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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Monday, February 04, 2008


Notes From a Super Party


GLEN COVE, NY--Feb. 3, 2008

I get as emotional as the next guy at national events; Kentucky Derby, World Series, Super Bowl. A sense of patriotism kind of takes over. But maybe because my government has been playing on my fears for the last eight years, instead of my better nature, Ive become a little cynical. So the over-produced prelude to the game made it seem like Fox was trying too hard.

Giants come out of tunnel dressed in white, old school road whites. Good karma, I thought. But then the pants should be blue, not silver, right? Go Silver? That aint right.

Out come the Patriots. Brady deadly serious. Kick-ass serious. Then he snaps his helmet over his head. Pretty dramatic, pretty cool.

Artists send message as teams take the field. Kanye Nobody Can Do It Better Than Me West under the Giants. Ozzie Osbourne attitude under the Patriots. Pop culture scene set. Good.

Anesthesia on. Microsoft voice commands for Ford vehicles. Pretty clever. Grade: B.

A true patriotic moment. Jordan Sparks, with one of the best versions of our national anthem, nails it. Still shots of servicemen in uniform. Emotional, effective, perspective making.

Plaxico key third down reception. (Wouldnt have another catch until the winning touchdown in the final minute).

Nixon key third down reception. Giants may be outplaying this perfect team.

Audi-Godfather spot. Grade: A.

Giants 3-0. Were not going to beat these guys with field goals.

Nine-minute drive by NY. Parcells is having a pina colada and smiling.

Giants take flag while making bad defensive play, key to 7-3 N.E. lead. Cant make mistakes and beat these guys.

7-3 at half. What did Plaxico know that the rest of the world didnt?

First big key in my mind: Bradshaw stealing the ball back after apparently fumbling it away. Go Mo!

Middle wide open for N.E. start of second half. Probably been open all night. The price you pay for taking Moss away.

Shaq, the jockey, wins photo on Chuck Of Love! Power Ade, take a bow, youre the frontrunner in HRI Ad Derby.

Awfully long time before Belicheat throws red challenge flag. For what, 12th man on the field? Looked half inconclusive to me. Pats keep drive alive on technicality. No justice; no peace.

Belicheat goes for it on 4th and 13?! With this much time remaining? Is he panicking? Does he know the same thing Plaxico knows?

E*Trade kid spit up? Thats it: Grade A. Best of the night.

Welker saved Brady on 2nd & 15 from their own five. Welker having great night.

Coca Cola spot, with Baby Stewie from Family Guy? Excellent visual.

Eli playing the 4th quarter like hes played every fourth quarter for the past month. Good execution. No costly mistakes.

David Tyreeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

E*Trade kid getting creeped out by the clown? Thats it! Retire the trophy. They win easily in what had been to that point uninspiring spots. Advertisers clearly make half-time adjustments work.

Eli having problems throwing the fade virtually all season, lofts beauty to Plaxico.

17-14: Plaxico gets score right. Broadway Burress. What, 23-17? So what? Under is under. And it still took TV an hour to mention it after it was pre-game storyline for almost two weeks. Hello?

Best quote from Foxs McAfee: This is the one Super Bowl loser youll remember. Wish I thought of that.

The Giants must go to coordinator Spagnuolo, convince him that we can build something here, throw money at him, convince him to stay, tell him when Tom retires, the job is his.

Came up with fun headline last week in the event of an unlikely Giants victory: 18--WON.

Heres another: Destiny 17-Dynasty 14.


Written by John Pricci

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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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