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.

Most recent entries

Monthly Archives

Syndicate



Friday, July 29, 2016


All-Entrants Look at Spa Saturday Late Pick 4


By John Pricci, exclusively for 123GAMING.com

Comments from July 23 P4 at SARATOGA, notable winners & money finishers



RACE 8 Allowance Optional Claiming 1 Mile INNER TURF


2-Our Way (6-1) ran well in recent salty spots after being victimized by a series of bad trips dating back to January at GP. Has some tactical speed and pole position with switch to Jose Ortiz indicates switch to close-range tactics. (Win: $22.00)
3-Tizzarunner (12-1) was a tough trip second in turf debut this winter, a listed stakes, indicative of confidence from Casse shed. Takes meaningful for barn that’s profitable 21% effective with second-time turfers. (Ex: $150.00)
9-Hockey School (8-1) raced wide following troubled start in last after breaking maiden by open lengths previously over yielding ground. Has five works since his last, switches to Rosario, and bred to improve given today’s two-turn dynamic. (Tri: $1,776)

RACE 9 Allowances 3 & UP 1-1/8 MILES


5-Tale of Verve (12-1)
finally showed some life in last following series of dull efforts. This still requires act of fact even if reuniting with winning pilot Rosario. (Win, 37.40)
4-My Man Sam (8-5) returns from the Triple Crown scene following game placing behind lone quality speed Matt King Coal this winter, following up with wild-horse-finish placing in the Blue Grass and deceptively good horror trip in the Derby. Freshened since, pointed to this meet; best figures and looms formidable favorite despite spotting weight to elders. (Ex: 94.00)

RACE 10 Grade 1 DIANA STAKES F & M 1-1/8 Miles MELLON TURF

6-Dacita (5-1) flashed excellent turn of foot to win G2 New York in final strides, drawing out late. Drops four pounds for this, retains Irad, and enters off series of very sharp drills. T-G pattern very healthy and earned co-high lifetime best on Spa grass in 2015. (Win: 10.20)
7-Recepta (9-2) has been extremely competitive despite spate of tough trips in series of G1s, retains Johnny, is favorable weighted and finally gets away from inside posts which have compromised her position early. Reported training well and is 1-for-1 at Spa. (Ex: 95.50)
9-Rainha Da Bateria (20-1) entered stretch extremely wide in rapid Just A Game, losing all chance, but made up deficit late, closing into wild late pace coming for last of 12. Working bullets recently, attracts Leparoux and has puncher’s chance at big price. (Tri: 1,217.00)

RACE 11 Claiming 3 & UP 1-1/16 Miles INNER TURF

4-Procurement (8-1) has never raced this cheaply for turf ace Maker or anyone else. Javier on a return call. Lacks Spa turf experience and winless in six starts at the distance. (Win: 14.60)
10-Dream Man (6-1) beat similar in Belmont finale, dropdowns notwithstanding, earning excellent performance figures and three of four career wins have come at the trip. Indeed, all recent tries have been competitive and gelded 8YO retains Alvarado. (Ex: 92.50)
======================================================================

