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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Friday, November 25, 2016


A Holiday Festivus for the Restovus


Cigar Mile analysis comes via promotional agreement with http://www.123BET.COM. Click here for a handicapping look-in of the other three graded stakes on Aqueduct's HolidayFest program

Race 10 Grade 1 CIGAR MILE 3&UP 1 Mile

2-Economic Model (6-1): Comes up to this nicely off two sharp, graded 7-furlong sprints, showing improvement in both those efforts after adding blinkers. Fresh, has good spacing into this, and stretches to most effective trip to date. Looks set for best go in his second start vs. elders and the first of three Chadsters in the lineup.

7-Connect (5-2): On the sidelines awaiting this since a strong, albeit pluperfect trip, score in the Pa Derby. He turns back to one-turn trip where he was very effective given a similar dynamic back in June. All recent works have been steady and strong and Javier takes the re-ride for Chad, 27% with repeaters and a profitable 28% effective with this type of spacing.

9-Threefiveindia (6-1): Up in class and distance but late developing 3YO has advanced quickly this fall. Game second when compromised by inside trip in 7-furlong Bold Ruler last time, now shifts outside reuniting with winning rider Irad. Suitable pedigree for added trip and Chad a very worthy 32% profitable going sprint to route. Value potential.

1-Anchor Down (2-1): Fastest and most accomplished at today’s trip and skipped the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile awaiting this, preferring the better spacing. Has a worthy (5) 2-1-0 slate in top company at the distance and is reunited with speed ace Jose Ortiz. Looms the speed of the speed but needs alert beginning from the pole.

10-Divining Rod (8-1): Was good second to blowout, loose-on-lead winner Noble Bird in Keeneland’s Lafayette. May be ideally suited shortening up to one-turn mile for super-trainer Delacour, 24% efficient when adding blinkers and a profitable 27% with all 2016 starters. Reunites with Centeno, 2-for-2 aboard this late developing 4YO. Solid price shot.

4-Mylute (30-1):
Finished well after the fact when a fast-finish fourth in 7-furlong Bold Ruler after adding blinkers, showing improved form, and stretches out for Nicks, a profitable 23% when going sprint to route. Cancel has been a favorite local pilot and added today’s furlong suits. Super-exotics factor at a price.

5-Ocean Knight (10-1): Returns at his optimal trip following a tad better-than-even-finish third to Anchor Down in one-turn, one-mile Kelso Handicap last out. Good spacing into this and working well and taking a confident class rise getting a switch to Johnny. Money prospects at early line odds or greater.

For On-the-Record selections, see Saturday's Feature Race Analysis section

Written by John Pricci

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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 http://www.123BET.com

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.

3-THIRSTFORLIFE (8-1)
: 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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