HRI Featured Writers
HRI Featured Writers

Pricci’s Free Race Analysis

Whenever his daily work schedule permits, HorseRaceInsider executive editor John Pricci will analyze that day's feature race from a major thoroughbred-racing jurisdiction.

Executive Editor John Pricci
Executive editor John Pricci provides his insights on everything thoroughbred racing. Big horses, big races, politics, it's all here in his " Morning Line " blog and " On the Line " column


Tom Jicha
Tom has been a sports writer, columnist, and an editor at various times throughout a journalistic career that spans more than four decades. His passionate writing and reporting on thoroughbred racing can now be read in his "Ante Post" blog.


Mark Berner
Mark has been a groom, clocker, handicapper, sportswriter, columnist and editor at various times throughout a career that has spanned more than three decades. His reporting and opinions on Thoroughbred racing can now be read on HRI in his "Inside New York" blog


Indulto
Indulto's "Players Up" blog. Taking his nickname from the King Ranch color-bearer of the 1960s, Indulto now devotes his time to advocate for the recreational player and hobbyist, but prefers lower takeout rates for all rather than subsidized rebates for the few.


Robert Earle
Rob Earle is a lifelong horseman, IT whizzkid & racing fanatic, and will be bringing you some industry thoughts in his "Easy as 123Bet" blog.


John Parisella
John Parisella has enjoyed a legendary career as a "horseman's horseman." At last count, he won 27 races with 27 different horses at 27 different tracks. His observations will appear bi-weekly, Mondays and Fridays in his "Parisella At the Races" blog.


Marc Lawrence - On Sports
Marc Lawrence will be contributing his sports handicapping insights and providing college and NFL Best Bets in his " Playbook" blog.
 
 


Latest Columns and Blogs

So Which Is It: Race Results or Body of Work?

Today’s thought started out as a thread on Tom Jicha’s most recent offering where the topic was: Which horse might be this year’s rightful three-year-old champion?

The discussion later talked about the relative merits of the Kentucky Derby vs. the Travers Stakes as to which is the more influential race with respect to end-of-year championship titles.

In TJ’s defense—not that he needs any from me—he did not make up a false equivalency when he talked about how trainers, when met by non-racing fans, are never whether they ever won the Travers.

On this, you don’t have to take Jicha’s word. It’s trainers themselves, when asked as first-time combatants or Derby winners, the first question is always "have you ever won the Kentucky Derby?".

It’s the same for jockeys, that's because there’s nothing quite like it in this country or anywhere in the world. America didn't raid Europe or the Far East in the 1970s when seeking the best livestock, it was the place where most of the best horses in the world are born.

There may be more prestigious races in the world; the Arc de Triomphe, Melbourne Cup, etc., but none with the worldwide cache of the Derby.

And even foreign fans concede that no event is as glitzy and gaudily as packaged for mass consumption. It’s an American fairy tale, that once-in-a-lifetime-in-a-lifetime-of-chance horse race.

In a qualitative sense, the Travers on is a much better horse race because the cream has risen to the top by then. There are the Triple Crown achievers that show up, the Haskell winner, or a late developing phenomenon such as Arrogate.

If Tesio were alive today he’d find the Derby’s timing abhorrent. For three-year-old Thoroughbreds in the spring, a savagely contested mile and a quarter on the first Saturday in May is way too much and way too soon.

But as Confucius often said: It is what it is.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (2)
Industry Powers Need to Lead or Get Out of the Game

I first met Dave Gutfreund at the turn of the Millennium while I was having a cup of coffee at New York City Off-Track-Betting. After three decades as a public handicapper, I wasn’t exactly anxious to meet a colleague who called himself “The Maven.”

Well, my preconceived notions were unfounded, which most such notions are. We met on the NYC-OTB racing channel set in a makeshift studio located just off the paddock at Yonkers Raceway.

Don’t ask.

Anyway, the man wasn’t at all as pretentious as his alter ego would portend. He was hard-working and imaginative, had an excellent opinion borne out by his performance as a public handicapper and later his success on the handicapping-contest circuit.