SARATOGA LATE PICK 4 JULY, 30, 2016


Reprinted via promotional arragement http://www.123BET.com

RACE 8 ALLOWANCES 1-3/16 MILES MELLON TURF

1-Captain Moss (10-1) comes from sharp score over $50K starters following narrow defeat at this level in prior. Well drawn with tactical speed, has won half his six turf starts and Franco was aboard for three most recent wins. Brilliant work Jul 21; value on early line.
2-Alexahente (20-1) placed gamely in first start for Elizabeth Voss--whose dad always prepped at Delaware before shipping to Spa—beating a next-out winner. Another tactical runner with position; attracts Carmouche.
3-Idiosyncratic (6-1)
finished well after the fact last time out, his first start since 2014, but was away again since April appearance. Chad 27% effective with 90-days+ layups and Irad a profitable 30% for this barn last two months, winning with 4 of last 11 rides.
4-Muhaawer (8-1) has been away since last year’s key event (3 next-out wins) but Kiaran en fuego with many winners coming off layups, validating 23% profitability with 90-days+ returnees. Crisp works at Greentree Center and Santana 1-for-1 for this barn recently.
5-Ray’s The Bar (3-1) showed high promise in first two starts as 2015 juvenile but so far has failed to show added development at 3. Chad 24% in LAY-3 scenario and is reuniting with Javier.
6-Circus Performer (9-2) exits two better-than-it-looks performances at Belmont for Todd—his latest from post 10 on Belmont Inner--earning excellent Pricci Energy Rating. Better position here and returning in Joel's hands.
7-Hunter O’ Riley (8-1) raced as if in need of 3YO debut in first start for Toner after impressing with late-run potential at 2. Barn’s horses improve in second start, gets switch to Recepta’s rider, and showed some affinity for Spa turf in 2015 racing debut.

8-Harpoon (20-1)
was a good second on this course last year but handled only Monmouth claimers successfully in subsequent starts.
9-Bingo Kitten (12-1) made very solid mid-race move from wide post in Churchill spring finale, understandably tiring late off a 5-month layup. Ramsey/Maker team coming alive and Julien taking the return call.
10-Joe Star (12-1) Group 1-placed in Brazil and getting first-Lasix for crafty owner and trainer. Boasts sharp works at SA, then three longer and softer here, including 7-furlong turf breeze around dogs followed by a one-mile conditioner; gets Lezcano.
11-King’s Obsession (20-1), winless since Gulfstream maiden-breaker, finished one-paced at Suffolk, an apparent prep, now makes Spa debut for Sheppard with switch to Geroux following local breeze; intriguing…
12-Tiz Town (12-1) finished well late for third in quickly run turf-route Belmont finale after being beaten by 3-1/2 lengths in CD Grade 3 Louisville ‘Cap. Turn-back in distance suits here, Saez sticks, and owner/trainer won here last week.


RACE 9: Grade 1 VANDERBILT HANDICAP 3&UP 6 FURLONGS


1-Anchor Down (5-2) chased the pace throughout rapidly run G1 Met Mile, placing very gamely behind freaking Frosted. Todd can be deadly with turnbacks but 4YO meets swift group here breaking from the rail. Underlay on early line.
2-Catalina Red (5-1), on bounce-rebound pattern, was used up chasing hot pace in G2 True North last out but is more effective as tactical speedster than on the chase. Good spacing into this, but loses Javier to Respite. Value at early line odds.
3-Delta Bluesman (3-1), the second of three Navarro’s in here (#s 2 & 6), has been showing marked improvement to win last three. Recent MTH work 2nd fastest of 72 peers to work that week. Brilliant talent Jaramillo up from SoFla for the re-ride.
4-A.P. Indian (5-1) comes off consecutive sharp scores going seven-eighths, including G3 Belmont Sprint Championship. Sharp blowout for streaking Delacour barn having career season and Bravo, looking to make it three straight, on board.
5-Holy Boss (9-2) is effective when patiently handled but has proven inconsistent sort. True North third gets Johnny on the re-ride and Asmussen has been live at meet thus far; nicely posted and loves the Spa
6-Chublicious (12-1) is 2-for-2 since barn switch to super trainer Navarro, is well posted with a style suiting today’s dynamics. Hot-riding Gallardo up from Jersey Shore looking for third straight score; price shot off excellent Thoro-Graph figure last out..
7-Requite (12-1) has been freshened and pointed for this coming off career-best score over weaker in GP listed stakes, his 2016 debut. Weaver profitable with this spacing and Javier, second on him over this track in 2015 G2 Amsterdam.
8-All Star Red (20-1) makes mini-turnback to most effective distance but is very ambitiously placed vs. this group.


