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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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Talent Throws Brass Hat Into Ring

It sure would be great if the recently returned Brass Hat catches another brass ring this year somewhere along the way. The handicap division could badly use this extraordinary horse.

The injury to Invasor, which rang true and didnt seem like a ploy meant to whisk away the Horse of the Year on two continents to the breeding shed, left a huge void.

It would be great if the popular Lava Man could fill that void, but he never will as long as he remains ineffective outside his home state of California.

Although his connections said theyd keep the rags to riches gelding in California, they seemed to leave the door to Monmouth Park's Breeders Cup Classic slightly ajar.

Maybe the speed favoring nature of the Jersey Shore surface will allow him to perform closer to his best. That would be a good thing.

Brass Hat seems to be a truly remarkable animal, and gave indications right from the start. While he stayed out of the Triple Crown limelight, he did win Derbies in Ohio and Indiana three years ago.

Sidelined with a condylar fracture of the right cannon bone for a year, he returned to win the New Orleans Handicap and Grade 1 Donn last year, winning in 1:47 1/5, a Gulfstream Park track record.

Following a second-place finish in the Dubai World Cup, a second serious injury, a sesamoid fracture, sent him to the sidelines again until last weekend, when he returned with yet another remarkable performance.

Trained by owner Fred Bradleys son, Buff, the six-year-old has indicated to his connections that hes ready for more.

Good for the horse and good for us. Given what hes been through, he's easy to cheer for.

Written by John Pricci

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It’s A White Whale I Say!

Im not really starting racings second season, the championship season, in a good mood. Even with the Saratoga race meet just 15 days away, my passion is being blunted by apathy.

Horseplayers are the ones that have been most disappointing. Fans love to complain about whats wrong with the game. God knows theres much to complain about.

Medication issues, legal and otherwise, lagging technology, poor customer service, and overall product quality, are problems truly worthy of discussion. But then so is the cost of the product.

In the last decade, nationwide handle on horse racing grew from $10 billion to $15 billion annually. But in this millennium, its been flat. Why?

What does business do when sales are slow? It lowers the price, hoping to renew interest by making the product more affordable.

Racing is unique in the sporting world because its enjoyment is derived via fan participation. It is the greatest vehicle for gambling ever invented for the thinking man. So, what does the thinking handicapper do?

Absolutely nothing, if the response to a recent column on this site is any measure.

HRI is a new alternative in this data-driven game. Weve been happy to get five, six, or even more responses to some of the pieces that have appeared on this site.

But last weeks, on the four percent takeout on the Ellis Park Pick Four, got one response. One!

Could it be that no one understands the economics of wagering?

Im no math genius, far from it. But a wager that puts the odds in our favor over the long term, one where track executives and horsemen and legislators from the Commonwealth of Kentucky came together and took a risk for our gain and, ultimately, theirs?

This is a very big deal, and nobody seems to care.

Reaction, any reaction, yeah or nay, was anticipated. It would have been a welcome start to meaningful dialogue between racings considerable uncounted majority and the industry (simulcastors and OTBs dont take attendance). Instead, reaction was next to nothing.

Am I to believe that New Yorkers, for instance, are more interested in who gets the NYRA franchise than the current law that prevents OTBs from taking wagers on the Ellis Park Pick Four?

As if by just showing up the new operators of New York racing are going to put money back into horseplayers pockets?

And where is the racing media on this? Wheres the commentary? Again, yeah or nay, I dont care. But say something. Anything.

Written by John Pricci

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Doubling Your Pleasure Is Double The Fun

I was thinking as I watched Joe Talamo remain cool under fire, allowing the first Grade 1 of his career to come to him, that this could be the golden age of the apprentice.

What are the chances, after all, that a Julien Leparoux and a Joe Talamo would come along one right after the other?

And so Talamo won the Vanity with Nashobas Key, keeping his partner undefeated in five career starts, then the second Grade 1 of his career a few hours later on the unlikely Bilo at the expense of the heralded Surf Cat.

But then everyone was doubling up yesterday.

There was Rick Violette, getting a Grade 1 title for Prioress winner Dream Rush after he won the opener with maiden breaker Sacred Charm, his second impressive debut winner in as many days.

Clinton Potts shipped 3,000 miles and won a pair of graded stakes on the almost washed out Summit of Speed program at Calder, taking the Grade 1 Princess Rooney with Rivers Prayer and the Grade 2 Carry Back with Black Seventeen.

But then everyone was doubling yesterday. Veteran Jean Luc Samyn took the listed Crockadore with Junkanoo Party then went back to back aboard Inside Info. A natural for Samyn, fittingly, a Samyn on the Green double.

Alan Garcia won a pair, getting through inside on the entire field twice; one turf, one dirt. If you missed his first winner at $19, maybe you got his second at $38?

That turf win was for Barclay Tagg, who doubled after juvenile maiden Tale of Ekati graduated impressively in the second race, giving Eibar Coa a sweep of the early double.

And Robbie Albarado doubled, at Calder of all places. But then he probably would follow the four-year-filly Smittys Sunshine anywhere, which would make sense. Yesterday was her sixth straight win.

Written by John Pricci

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