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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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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Wednesday, May 07, 2014


Local Derby Hero Has Tough Trip Home


SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, May 7, 2014—As most everyone knows by now, a funny thing happened to Wildcat Red on his way back from Kentucky: He got stuck in traffic.

Considering that he lives in South Florida, this, in and of itself, is nothing out of the ordinary. But this happened on the highway, long before he got home.

Not unlike the accident seen on national television Tuesday night when a bridge fire caused a six-mile backup in LA, a bridge was involved in Florida, too, and there was ‘Red’ in his van standing there in the heat with nowhere to run.

Fortunately, the talented colt was in good hands, Larry Kelly’s.
‘Laz’, the nickname ‘Turnpike Kelly’ gave him, aka T.J., properly known as Thomas J. Kelly, Racing Hall of Fame, class of 1993, knows something about horses as his father’s long-time assistant.

Remember Plugged Nickle? Remember Storm and Sunshine Test Stakes fans? Larry helped T.J. develop those runners as top assistant. Striking out on his own, Larry developed stakes winners of his own; Roving Minstrel and Night in Reno, among others.

Well, now, he has his own horse transport company and he picked up Wildcat Red in Louisville on his way back from Arlington Park.

Anyway, when a trooper rolled by, Kelly told the trooper he had a Derby horse in the van and was wondering how long the tie up would be.

“Who is he?” asked the trooper. He was told it was Wildcat Red. “I’ll see what I can do,” the trooper said.

About 20 minutes later, here come more troopers, several members of the local sheriff’s department and firemen, too.

Kelly already had opened the second section of the van to give the colt a little more air which was convenient when the firemen came along with a hose to cool the horse down.

“Who is that?” they asked. “It’s Wildcat Red.”

With that, they went back to their cars, grabbed bottle water, some of them grabbing cameras and they topped off ‘Red’s’ water buckets and took pictures.

“We bet on this guy, he was Florida’s Derby horse.”

The commotion attracted a few dozen motorists who got out of their guys to see what was going on. More photos were taken and highlights of the incident wound up on local TV, Palm Beach County News 25.

The message should be clear. The next time you ship your horse by van, you had better call Kelly. He’ll know what to do.

A Filly In The Preakness?

Not so fast my friends.

If it weren’t for second-guessing, poor Ria Antonia would have no direction at all.

Sprinted in Canada early in her career, she went to Jeremiah Englehart in New York. Englehart prepared the scopey filly to go a distance, giving her a run in the Frizette before shipping to Santa Anita where she finished second by a nose, but elevated to first via disqualification in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Easy-raced in her 3-year-old debut, she finished fourth in the G3 Rachel Alexandra behind behemoth Untapable. But before Englehart could ship her to Santa Anita for the Oaks, owners Ron Paolucci and Christopher Dunn sent her to the barn of Bob Baffert.

Paolucci later said he wanted her on the grounds rather than be shipped from place to place, which seemed a contradiction.

Ria Antonia was a good, albeit even-paced second to Fashion Plate after removing blinkers which were back on for the Kentucky Oaks. The filly finished sixth at Churchill but now will have another new home with Tom Amoss, who trains horses for Paolucci.

Amoss will make the final decision on a Preakness run. Paolucci seems to be thinking about the Preakness as a prep before running her back in the Ohio Derby. Hopefully, events will settle down, sanity will prevail and more realistic goals will be set.

Written by John Pricci

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