RACE 10 Grade 2 JIM DANDY STAKES 3YO 1-1/8 MILES


1-Creator (3-1) is versatile and very classy, winning 9-furlong G1 Arkansas Derby and Test of the Champion at a mile and a half, under pluperfect Irad handling. Reported training well but this appears a very likely prep; mixed signals.
2-Laoban (20-1) had fastest recent blowout of 130 peers last week on this surface. Given that, and switch to Jose Ortiz, Guillot appears intent on the lead. Still winless in seven lifetime starts.
3-Mohaymen (9-5) has been freshened since very good fourth place in tough trip Derby try. Training strongly at Greentree Center, rates to have preferred stalking trip off Laoban, getting first run on two high-class rivals.
4-Destin (2-1) just missed, unlucky to lose the Belmont after stalking the pace throughout. Multiple graded winner will appreciate shorter trip here but also is likely to be more interested in using this as a bridge to Travers. Looms favorite’s main rival.
5-Governor Malibu (9-2) has steadily improving PERs since taking state-bred stakes on Aqueduct Inner this winter. Good-finish Peter Pan runnerup was victimized by tough trip in Belmont. Has worked his way—literally—into this race and gets along well with Joel.
6-Race Me Home (15-1) was a good second to Economic Model in listed Easy Goer following maiden score. From mare that’s produced five winners from as many starters and his recent blowout for this 3rd fastest of 130 peers this week through Thursday. Straight forward on both T-G and PER scales; money prospects.


RACE 11 Maiden Claiming F & M 1-16 MILES INNER TURF

1-Smile Big (3-1) never has raced this cheaply for Chad, whose dropdowns have been hot and colt at meet thus far. Showed improved early speed when adding blinkers for MTH finale; drop and switch to Irad for logical, formidable early favorite.
2-Antebellum (9-2) has raced one-paced in three recent starts at this level but Kiaran having freaky Spa, saddling eight winners through Thursday. Profitable on turf and going sprint to route, the switch to Jose Ortiz indicates front-running tack here.
3-Rain in Spain (20-1) gets another free square vs. maidens after being DQ’d following win two back. Kimmel’s horses outrunning their odds this season and is 20% effective in LAY-3 scenario; money prospects at big early line quote.
4-Newcomb (8-1) drops into claimer for the first time for Proctor, a 23% angle, has trained steadily (missing work Jul 19?) at Fair Hill base, and picks up Geroux; Looks live.
5-La Dama de Hierro (30-1) has hit the board only once since Nov. 2014 and has not threatened seriously at high odds recently. Did have tough start vs. state-bred special-weights in season’s debut, however.
6-Bellamy Torch (20-1) was eliminated at the start when dropped to this level in turf debut sprinting. Mott 20% effective with second-time Lasix runners and pedigree says the longer the better. Wake-up potential for long-time clients.
7-Glory to Kitten (5-1) was off slowly in special-weights turf debut, rallied wide into lane (see replay) while finishing well too late. Ramsey/Maker team trying claimers for first time and Julien sticks. Sports two Saratoga works and could vie for favoritism here.
8-Back Road Bellamy (20-1) had some improved speed in second start now drops into claimer for the first time getting big rider switch to Joel. Sharp breeze at Oklahoma TT on Monday and looms potential overlay on early line.
9-Mo’s Ginny (12-1) flashed improved lick when dropped to this level last out before finishing evenly. Albertrani profitable with his maiden claimers and Franco takes the return call. Fits with this kind.
10-Double Dose (4-1) earned top PER when dropped to this level sprinting last out. Todd 25% effective with LAY-3 runners and adding blinkers with Johnny on the re-ride. Spotted well and added distance rates to help chances; strong contender.
11-Globleza (20-1) was outrun in two cheaper sprints at SA now makes Spa and turf debut on the rise for crafty barn profitable with turf debut types, albeit a small sample. Blinkers off and low profile rider adds to intrigue.
12-Dean’s Ticket (30-1) set pressured pace while under wraps, holding gamely for place in Belmont same-level finale. Contessa horses running well at meet and gets Carmouche, losing Irad to Chad runner.
13-AE City Section (20-1) was covered up, shook clear after straightening away into stretch after angling out and finished with a rush late. Six sibs have won grass and gets Javier for effective Bush barn; potential overlay on early line if in.