Gutfreund’s name surfaced online and on social media this weekend when he was asked to comment on the controversy surrounding last week’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, the million-dollar live-money contest staged at Del Mar, Nov. 3-4.

It was alleged that the winner colluded with other players re: the number of entries permitted. Contestants are limited to a maximum of two contest cards. Breeders’ Cup has withheld the winning purse until it concludes its own investigation.

At once, it’s ironic and interesting that uncoupled entries might become as controversial via grandstand machinations as it is viewed inside a racing-office entry box. Could it be that when big money’s at stake, the front side may be no different than the backside?

Gutfreund was asked his opinion: “Let's just say, as gingerly as I can put this, I have absolutely no faith in the people involved making these decisions. Those are some people who, despite my success in horse racing, are the reason I got out of a game I played for 39 years.”


Written by John Pricci | Comments (6)

There’s a universal lesson to be learned from BC Betting Challenge manipulation

The winner of the $300,000 first prize in the Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge made his score by violating the spirit, if not the letter of the rules. He was willing to endure a slap on the wrist punishment to gain the advantage that put him over the top. The same things happen often on the racetrack. Trainers and jockeys are willing to take an edge because the penalties when caught are so lenient they provide no real deterrent.



Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (31)
Del Mar would be ideal for a Thanksgiving weekend BC

Since its expansion to two days, the Breeders' Cup has had to deal with Day One being a work day for most of America. The magnificent renewal at Del Mar offers an ideal opportunity, which I have been championing. Push the BC back to Thanksgiving weekend with Day One on Black Friday when so many Americans do not have to report to work. There are numerous upsides and not one downside I can think of. Also, the handle results at Del Mar settle once and for all that fractional wagering is the present and future of racing. Finally, how about a win-and-you're-in the Kentucky Derby for the BC Juvenile champion.




Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (35)

Marc Lawrence College & Pro Underdog Best Bets NOV 18-19

NC STATE over Wake Forest by 11

Thanks to an offense that tallied a whopping 734 yards, the 6-4 Deacons took care of bowl business with last week’s 64-43 comeback win in Syracuse. The problem is they allowed 621 yards to the Orange on the heels of surrendering 710 yards at Notre Dame the prior week. An even bigger issue is the fact the Demons’ head coach Dave Clawson is 1-15 SU versus .666 or greater foes from Game Five out. It also doesn’t help that Wake is 2-5 ATS in the fi rst of back-to-back homers or that the ‘Pack are 3-0 SUATS in this matchup of late (average score 37-15) as well as 8-1 SU and 7-2 in this series when the Demons arrive off a SUATS win. And though State (7-3, 5-1) is locked into second in the ACC Atlantic, the Wolfpack still reside in the Top 25 and would garner a big bowl payday with a 9-win season. More importantly, their head coach resides in THE CLINCHER: Dave Doeren is 14-2 SU and 12-3-1 ATS away in conference play off a conference game when owning an equal or better record, including 9-0 SU and 8-0-1 from Game Nine out.


Written by Marc Lawrence | Comments (0)
College and Pro Best Bet Upsets NOV 11-12

AUBURN over Georgia by 10

If you’re a fan of good old-fashioned head-knocking football (it’s only an expression… we don’t encourage targeting), then you need to get comfy and watch these two SEC powerhouses go at it on Saturday afternoon on CBS. The stakes are huge: a win for Auburn means the Tigers can position themselves for a winner-take-all contest against Alabama to wear the SEC West crown. Meanwhile, Georgia wants to remain unbeaten and prove they’re still hungry despite clinching the SEC East title last Saturday. With the nation’s best RB tandem in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, it’s no surprise that Georgia is the top team in the nation in Red Zone Offense and No. 3 in 3rd Down Conversion Percentage. The heady play of QB Jake Fromm, though, has enabled the Dawgs to move from a run-heavy attack to a more balanced offense. Still, our ‘As the Noose Tightens’ SMART BOX insists we fade them, especially knowing Georgia HC Kirby Smart is 0-3 ATS as a favorite against avenging foes. The visitors also bring along some bad before-and-after numbers for today’s game, going 0-5 ATS before playing Kentucky and 1-4 ATS after facing South Carolina. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has lost three straight games to the Bulldogs but he excels in today’s role, going 3-0 SUATS at home with a winning record versus undefeated foes. Malzahn is also a nearperfect 7-1 ATS in his last eight tries as a conference home dog of fewer than 13 points. And while Chubb and Michel garner all the headlines for UGA, Auburn’s ‘double-deuce’ offense (averaging over 200 YPG both rushing and passing) is fully capable of trading points with the Dawgs. If you need more ammo to go against No. 1, we offer up THE CLINCHER: The Tigers are 12-2 SU and 11-3 ATS with conference revenge following consecutive wins, including 7-1 SU and 8-0 ATS versus greater than .600 opponents.





Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)

A WINNING HORSEPLAYER’S THREE KEYS: Education, Effort, Effective Money Management

The following was culled from a thread recently posted by a member of the HRI Faithful, Dennis McDonald:

“I was actually getting tired of watching [Breeders' Cup]. So many races. I didn’t cash a ticket for two days until the finish of the Classic was posted official. I ended up catching both days’ doubles and making a hundred-plus when all was said and done.

“I had the exacta picked cold in race 11 (even written down), as well as the 10-cent super box but never placed either bet. My losses were piling up at that point and I opted for a few late doubles keying on Talismanic instead.

“I’m thinking the 10-cent super box in race 11 paid like $250 for a dime. Crazy game. I got my butt kicked for two days but found a door out at the very end of the card. Lucky and glad it is over. Exhausted.”

From one professional handicapper’s frame of reference, this generally is what the game is all about, especially when applied to the Breeders’ Cup betting concept en toto. Many times, in fact, this is exactly what happens.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (20)
I LOVE MY…I LOVE MY…I LOVE MY XBTV

If you watch workouts on the new TGS network, XBTV, some clichés just come to life. Good horses work good and most look good doing it. Some trainers start works from different poles, some preferring horses to gallop out on the their own after the first furlongs beyond the finish line.

Other, like Bob Baffert, want more. He wants strong energy gallop outs, so that some of his five or six furlong works are more like seven-eighths or one mile. Chad Brown, like Tood Pletcher, try to do almost all works in company, making those matchups important.

All this is, of course, fascinating to handicappers. Watching well-shot video is in many ways clocking horses live from a press box but is, of course, easier. You’re focused on one horse where a team of clockers are catching what they can when there are 50 or 60 horses on the track.

They have to know the habits of trainers, what they want, or even the weight of the exercise riders. Most riders are probably in the 130-140 pound range; jockeys 115-120; former rider turned exercise legend Tammy Fox is probably 100 pounds soaking wet.

Workouts, good and bad, are in the eye of the beholder, and it helps to know the horse in question. Generally, is it a generous work horse, or one that has to be asked for its best? Is the workout intended to be for needed fitness or sharpness?

Watching works is part of my Breeders’ Cup preparation for the Tote Busters© Late Pick 4 prodct that we sell and for my own wagering come NOV 3 and 4.

It doesn’t become the be-all and end-all, but it breaks an awful lot of ties, often turning “leans” into strong plays. Mubtaahhij was a recent example of this as he prepared for the Awesome Again, which he won at 3-1. He was the “other Baffert” on the day.

Anyway, below are my impressions through Sunday and the list is far from complete; real life often gets in the way. The times stated are “official” published workouts, the observations are mine. Credit to colleague Mark Berner for Gun Runner’s mile gallop-out after working 6 furlongs in 1:11.80 on OCT 23.

Works are listed in chronological order. Miss dates are missing or may be incorrect, albeit by a day or two either way. Hope this helps:

ARROGATE 9/23: Had some energy but not same monster gallop out pre-Dubai, but head was down aardvark-like on the backside, which is him. 10/10: Improved energy but still lacking that great extension galloping out. 10/16: Pressed workmate in hand, much better extension but not quite all the way back. 10/23: 7F in 1:25.40, showed good energy, needed prompting late but with another improved gallop out…


Written by John Pricci | Comments (7)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Forever Unbridled Holds Off Abel Tasman To Win Longines Distaff

DEL MAR, Calif. (Nov. 3, 2017) – Charles Fipke’s homebred Forever Unbridled ($9.40) swept to the lead coming off the far turn and then held off a late bid from Abel Tasman by a half-length to win the 34th running of the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) for fillies and mares…


Nov 4 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, |
Rainbow 6 Hit at Gulfstream West for $177,500

Sunday’s Late Pick 5 Carryover $19,900

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – Gulfstream Park West’s Rainbow 6 was hit Saturday afternoon for $177,521.

