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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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Their Father’s Hell Will Slowly Go By

We all know the games faults and they never seem to go away yet, every so often, the game makes you proud.

So what if no one really wants to address the medication issue in a meaningful way?

What does it matter that horses are worth more in the breeding shed than they are on the racetrack, even if racing is the reason they were born in the first place?

Since the Breeders Cup Pick Six scandal, Band-Aids were substituted for new software and odds still appear to change while races are run. Its a perception issue and a business issue and nobody cares.

Takeout is too high, dissemination of information too slow.

And so forth and so on.

Then comes the news that Todd Pletchers Belmont Park employees are sending packages and letters to our troops in Iraq and asked the children of Anna House to write letters to be included in those packages.

Anna House is a day care facility on the Belmont backstretch for the children of the grooms and hot-walkers and anyone responsible for the welfare of racehorses on a daily basis. It was built by racetrackers for the children of racetrackers.

And the children wrote the letters and filled those packages with wishes of a safe passage home and thankfulness for helping to keep us safe. The majority of the children are pre-schoolers.

Working in the thoroughbred industry is an arduous and most often frustrating way to earn a living. The competition is fierce. Jealousy, always thisclose to the surface, is palpable.

But when help is needed racetrackers respond, never having to be asked twice.

And they teach the children well.

Written by John Pricci

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

When Pigs Fly

Good suggestion in a piece by Dan Liebman of yesterday.

Liebman explained how Nascar exploded into sports consciousness only after its CEO, Brian France, bundled their biggest events around the country and sold them to television in one huge collective package.

He went on to explain that Frances job was similar to that of a racing marketer in that it took visiting each individual site, in racings case, the racetracks, and convincing them that by taking less for the overall good of the sport, less would eventually mean more at the bottom line.

Wouldnt you know it? It worked out just that way. Now all the major Nascar events are broadcast over the air on the Fox, Turner and ABC/ESPN networks? Resultantly, individual speedways are sharing a smaller piece of a much larger money pool.

Liebman suggests that if racing could come up with a cohesive and comprehensive schedule of the best races from all over the country, a new network could help grow the thoroughbred sport exponentially compared to the largely regional exposure it gets today, Triple Crown and Breeders Cup notwithstanding.

That sure sounds like something that might have a chance to succeed if the tracks could reach some kind of compromise and work together.

Hmmm. I wonder if the tracks could get beyond their own interests, take one for the team, but help themselves in the long term?


Written by John Pricci

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Monday, June 18, 2007

What, No *#@$%^&* Sopranos Now?

Had a great Fathers Day.

The Oklahoma training track, brunch, followed a movie, Hatties fried chicken (best on the planet) then home for dessert; Haagen Dazs coconut-pineapple ice cream--out of mango, I did get a 2-for-$5 courtesy slip, a fair trade, considering mango is that good--with a dollop of Ben N Jerrys chocolate fudge brownie on top. A nice sandwich.

A great Fathers Day indeed, until 9 PM, EDT, that is.

No mob boss of a North Jersey crime family ever again. Tony Soprano will exist only in urban mythology, probably what creator David Chase intended, once the saga went beyond its original 13-week run.

Poor Chase. Everyones mad a him. And for days the New York tabloids fueled the vitriol. A Whacky Ending, said one. Sopranos Whack Fans, said another.

More fans were angrier with Chase than with Carl Nafzger, spouting more epithets than youd hear in an OTB parlor.

Heres my take, hoping to provide some comfort and context:

First, the Sopranos is a work of fiction. Fiction. Even A J realizes that now. Chase has been playing us since episode one. Why should the finale have been different? And is it fair to expect that any episode would be better than the penultimate, maybe televisions best hour ever?

I dont think so.

What did everybody want from Chase, a neat bow? Lifes not like that. What the artist gave us was closure on his leading character, without whom there would not have been such a successful "family" series.

Tony was, for all his malaprops, a complex character. He was clinically depressed. Guess thats one price you pay for being a sociopath.

But he was relatively healthy at the end, having told A Js psychologist about how his own unhappy childhood because I could never please my mudda, he said. She was a difficult woman. Could the Tony of 1999 admit that?

He reconciled with sister Janice, sharing a tender moment as they had a final, loving laugh at Bobby's expense. "If you ever need anything, you know where I am." Remarkable, considering their bone of contention was always about her scheming to get money.

Closure for the Sopranos began when Tony and Carmela learned at the family visit with the Parisis that Meadow would be offered an entry position at a law firm for $175,000. Werent papa and mama just kvelling with pride after hearing that?

Maybe now Meadow can afford to take driving lessons.

Could the old Tony have forgiven Paulie for refusing to be upped? Considering he thought about killing him a few times, I dont think so. More progress. Eventually Paulie agrees.

And the closure and bon ami at Holsteins (best onion rings in Jersey), when A J reiterated to his father the value of making a positive from a negative. Huge progress for A J, considering the place he was in four episodes back.

Now hell probably wind up with an Oscar nomination for Cleaver II, the sequel. On his way, he already drives a BMW.

Do BMWs even have catalytic converters? Hmmm.

Sure looks like the Carm of Journeys small town girl is going back into the spec house business. From the renderings, it looks like the new place is on the water. Probably where she and Tony spent that delightful weekend with Bobby and Janice, right?

Under the boardwalk, out of the sun, under the boardwalk, well be havin some fun

And now Meadow finally finishes double parking, runs toward Holsteins. The man at the counter walks into the mens room (dont know if it had a commode with a box and one of those chain things, you know, perfect for taping guns behind).

Two more guys walk in. The trucker in the booth is getting antsy. Then comes the last two words you'll ever hear before Chase pulls the plug, from Journeys singular, Dont Stop Believing.

Dont Stop. Fade to black.

I won a bet, predicting Tony would live. Including Hard Spun, I went 1-for-2 that weekend.

Life goes on. Tony is alive when last we see him. The tension in that final sequence is what the Sopranos live with for the rest of their lives.

But it might take John from Cincinnati to snap Silvio out of that coma.

Written by John Pricci

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