See Saturday's Feature Race Analysis for On-the-Record selections


Written by John Pricci

Comments (0)

 
 

Friday, July 22, 2016


Saratoga All-Entrants Late P4 Handicapping Skinny


Exclusively for http://www.123BET.com via Promotional Agreement

Comments from Belmont July 16 LATE PICK 4 on winners & exacta finishers
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

RACE 7 MAIDEN SPECIAL WEIGHT 2YO F 6 FURLONGS INNER TURF

7-LULL (5-1), racing without Lasix, also by War Front, is uncoupled Clement newcomer, a barn profitable with first-timers on grass. Attracts Franco but three straight gate works the good news and the bad news. (won, $10.20)
8-ASSCHER (2-1) was totally eliminated by poor start in well-meant debut. Todd 27% with second-timers and Javier takes a return call but pedigree a question mark for us on this surface (2nd, exacta $32.00).

RACE 8 FORBIDDEN APPLE STAKES 1 MILE WIDENER TURF

4-KING KREESA (7-2), another redoubtable state-bred, is 7-time Belmont grass winner with exacta finishes, including 5 wins, in 14 total starts given these dynamics. Might shake free as potential loose leader (won, 6.70).
1-FORCE THE PASS (3-5) was good second behind loose leader and classy miler Obviously in Grade 3 last out and was very willing third in G3 Appleton 4YO debut prior. Big time class relief here and reunites with Johnny; formidable fave. (2nd, exacta 12.00)

RACE 9 $12, 500 CLAIMING 3 & UP 1 MILE


4-POINT HOPE (7-2), blinkers back on for barn that’s recently 4-for-12 in that scenario with two money finishers and switches back to Irad. Barn in slump this meet but class dropper goes for major client; guesswork at short early line odds. (won 16.80)
1-FINDING CANDY (6-1) is 2-for-13 at the trip and 3-for-30 all other distances, reunites with Castellano and goes turf to dirt for barn that’s 16% efficient given that dynamic; looks live in this spot. (2nd, exacta 85.00)

RACE 10 $40,000 MAIDEN CLAIMING F&M 7 FURLONGS WIDENER TURF

5-SUBTLE LADY (7-2) lost rider in season’s debut when dropping to this level now makes second start for Rice, 22% in LAY-2 scenario, and gets switch to Johnny. (won 8.80)
8-ELECTRIFIED (5-2) makes first start in over a year dropping into claimer for first time; barn capable with layups but not particularly well known for successful layup runners; underlay on early line. (2nd, exacta 38.60)
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………....


SATURDAY, JULY 23


RACE 8 Allowance Optional Claiming 1 Mile INNER TURF

1-Wyeth (5-2) was all out to win latest in much improved, albeit perfect trip score going longer following wide trip sprint debut. Worked thrice since latest and Javier takes the return call.
1A-Catapult (5-2) raced greenly for Chad in second start making graded stakes debut following troubled start. Back to proper level for barn 27% efficient with 90 days+ layups and reunites with winning rider Irad Ortiz.
2-Our Way (6-1) ran well in recent salty spots after being victimized by a series of bad trips dating back to January at GP. Has some tactical speed and pole position with switch to Jose Ortiz indicates switch to close-range tactics.
3-Tizzarunner (12-1) was a tough trip second in turf debut this winter, a listed stakes, indicative of confidence from Casse shed. Takes meaningful for barn that’s profitable 21% effective with second-time turfers.
4-Scissors and Tape (15-1) earned improved Pricci Energy Rating in second start following brief freshening. Maker an ace on turf and Leparoux taking the re-ride. Inside draw makes him pace factor here.
5-Gio's Calling (8-1) career best PER came rounding two turns at KEE this spring and gets back to those dynamics today. Three of four sibs own turf wins, reuniting with Luis Saez and T-G pattern is forward-looking.
6-Conquest See Ya (10-1) is uncoupled Casse that has earned highly competitive PERs in three turf starts, his last two in listed stakes. Also notch-dropping and reunites with winning rider Lezcano.
7-Rappel (7-2) showed marked figures improvement going second-time Lasix and first-blinkers in the Manila, his Belmont finale. Lone win came with Franco in the boot, owns highly competitive figures, and was good second on Spa grass last year.
8-Cave Johnson (10-1) is 2-for-5 lifetime on turf, both wins coming at today’s trip. Toner barn’s horses hold their form well and gets switch to Johnny in this spot. Excellent money prospects.
9-Hockey School (8-1) raced wide following troubled start in last after breaking maiden by open lengths previously over yielding ground. Has five works since his last, switches to Rosario, and bred to improve given today’s two-turn dynamic.
10-Jay's Way (20-1) showed much improved speed after adding blinkers last out, Gargan barn profitable going dirt to turf and returning with this type of spacing. Switch to Paco insures aggressive handling from outside slip.
11-Wicked Wink (20-1) is bred to appreciate today’s added distance but showed little in turf debut and is poorly drawn. Lone win from six starts on synthetic surface.