The 20-cent wager had not been hit for 19 consecutive programs before Geh Schnell ($11.20), one of three live tickets in…


Oct 29 | Categories: Gulfstream West, |
SANTA ANITA STABLE NOTES - OCTOBER 28, 2017

AUTUMN MISS MILE SUITABLE FOR MISS SOUTHERN MISS
• COLLECTED AND STELLAR WIND HEADLINE BC BREEZERS
• RACING REMEMBERS BELOVED BEVERLY J. LEWIS
• CARMA HOSTS AFTERCARE AWARENESS DAY ON SUNDAY

MISS SOUTHERN MISS RETURNS TO MILE IN AUTUMN MISS


Oct 29 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, |
RACING RETURNS TO CHURCHILL DOWNS SUNDAY AT 1 P.M.

21-DAY FALL MEET

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017)
– Cooler temperatures and the leaves changing colors signify the return of live horse racing to the Louisville area as Churchill Downs, the historic home of the Kentucky Derby, readies to open its 128th Fall Meet on Sunday,…


Oct 28 | Categories: Churchill Downs, |
Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Reaches $113,131 for Thursday

Tapit Filly My Favorite Gift Impressive Debut Winner
Jockey Jaramillo Enjoys Four-Win Afternoon

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved for the 17th consecutive program Wednesday, growing the carryover jackpot to $113,131.66 for Thursday’s eight-race program.

Oct 26 | Categories: Gulfstream West, |
World Championships

2017 Race Order, Wagering Menu and Guaranteed Pools Announced for World Championships

The Breeders' Cup announced today the official order of races, and guaranteed multi-race wagering pools for the 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Friday, November 3 and Saturday, November…


Oct 26 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, |
Wednesday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Grows to $100,250

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot for Wednesday’s program at Gulfstream Park West swelled to $100,250.35 Sunday when the popular multi-race wager went unsolved for the 16th consecutive program.

Multiple tickets with six winners Sunday returned $9,834.



Oct 24 | Categories: Gulfstream West, |
Breeders Crown

Caviart Ally looks to rebound in Breeders Crown final

Darlinonthebeach 'coming into form'


After letting a lead slip away in her elimination, Caviart Ally will try and be a little less zealous and a lot more powerful down the stretch in Friday’s $500,000…


Oct 24 | Categories: U.S. Trotting Assn., |
Rainbow 6 Grows to $87,000 at Gulfstream West

Sunday’s First Race 1:15 P.M.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – Gulfstream Park West’s Rainbow 6 continues to grow, bringing Sunday’s carryover to $87,606.62.

Multiple tickets with six winners Saturday returned $4.406.20.

First race post for Sunday’s…


Oct 22 | Categories: Gulfstream West, |
Maryland Million Classic Win a ‘Bonus’ for Hometown Juarez

Bonus Points Gives Maryland-Born Jockey Third Win on Card
$150,000 Stakes Highlights ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races’

LAUREL, MD – Jockey Nik Juarez, born and raised an hour north of Laurel Park, put an exclamation point on his three-win afternoon by guiding Three…


Oct 22 | Categories: Laurel, |
Brown, Castellano team up with pair of victories on EmpireShowcase Day

$38K Pick 6 carryover on tap Sunday

ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Chad Brown and Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano teamed up Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park for back-to-back wins on Empire Showcase Day, a unique 11-race all-New York-bred card, including eight stakes races worth…


Oct 22 | Categories: Belmont Park, |
Breeders’ Cup Pre-Entry Announcement

Breeders' Cup Pre-Entry Announcement to be Streamed Live on BreedersCup.com on Wednesday, October 25

Pre-entered fields for the 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be announced via a live stream on http://www.breederscup.com,…


Oct 22 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, |