John Pricci 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, 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, October 21, 2007

Upsets Showcased on Final Saturday of Belmont Fall

Maybe its because theres been a plethora of state-bred feature races at the Belmont fall meet that ends today, but it just seemed that Saturdays Showcase Day program--one of my favorite events of the New York season and generally a great betting program--landed a little flat.

There werent many compelling storylines going in, and not many horses that had your heart racing in anticipation. Of the few there were, most were beaten. Big Truck looked like a promising juvenile for Barclay Tagg, the same man that used this program to showcase (pun intended) Funny Cide five years ago.

The future Derby winner won by a pole. But Big Truck was a no-excuses third to what might be another nice colt, Giant Moon, now 2-for-2 in his career. Trainer Rick Schosberg just continues to roll!

Expect The End, a promising juvenile miss from the Rick Dutrow barn, lived up to her hype, though, drawing away impressively to begin the program. But that might have been as much the failure of surprising post time favorite Meriweather Jessica--no match for the winner when the serious running started at midstretch--as the winners talent.

Or maybe she just made Jessica look bad. We shall see.

Rewrite continues to be a revelation in the filly and mare turf division, benefiting from well timed handling from Garrett Gomez yesterday to turn the tables on her recent conquerors.

Stormin Normandy is a nice sprinter, but he needs to run straight in the lane. He justifiably was disqualified when he bore out leaving the sixteenth pole, impeding Ferocious Fires, placed first following a stewards inquiry.

The centerpiece Empire Classic has a history of upsets and that tradition continued.

Dr. Vs Magic won it for Dominic Galluscio, whose done this kind of upset thing before in the Classic. And its that much sweeter when its with a horse that you breed yourself, making everyone happy. The owners get the lions share of the $250,000 purse; the trainer gets a substantial breeders award in addition to his 10 percent of the purse.

He saddled the 15-1 upsetter wearing his lucky suit, which also won a Classic before.

There was no word, however, on whether Galluscio had it cleaned between starts. Everybody knows you never mess with Mojo. Just put that ensemble back in the closet and wait until next year.

Happy Aqueduct.

Written by John Pricci

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Wait Is Over, Sort Of

Its all over but the waiting and, trust me, its worth the wait.

When 141 horses were pre-entered in Breeders Cup XXIV, all the elements were there, including a Classic field where the winners of the Kentucky Derby and Travers, Preakness and Jockey Club Gold Cup, and the Whitney and Woodward will battle for the title Horse of the Year 2007.

But dont expect Any Given Saturday, Hard Spun or Tiago to roll over when Street Sense, Curlin and Lawyer Ron, respectively, enter the Monmouth Park starting gate. This Classic has the potential to be the best one ever by the time 5:40 rolls around next Saturday evening.

I hate the analogy, but how could it be described any other way: Its War at the Shore.

In all, there will be 11 races over two days, three of them brand new, worth an aggregate $23 million. The event will attract nine hours of national television coverage. ESPN2 will devote two hours to the three new races Friday. ESPN will be on the air from noon Saturday to 7 p.m.

Depending on the broadcast, racings media-starved fans will find out whether too much racing is, well, too much.

My guess is that if you win, it was racing greatest day ever.

Cant get to a TV? No problem. All 11 can be seen on the Internet at and broadcast nationally on radio at HRRN.

A look at the pre-entries with all its first- and second preference permutations is a little weighty at first but, of course, there remains plenty of time to sort it all out.

The next few days will, and should, be spent eliminating the pretenders, researching the unknowns [read Europeans], then wait again, until Tuesday, when final entries are drawn and post positions set.

Then the real eliminating begins.

The fact that the Classic will be a race for the ages is a no-brainer. And its always interesting to see how our best matches up with Europes best on grass or dirt.

Personally, I really havent fallen in love with any filly since, I dont know, Ruffian, Shuvee, Ta Wee, all sentimental favorites. When it comes to racing, guess Im just not a filly guy.

But I am curious about Nashobas Key, the undefeated Californian, ridden by 17-year-old sensation Joe Talamo. I know hes for real. Just want to find out whether shes some feline Lava Man.

Her seven wins are all in California, four on turf, three on synthetics. Not only hasnt she raced outside the Golden State but never has run on legit dirt. Her trainer, Carla Gaines, will saddle her first Breeders Cup runner.

If that doesnt set the racing blood boiling, check your pulse.

Nine days, and counting.

Written by John Pricci

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Are You Ready for Some Thoroughbred Action?

As we await the release of Breeders Cup pre-entries Wednesday, heres an advance look at the betting menu. Interestingly, there will be some new wrinkles.

For the last few weeks, weve been talking a lot at HRI about fractional betting and the various kind of bets offered. And how much, for instance, we like the idea of a 50-Cent Pick Five.

Well, it will be available on both Breeders Cup days, Oct. 26 and 27. And Monmouth Park and the Breeders Cup want you to get engaged early. The bet will commence with the first race each day.

While it wasnt in the literature weve seen, well assume it will be a mandatory payout regardless of the result: 5 winners, 4 winners, etc., etc.

Pick Threes will be rolling throughout both cards from the first race--no indication of what will be offered Wednesday and Thursday at the abbreviated four-day meet--a $1 wager.

There will be two Pick Fours offered each day, also a $1 wager, with the two Pick Fours on Saturday offered on the eight Breeders Cup events. Each Saturday Pick Four will have $2 million guarantee.

The Pick Six will be a $2 minimum each day. There will be a carryover provision for Friday into Saturday, but Saturdays pool will have a mandatory payoff with a $3 million guaranteed pool.

Win, place, show, exacta, trifecta and superfecta wagering will be available on every race. And, yes, the 10-Cent superfecta that has been growing steadily in popularity, will be offered. The other wagers are $2 bets. (We presume that exacta and trifecta boxes and part wheels for $1 will be available).

There will be three special Daily Double wagers combining the three new Breeders Cup races on Friday with three Breeders Cup events on Saturday. The bet has a $1 minimum.

The order for all Breeders Cup races will be set Oct. 17. First post on Friday is 12:30 p.m. First post Saturday is 11:00 a.m.

The first Breeders Cup race on Friday is scheduled for 4:20 p.m. Saturdays first championship event goes at 12:30 p.m. The final race each day, including Saturdays Breeders Cup Classic, is scheduled for 5:35 p.m.

Ready, set

Written by John Pricci

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