RACE 9 Allowances 3 & UP 1-1/8 MILES

1-Gray Sky (9-2) placed gamely after being pace factor in CD finale and has been toughened by slate of graded stakes. Nicely drawn and weighted returning with five-weeks spacing and reunites with Santana. Appears live off series of recent quick AM drills.
2-Cadeyrn (9-2) hails from Jeremiah Englehart shed, hot in recent weeks and known for longshot productivity at previous Spa meets. Looms controlling speed and switch to Luis Saez augurs well.
3-Conviction (3-1) is 1-for-4 lifetime with somewhat disappointing profile but lone score came rounding two turns at Monmouth, a similar dynamic today. On a favorable Thoro-Graph pattern and highly likely to improve with Todd switching to Johnny.
4-My Man Sam (8-5) returns from the Triple Crown scene following game placing behind lone quality speed Matt King Coal this winter, following up with wild-horse-finish placing in the Blue Grass and deceptively good horror trip in the Derby. Freshened since, pointed to this meet; best figures and looms formidable favorite despite spotting weight to elders.
5-Tale of Verve (12-1) finally showed some life in last following series of dull efforts. This still requires act of fact even if reuniting with winning pilot Rosario.
6-Testosterstone (5-1) beat secondary allowance/optional claiming state-breds in last and was claimed by Chris Englehart. Taps Franco, riding at 24% for barn of late but very tough spot for earning quick return on investment.


RACE 10 Grade 1 DIANA STAKES F & M 1-1/8 Miles MELLON TURF


1-Sandiva (12-1) was freshened and pointed to this, goes well with time between starts, Todd is 28% effective with 90-days+ layups and mare won only start at 9 furlongs. Pole sitting with Franco, she will be in the early mix throughout.
2-Miss Temple City (3-1) talented mare beat males in quick KEE G1 Makers 46 Mile then finished ahead of nine rivals at Ascot. Motion reports all is well since returning but there is 34-day gap in workline at Fair Hill base. Second in 2015 Lake Placid here but this a tough read at short price.
3-Strike Charmer (15-1) was far back behind moderate pace on blistering Belmont course, leaving too much to do in extremely fast late fractions. Two turns figures to help but needs solid pace for her late rally.
4-Wekeela (7-2) was an excellent second to Tepid despite troubled start in 4YO and U.S. debut in G Jenny Wiley then regressed when one-paced in SA’s G1 Gamely behind Illuminant. Trip should suit perfectly with good spacing into this; Javier re-riding formidable early line fave.
5-Mrs McDougal (10-1) finished willingly late for third in that rapid run final-fraction Just A Game now stretches to suitably longer trip switching to Rosario for Spa return where she’s 1-for-1; potential value at early line odds.
6-Dacita (5-1) flashed excellent turn of foot to win G2 New York in final strides, drawing out late. Drops four pounds for this, retains Irad, and enters off series of very sharp drills. T-G pattern very healthy and earned co-high lifetime best on Spa grass in 2015.
7-Recepta (9-2) has been extremely competitive despite spate of tough trips in series of G1s, retains Johnny, is favorable weighted and finally gets away from inside posts which have compromised her position early. Reported training well and is 1-for-1 at Spa.
8-Onus (15-1) her lifetime best on both the PER and T-G scales came at the trip as Laurel 3YO last fall. Had little chance behind slow pace going a mile last time after impressive frontend score in 4YO-debut prior. Meets better but primed for upset beneath J Ortiz.
9-Rainha Da Bateria (20-1) entered stretch extremely wide in rapid Just A Game, losing all chance, but made up deficit late, closing into wild late pace coming for last of 12. Working bullets recently, attracts Leparoux and has puncher’s chance at big price.
10-Isabella Sings (8-1) despite troubled start sprinted away nicely in soft G3 Eatontown prepping for this at Monmouth last out. Paco is 3-for-4 on 4YO filly, only loss by a nose bob, and has the speed to overcome wide draw early. Very competitive Grade 1 renewal.


