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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Friday, March 24, 2017

Skip to the Windows

The following handicapping thumbnail of Saturday's Gulfstream Park feature race courtesy of Read about a brand new product line with new player-friendly price points and combo packages coming after Florida Derby for major circuits on the national racing calendar at

RACE 12: G3 SKIP AWAY 4 & UP 1-1/8 Miles

1 – HY RIVERSIDE (10-1)
Pricci Energy Rating: 88
Game winner of the Sunshine Millions Classic at today’s route then subsequently bounced, chased a strong pace in rapidly run G2 Gulfstream Park Handicap, then prepped by racing needlessly wide in backstretch run of G3 Hooper mile. Stretch-out and pole a big help, but loses Ortiz to Zulu.

2 – FLASHY JEWEL (3-1) PR: 93
Was impressively game taking shorter-stretch 1-1/16-mile Old Hickory after being pressed throughout in his latest. Kenneally is 18% effective with repeaters and this one looms controlling--and possibly lone—speed. Has inside position and stretches to distance at which he’s 1-for-1. Takes catching beneath Bravo.

3 – FEAR THE COWBOY (4-1) PR: 94
Was scratched from recent local stakes awaiting this favorable spot. Last was first rate placing at today’s distance, he likes the game, given (19) 6-5-1 lifetime slate, and a surface lover, too: (4) 2-1-1. Goes very well for Rios; major player and potential value for barn that’s otherworldly 34% effective with shippers.

4 – ZULU (2-1) PR: 92
Second in the G2 Fountain of Youth here at 3 and won restricted Tamarac in GP return in December. Raced wide at critical juncture of rapidly G2 mile last out, losing any chance, now stretches to suitably longer trip over a strip he loves (5) 3-1-0 and gets Ortiz. Logical Todd favorite.

5 – JOSHUA’S COMPRISE (30-1) PR: 73
Two-for-58 lifetime and barn is 0-for-53 at the meet; next.

6 – TEAM COLORS (5-2) PR: 90
Was a good second in last year’s Skip Away and badly needed his recent Hal’s Hope return from an eight-month layup. Jerkens profitable in all relevant categories and an otherworldly 36% going turf to dirt. Switch to Paco may provide perfect speed-battling stalking trip. Very competitive six-horse feature.

For on-the-record selections for this and other feature races, see Saturday's Feature Race Analysis

Written by John Pricci

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Behind Scenes Progress in Santa Anita Boycott Dispute

As far as the Santa Anita Boycott, scheduled for Mar. 23-27, is concerned, there is good news and bad news. But it appears a mini-crisis has been averted.

The bad is that without official backing of the Horseplayers Association of North America, it is highly unlikely that a boycott would be as successful as previous actions leveled against Santa Anita and Churchill Downs in the recent past.

The boycott does have the support of enough big bettors to make a dent, at least, have some negative impact on betting handle.

The good news is that a boycott may not be necessary at all. All the elements are currently in place to correct the poor California rule with respect to the Perfect 6 jackpot carryover, which occurs in the event of one race becoming an “ALL” and there is no perfect ticket.

Jeff Platt, President of HANA, called this morning to bring HRI up to speed about how his organization has been dealing with the issue behind the scenes in the name of political expediency.

After contacting the California Horse Racing Board, Platt was told the first thing he would need to do was to secure the backing of the host track. According to Platt, Santa Anita was on board with the rule change within a matter of days.

Subsequently, Del Mar and Golden Gate also lent their support to a possible amendment.

After getting Santa Anita’s approval, said Platt, he approached, the Thoroughbred Owners of California and horsemen. They, too, agreed in principle to a rule change. All that remained was administrative approval from the state of California.

After speaking with a representative in the state Attorney General’s office, Platt learned that there was an administrative provision in the law which allows the rule to be amended.

Now, it’s all about waiting for California to put that in writing. All parties—mostly the state--want assurances that all legal I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed before an amendment is put in place. No one wants blowback on this.

The thing is that this sounds reasonable if Platt is correct. At this point, it’s logical that horseplayers cool their heels just a tad longer before the industry take a Players First stance. Alas, we all wish to see the proof.

This is a good compromise, providing everyone keeps their word. If they do not, a boycott, with HANA’s future backing, would almost certainly succeed--and that would be a huge stresser for California tracks already having their difficulties.

Written by John Pricci

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Grade 2 at Gulfstream Features Grade 1 Speed

The following handicapping sketch of Saturday's feature race at Gulfstream Park brought to you courtesy of


1 - WHEATFIELD (20-1) Pricci Rating: 99 (at 6F)
Has compiled fine lifetime slate (17) 6-4-3 but lacks experience at this trip and draws the pole while making graded stakes and GP debut; extremely tall order but rates super-exotics consideration.

PR: 92
Jerkens barn presently white hot and is profitable with repeaters and graded stakes runners—a worthy 32% in LAY-2 scenarios. Owns 2-for-3 GP slate, 1-for-9 elsewhere, and was second in two tries at the trip on this track in 2016. Worked very well—fastest of 32 peers week of Mar. 10 but this is very salty spot.

3 – DANESSA AGAIN (30-1) PR: 82
Pace presser is stuck inside vs. faster set here—difficult trip looming. Both lifetime wins came at GP and she’s 1-for-2 at the trip but needs to step up her game considerably to be taken as a serious win threat. Top connects gives her shot at fourth.

4 – MIA TORRI (8-1) PR: 89
Two-for-two since entering the Navarro barn (shocking, I know) and was second in lone start at the CT bullring last fall, her only try in graded company. Likely to be trip sitting beneath Rosario and cannot be easily dismissed despite big step up here.

5 - DEAREST (5-1) PR: 98
Seriously fast and classy sprinter is 4-for-5 on this track and undefeated in two starts at 7F. Returns with winning spacing and Zayas has won thrice aboard Midshipman 4YO. Working brilliantly at GPWest base for Zerpa—59 2/5B fastest of 23 peers that week. Barn is 25% profitable with 90-day layups. Only concern is 123 pounds.

6 - DISTINTA (10-1) PR: 91
Unlucky runnerup in last after dropping far out of early contention, finishing furiously too late to just miss. However, runnerup finishes have been her hallmark but speedy dynamics suits her, as does the switch to Johnny who will look to trip-out. Barboza career 23% profitable with all dirt runners.

7 - MOMENT OF DELIGHT (6-1) PR: 95
Last better than it looked in that she was forced to rush up from the pole to avoid potential speed jam, winning the White Pearl 7F prep for this. Attracts Paco, is capable of stalking from close range, and gets a couple of pounds from the faves. She’s 5-for-14 here, 1-for-6 anywhere else.

8 – CURLIN’S APPROVAL (3-5) PR: 99
The proven class, she shoulders co-highweight seeking consecutive G2s and already is a multiple graded winner. Has conditioning on the cutback--might even be a better one-turn miler type--but returns with relatively short best turning back with faster rivals in intended LaTroienne prep.

See Saturday's Feature Race Analysis for on-the-record selections

Written by John Pricci

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