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, February 03, 2008


A Not So Super Bet


Its Super Bowl Sunday and, as Andrew Beyer once wrote, we all have a patriotic duty to bet the big game.

I think the Giants can win. But todays rival is not the same-division Cowboys, nor are they a Packers squad that were just as much a surprise to be in the NFC title game as the Giants were back in September.

But footballs take funny bounces.

While in Las Vegas last week, I had a chance to bet the game. Legally. But taking 3.5-to-1 on my money straight-up didnt seem prudent. Even if I set my personal over-under of 2.5--the number I think would attract money on both sides based on how many times I think the Giants can beat the Patriots if they played 10 games.

Of course, no ones beaten those cheaters yet, so I could be wrong about that. Then why not take the 12? Because I really cant read the game.

Even though youve taken the time to visit this web-site, I figure youre probably interested in how Super Bowl XLII might turn out.

[Ed. Note: The good Sisters of St. Joseph drilled those roman numerals into my brain so that I knew that to get to 40, you start with 50 and subtract 10. Dont know why I still know that. Must be an Italian thing].

Unlike thoroughbred racing, everybody who has seen one NFL game is an instant expert. And everyone agrees on what the Giants must do to win: Shrink the game, run the football, harass Brady, and score a lot of points. Youll probably see this again on a graphic around 6:12 this evening.

The one thing I do know is that this will be no 13-10 yawner. But thats all I know. This is a tough read, like I said. Most Super Bowl historical trends favor the Patriots. Most recent betting trends favor the other side.

Normally, recent trends are more dependable. But theres something about this game that heavily favors those teams that have been there. And have won.

No team is hotter than the Giants, given their road playoff run and record 10-game road win streak. As you would expect, they went 9-1 against the spread on the road this year.

Despite remaining perfect, the Pats are a tale of two seasons if efficiency is the measure. They won their first eight games by an average margin of 25.5 points, covering all. Since then theyve been on a 2-8 slide, including the playoffs.

In postseason games, Bill Belicheat is a perfect 12-0 straight up when his team is favored. His 15-3 SU post season mark is an ordinary 9-8-1 ATS.

On the other sideline, Tom Coughlin owns a 6-2 mark ATS as a dog of 11 or more, and a very worthy 9-4-2 ATS against undefeated teams.

Now Im old enough to recall Lombardis Packers, Landrys Cowboys, Nolls Steelers and Walshs Niners. Legitimate dynasties all. But Im not sure any of them were as complete as this current New England group fashioned by this great coach.

And I also remember Starr and Stauback and Bradshaw and Montana, too. Throw in Marino and Im still not sure any could match the skill sets of Tom Brady.

I can see the Giants pulling off a monumental upset; I can see them getting blown out. So Im going to root like hell, enjoy the party, and the new commercial spots. I suggest that you do the same. Go Blue!


Written by John Pricci

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Saturday, February 02, 2008


Strong Saturday Programs Are Everywhere


From coast to coast, weekend warriors are in for a treat, including Kentucky Derby fans always on the lookout for some late developing three-year-olds trying to join the sophomore elite.

Last month at Aqueduct, it was the Count Fleet. Today, its the 1-1/16-miles Whirlaway where beaten Count Fleet favorite Roman Emperor will try to recover some lost prestige for Steve Klesaris and Jeremy Rose. He has speed, the rail, and has worked bullets since the Count Fleet. The interesting horse is Caves Valley. Im sure everyone would like to see where he presently fits. He, too, shipping up from the Delaware valley for Team Trombetta/Pino.

Santa Anitas Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Memorial, at the same distance as the Whirlaway, is weak considering its grade. The colt to follow is Crown of Thorns for Richard Mandella and prominent owner B. Wayne Hughes. Owning the fastest performance figure in the group, hes up in class and distance off a lengthy maiden win at seven furlongs. Indian Sun is on the slow side but tries hard. He finished second to unbeaten El Gato Malo in the G3 San Rafael last time out. The extra sixteenth here figures to help this logical contender.

The G2 Swale sprint at Gulfstream Park might get a couple of three-year-olds on the road to find out. Silver Edition, a game second in the Hutcheson for Wayne Lukas is a logical choice. But most eyes likely will be on Wincat, yet another West Point Stable sophomore that can run. He broke his maiden in very fast time at Philadelphia Park, by nearly seven, widening lengths. Hes the probable favorite for Kairan McLaughlin and Johnny Velazquez.

Two of the best handicap horses in the country will be in action on both coasts. Daaher, who won three straight to end his three-year-old year, including the G1 Cigar Mile, will prep for the $6-million Dubai World Cup in todays Donn at Gulfstream. Hey, it worked for Invasor, so why not this guy? McLaughlin will have him ready to go off the 77-day freshening. It will be interesting to see how talented turf runner Einstein, who does own main track wins, fares at this level on dirt. Trainer Helen Pitts, who doesnt get enough recognition, is 23% effective with second starters following a layoff and 19% when going turf to dirt. Both are profitable scenarios for this outfit.

Today is the day Tiago officially runs out of excuses. Second in the G2 San Fernando in his four-year-old debut, he should be set for this afternoons G1 Strub. The 123-pound highweight has won 3 of 6 at this venue and hes poised for a breakthrough performance this afternoon, especially given todays added ground. Tiago won the G1 Goodwood before finishing fifth in Curlins Classic to end his three-year-old season. Trainer John Sherriffs and Mike Smith are looking for a top effort, as am I. At some point, youve got to deliver on all that promise.


Written by John Pricci

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Thursday, January 31, 2008


A Little Super Help from Your Friends at HRI


While you might not agree with the opinions expressed on their op-ed pages, youve got to love the headline writers at the Post, New Yorks sensational tabloid. I do.

The best part of the device, besides selling the occasional newspaper, is a twisted sense of humor that reflects what the locals might call New York attitude.

Over the years, Ive had my favorites. Headless Body Found In Topless Bar leaps to the perverted minds of most Post fans. Clearly, a classic.

After an underworld figure met an untimely and violent demise, the Post had their cartoonists draw headstones on its front page, accompanied by the headline Gottis Greatest Hits, of course referring to the late capo de tutti capi, a.k.a. Teflon Don, a.k.a. Dapper Don, John Gotti.

Then there was that Sunday one fall when the late Pope John Paul II was a scheduled to make an appearance at a sold out Shea Stadium.

The three major networks seriously considered carrying the Popes speech live that fall afternoon, but ultimately caved in to pressure from their advertisers. Finally they made a decision to go with previously scheduled sports programming. NFL 3, Pope 0.

My newest favorite came Tuesday, the morning after Presidential hopeful Barack Obama received a significant, widely publicized endorsement from a prominent Democratic leader, Ted Kennedy. Bamalot, read the front page headline.

Sports provides plenty of grist for the writers mill. After Eli Manning outplayed legendary Brett Favre in the NFC championships two weeks ago, the Super Bowl QB was captured smiling broadly as he walked off the frozen tundra of Lambeau. You The Mann, the headline read.

So, should the 12-point underdogs pull off the unlikely upset in Sundays Big Game, I have a suggestion. Its neither funny nor irreverent, but does encapsulate the only storyline at hand.

It also should include the use of color; blue and red with white trim: 18-And-Won!


Written by John Pricci

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