RACE 11 Claiming 3 & UP 1-1/16 Miles INNER TURF


1-The Imposter (6-1) returns at level of recent claim for barn known for Spa success and gelded 5YO has enough pedigree to stretch out effectively; L Saez aboard for both recent victories. Style should suit today’s dynamics and owns competitive figures on T-G scale.
1a-AE Mr Rosenthal (6-1), winless on dirt, has respectful (28) 5-5-6 slate on today’s surface and picks up Paco for crafty claiming outfit whose trainer is profitable on turf from sizable sample, horses often outrunning their odds.
2-Winter Springs (5-2) Chad apparently giving up dropping this one at least two levels but it’s Saratoga, Irad re-rides, and barn is profitable dropping in with open claimers. Pole sitting with tactical speed; some mixed signals.
3-Aripeka (7-2) is not the soundest 6YO gelding but has plenty of talent, heart, speed figures and versatility. Makes first start at level of Jacobson’s claiming reuniting with winning rider J Ortiz. Worthy rival of ML fave..
4-Procurement (8-1) has never raced this cheaply for turf ace Maker or anyone else. Javier on a return call. Lacks Spa turf experience and winless in six starts at the distance.
5-Street Chief (20-1) has good record on grass, (15) 3-3-1, including one at today’s trip. Has some races that can compete favorable here, attracts Bridgmohan and has money prospects as a price shot.
6-Lure of the South (15-1) has been claimed from six of his last nine starts, going first tie for Steve Klesaris, 23% effective first-time off the claim and profitable with this type of spacing. Attracting Franco, looks live in this spot.
7-Cotton Town (30-1) has never threatened at long odds in all recent starts.
8-Status of Forces (30-1) ditto, as lone recent win came in NL3 over Presque Isle Tapeta. Drops a notch for low percentage outfit whose runners can outperform their odds.
9-Dendrite (20-1) comes off better-than-it-looks turf sprint at Belmont in return to this, winning level. Stretching out, owns a win on this course and a win at today’s trip. Gets weight, attracting promising young apprentice.
10-Dream Man (6-1) beat similar in Belmont finale, dropdowns notwithstanding, earning excellent performance figures and three of four career wins have come at the trip. Indeed, all recent tries have been competitive and gelded 8YO retains Alvarado.
11-Amen Kitten (12-1) dropping out of Arlington Ill-bred stakes, cuts open claiming price in half for local return for Ramsey/Ward team reuniting with Rosario, his only other winning rider over the last two years. Owner drops to win.
12-All Over Me (20-1) drops to level of Morley claim two starts back, is a five-time turf winners, 2-for-3 at the distance, has won on Spa turf and attracts Johnny; puncher’s chance at a price.

See Saturday's Feature Race Analysis for On-the-Record Selections




Written by John Pricci

Comments (0)

 
 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Saratoga 148 Gives Horseman a New Perspective


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., July 19.2016—I’m looking forward to the 148th Saratoga race meet for all the usual reasons. For gamblers, a sojourn to Saratoga Springs is a trip to Horseplayer Nirvana.

