see them more as instrumental to gaming; the races, the live events, are a unique platform, and if we look at the world's star horses, how many are known outside of racing?”

At this moment in time, Justify is giving the industry its latest 15 minutes in the world’s collective sports consciousness. Given a new world view, there is a chance to make the moment last.

Thoroughbred Racing’s future has two choices in the aftermath of the Belmont Stakes: The hard work and sacrifice that goes with meaningful reform, or lip-service business as usual. If targeting the future, it’s an easy choice to make.

Written by John Pricci

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

HRI Preakness Consensus Highly Justififed

Justified, the 1-2 early line favorite for the middle leg of Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, has the look of the 1927 Yankees.

The advance odds made Bob Baffert wince at yesterday's post draw presser, the Hall of Famer stating that it surely applies a lot of added pressure.

What Baffert was expecting I not sure because no one can have it both ways.

You cannot confide to your closest associates that the colt is the best he's ever trained, then lower expectations, especially after a favorable post draw.

There are no secrets at the racetrack; who should know that better than a man seeking his seventh win in an American classic.

We wanted to see Derby runner-up Good Magic--his only Derby challenger--back in which he is. But we wanted fast footing this time, which highly likely will not be the prevailing conditions.

Maybe it's a fool's errand for all of them but in horse racing, when it appears on paper that you have one serious rival to beat, you enter and take your chances. Clearly, six brave souls feel that way.

As a gambler, I wanted to beat him, and still do, but in good conscience, logic doesn't support the notion.

Whichever rival decides to test him early likely would be committing race-dynamics suicide. Just is fast and nimble, skips over wet racetracks like an equine Donald Duck, and draws an advantageous post which puts him out in the clear. Again.

By any measure, it looks like Kentucky Derby redux.

Here's what the our staff, and HRI's voice of the people, think:


1. Justify--The best horse gets the type track he loves.
2. Good Magic--The only one with a puncher's chance. Might Chad use the off track as an excuse to scratch?
3. Bravazo--The Coach knows the secrets of the Preakness.
4. Quip--The figure horses were 1-2-3 in the Derby. Looking for a change?


1- Justify should have things his own way here.
2- Good Magic is adapting to quirky Pimlico strip.
3- Quip steps up following two good efforts.
4- Diamond King picks up weight after winning local prep.


1. Justify -- Derby winner one to beat
2. Good Magic -- Brown thinks he has a real shot
3. Lone Sailor -- Trouble in Kentucky, photo in Louisiana
4. Bravazo -- Always be lookin' at Lukas


1. Justify
– Possible lone F and wet track lethal Preakness weapons
2. Good Magic – Thought he handled surface fine; like his gallops
3. Quip – Specifically pointed here and owns explosive TG pattern
4. Lone Sailor – Troubled Derby; inside, switch to Irad, wet, all aid.

Written by John Pricci

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Some Sports Wagering Information re Disparate State Gambling Rules

Following is a Press Release from a gambling site in the U.S. You may find this of interest, hence, it appears below

Now that sports betting has been legalized, there's never been a better time to dive deeper into the most (and least) accepted forms of gambling in the US - and the strange facts that surround them.

Gaming experts PlayUSA have pulled together the definitive list of what weird types of betting are illegal in more states than others, and what the most accepted things are to have a flutter on.

Play today in the USA – what’s keeping you from placing your bets?

New study from game experts PlayUSA finds the complex gambling laws across the United States
Pennsylvania the most accepting state of gambling with 78% of gambling forms legal
UIGEA prohibits online gambling in every state except Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Nevada

The US can be quite strict on gambling. But what games are allowed? What’s keeping the others banned? It can often be tough to work it out.

To shine a light onto the murky laws that can govern our ability to gambling, PlayUSA have created the definitive list of laws that can keep us from placing a bet - whether it's in the casino or online.

State Quirks and Blanket Bans

Each state has its own laws about gambling. But there are both some federal laws that have a big impact across the US, and some unique laws that govern the states where they’re in effect:

UIGEA – The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 prevents online gambling across 46 states. The remaining four are Delaware (the first state to legalize it), New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, though Nevada only allows online poker and only through the main casinos.

No Nevada Lottery – You might think that the state with Las Vegas in it would be one of the most lax when it came to gambling laws, but Nevada is one of only 6 states that don’t have a lottery. It’s actually due to the gambling industry there, who lobby against legislation that would allow it to prevent it from reducing their own market share.

The Bradley Act – The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (or Bradley Act) outlawed sports betting across all of the United States, with a small handful of exceptions, including Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon. In a few other states, state law has allowed companies to begin preparing sports betting with the expectation that federal law might change.

Bingo - Bingo is considered by the American Gaming Association as part of "Charitable Games and Bingo", which are allowed in the majority of states. That’s provided it’s done for charity – commercial games might fall under other laws. Hawaii, Utah, and Tennessee ban it outright (it was legalized in Tennessee briefly in the 1970s before being made illegal again in 1989).

Daily Fantasy Sports – There’s no uniform law as such on DFS, but most of the argument across states is over whether it’s a game of skill or chance. Where it’s been ruled that it’s skill, it’s usually legal by default, and in many places where it’s ruled otherwise, legislation has been introduced trying to make it legal. Even some state governments aren’t clear on whether it’s legal in their state!

Sun, Sea, and Statewide Bans

Hawaii, land of hot weather and sea, has a blanket ban on all forms of gambling. Social gambling between friends is allowed, and some bills have been introduced attempting to legalise both internet gambling and daily fantasy sports, but historically legislation attempting to legalize gambling in the state has been rejected.

The State of Play

While laws covering gambling can be complex in themselves, working out what's legal in your state can be even more confusing.

To see the top, and to see which states have the least gambling acceptance in America, explore the tool on the PlayUSA website.

Written by John Pricci

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