First and foremost, the quality of racing there over a sustained period of 40 days has, on balance, no equal in the world of Thoroughbred racing.

Saratoga is the place where racing’s best and brightest congregate—both the four-legged and two-legged varieties—a place to show the world what they’ve got.

For horseplayers, it’s the meet where making a score is conceivable at any moment. Given high quality and extreme competitiveness, the chances of getting value for your betting buck are disproportionately high:

Very good horses can pay off very handsomely, thank you. And Saratoga has the sizable betting pools needed to make all of that possible.

Friday will be only the third opening day we’ve missed in 46 years.

In 2007, we were flying home from Las Vegas after having given birth to idea of HorseRaceInsider.com--a grassroots site for players, giving them a voice and also by acting as the sport’s conscience, daring to speak truth to power.

We missed last year’s opener, too, after having established permanent residency in South Florida. As Ray LaMontagne might sing, this year we’ll be in Saratoga a fortnight, “God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise.”

While there, we expect to give witness to Songbird stretching her speed over 10 furlongs in the Alabama, The following week, we’re hopeful to see a reprise of Nyquist vs Exaggerator vs Creator, classics winners all, in Saratoga’s Derby of Midsummer.

But I have new reason, one I’m hoping will please not only the HRI faithful but horseplayers of every stripe as we bring on board HRI’s first “trackman,” an expert in the art of race-watching and handicapping, who just happens to be a legendary horseman.

He will be stationed at simulcast outposts out West, watching as many races as is possible in one gambling session. Now retired, he will watch races and share what he sees, because no one truly tethered to Thoroughbreds can ever walk away completely.

Besides, retirement savings and social security aren’t enough these days; a man needs to make a score every once in a while. So, what makes this trainer legendary?

For one thing, he’s saddled winners at a high percentage every year from 1969 through 2016, and not always with the best stock. Often far from it. But he campaigned stakes winners, too.

For better or worse, his record in stakes races back in the day put New York winter racing on the map when the inner-track era was in its infancy.

He was the first to realize there was value in purchasing ready-made racehorses off the racetrack and get them to the next level. He did it by going to Canada to buy fresh stock, then to California, hoping to bring those SoCal speedballs back to New York.

Woody Stephens once said of him that he’d rather be on the lead than be President.

For a while, he was a “Trainer to the Stars,” saddling horses for James Caan, Don Rickles, Don Adams and Omar Sharif, among others. His success with those clients was enough to earn him two appearances on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.”

Primarily as a trainer of claimers, he won a handful of New York race meets despite the fact he never had more horses than any of his peers.

One winter he went to Turfway Park with six head and $50,000 for claims and won the training title, setting a record in the process.

He saddled a horse that set stakes records in Northern California, a horse so popular locally that the San Francisco Examiner put its image on the front page, above the fold, the only equine so honored.

Of Simply Majestic, D. Wayne Lukas said at the time he was the best managed racehorse he ever saw.

Whenever a good horse shipped into New York from out of town, he was often called in for consultation.

I could go on about a man I’ve known all my adult life. He was outspoken to a fault, ruffling plenty of feathers.

When he was going through a particularly tough time, he sought counsel of his own and became a close friend of Monsignor Tom Hartman, half of television’s “God Squad” with Rabbi Marc Gellman.

Later, the trainer told me and several close friends that “Father Tom saved my life.”

Parenthetically, the “God Squad” TV program eventually won a Peabody and four Emmys.

The Brooklyn-born trainer now lives in a suburb of San Francisco near his daughter, Gabrielle, and is anxious to get started at HRI.

“This is all very new to me and I’m excited; I’m really looking forward to this.” Then trainer John Parisella added: “This will keep me focused on the game. I still love my horses.”

John’s first Race Watcher’s column, highlighting Saratoga and Del Mar, is tentatively set for Mondays and Fridays beginning July 25, the first Monday of the Saratoga meet.

Written by John Pricci

Comments (25)

 
 

Page 8 of 251 pages « FirstP  <  6 7 8 9 10 >  Last »