HRI Featured Writers
HRI Featured Writers

Pricci’s Free Race Analysis

Five days per week, John Pricci will provide analysis of that day's feature race. His long term approach, combining visual interpretation with informed Energy Figures, has resulted in a positive ROI since the feature's inception, from May, 2007 through the latest results.

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.


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.


Bill Finley
Every weekend, and when there is breaking news, Bill Finley or members of the "Harness Racing Update" staff will provide HRI readers with the latest in harness racing information and opinion.


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

Pa. Derby no walkover for California Chrome

Bob Baffert's decision to ship Bayern to the Pennsylvania Derby changes what loomed to be a richly paid workout for California Chrome into a real race. The Kentucky Derby winner will still be odds-on but the possibility of Bayern getting loose on an easy lead as he did in the Haskell adds intrigue to this weekend's most important race.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (13)
3-year-olds in Horse of Year race for a change

Three-year-old males dominate the racing scene most of the year but recently they have fallen off the radar screen when Horse of the Year has been at stake in the fall. It has been seven years since Curlin won the top prize as a 3-year-old. Shared Belief and California Chrome appear poised to break that streak.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (18)

Parx Getting the California Chrome Treatment

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, September 16, 2014----The publicists have been touting this Saturday as the most important day in Pennsylvania racing history, and the truth is that the notion is more fact than fiction.

After all, the Kentucky Derby winner is coming to town to run for a lot of money in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby that on paper is more than a bridge to the Breeders' Cup Classic.

And a Derby winner has never will have run in this event until four days hence. Further, it will be a good spot to find out whether the California Chrome of fall is the same vintage as the California Chrome of spring.

What do you think?


Written by John Pricci | Comments (6)
Kentucky Downs: Horseplayer Nirvana

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, September 14, 2014—According to research by the Horseplayers Association of North America, the handle for the entire Kentucky Downs five-day race meet four years ago failed to reach the $4 million mark.

Two years later, track management instituted major decreases in takeout. Aided by an Instant Racing game that enables the track to offer huge purses, horsemen and horseplayers found their way to the old Dueling Grounds course.

Yesterday, Kentucky Downs set a handle record by booking over $4.2 million in bets on a 10-race card that included four stakes, including the Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Turf Cup. In all, 133 horses were entered overnight.

The old record of $3.5 million-plus was set last year on a 13-race program.

The five-day schedule includes two Saturdays and three Wednesdays, the weekday programs offering better fare than is generally offered at larger venues at midweek.

The short meet makes the product special, as does the fact that all races are run on turf. Last Wednesday, 106 horses ran in 10 races, an average of 10.6 horses per event, a huge modern-day figure at midweek--and that included a rare six-horse field.

A look at the quality on any race day gives it the feel of a poor man’s Keeneland.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (10)

What’s the Better Bet: Horses or Sports?

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, September 12, 2014---Our friends next door in the Garden State New have been making wagering news of late.

What with New Jersey’s fiscal crisis and recent credit downgrade, Governor Chris Christie, coincidentally or not, has decided to roll the dice—those that remain—on sports betting.

Legalizing marijuana would have been far more profitable and probably would have a better chance to be ignored when it comes to the enforcement of federal law.

But the sports leagues lobby is very strong and they are against legalized gambling. The leagues cite the “integrity of the competition” and they correctly figure that the courts will favor the power of corporations over the power to the people.

"Ignoring federal law, rather than working to reform federal standards, is counter to our democratic traditions and inconsistent with the Constitutional values,” Christie wrote when he vetoed proposed sports gambling legislation.

Of course, he’s really no different from most pols. Doesn’t it always work like this? You’re for something until you’re against it but now you’re for it again.

We’re sure legislators from all over the U.S. are shocked to learn there’s gambling going on in the sports world. The hypocrisy from all levels of government to the leagues themselves is as astounding as it is predictable.

For about a month, my local radio sports station, WOFX-980 AM, has been running ads about fantasy football, to the effect that “you don’t have to wait until season’s end to see if you won because there’s a new cash contest every week.”

I guess the authorities figure it’s just like betting on the horses, only with people.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (8)
We’re Not Guests, We’re Customers

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, September 8, 2014--I’m a Bill Shanklin fan and have been for some time. A creative Lexington-based marketer, some of the more inventive ideas I have encountered in this business seems to have originated with him.

This time, however, I think he missed the mark. Oh, he’s correct when he posits that racing needs to cultivate the horseplayer but, if takeout is the issue, his focus is on the wrong type of player.

His idea of the ideal target, the whale, has no incentive to see takeout lowered since the high rates in place ultimately fuel his rebates.

If takeouts were lowered across the board, increased participation would affect the nigh-volume bettor in a more meaningful way because “square money” would be back in play.

Fresh betting capital would allow the deep-pocketed player to make up for smaller rebates because his expertise and bankroll leverage could buy more big-payout pools, especially fueled by carryovers.

Lower takeout, in addition to keeping active players liquid longer, would give way to marketing campaigns that attract new bettors who don’t mind mixing a little intellect with their action.

But until the current customer base is maintained and new ones are created, added liquidity won’t happen, and whales will begin to cannibalize each other, a process already underway.

As this trend continues and grows, when the whale’s perceived edge becomes smaller and smaller, they’ll move on to the next big gambling scheme.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (29)

Owner Enjoying the Ride with Jugette Starter Lady Shadow

By Ken Weingartner

Although he is still relatively new as an owner, Lindsey Rankin understands how rare it is to find a top racehorse. So he is trying to enjoy the ride with Lady Shadow to the fullest.

Lady Shadow is among 22 horses in Wednesday’s $298,100 Jugette for 3-year-old female pacers at the Delaware County Fair in Ohio. The field was divided into three eliminations, from which the top three in each will advance to the same-day final.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)
Meadowlands To Offer Super Hi-5 Jackpot with 8% Takeout

By Darin Zoccali

The Meadowlands is pleased to announce the addition of a new wager to its wagering menu. It is a Super High-Five Jackpot that will be offered with a $.20 cent minimum on the last race of each racing program. The wager will offer an industry low takeout rate of eight-percent (8%) and the pool will be seeded with $10,000 on its first night being offered, Friday November 14th.

“The W.E.G. circuit implemented this wager this past year and it has had great success,” said Director of Racing Operations Darin Zoccali. “The jackpot wager has really caught-on throughout North America and we will take it a step further by implementing an industry low takeout rate of just eight-percent.”

“We are a supporter of the low takeout movement that is currently taking place,” Zoccali added. “But it needs industry-wide support to be successful. We are optimistic that this wager will prove extremely successful and will pave the way to lower takeout wagers in the future.”

The Meadowlands will also give back more each night. “Our carryover will be 25-percent each day as opposed to the standard 45 to 50-percent this wager typically carries,” said Zoccali. “We believe that the low takeout combined with paying out a larger portion of the pool each night will create more handle and larger payouts on a nightly basis. Additionally, the pool will be seeded with $10,000 initially which further reduces actual takeout.”

Meadowlands General Manager and C.E.O. Jason Settelmoir explains that the 8% takeout figure has significant meaning. “Having worked at Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs since 2006, I have become well versed on the ‘casino’ aspect of gaming. The average takeout rate of slot machines or V.L.T.’s throughout the country is 8% and while horse racing is a more intellectual game, the result is the same, more churn and more money in our customers pockets.”

Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural touched on the success the wager has had at Woodbine and Mohawk. “On the two nights they have had mandatory payouts, there was around $2 Million bet. Given that The Meadowlands is the highest handling standardbred signal, tied into an 8% takeout rate, with a mandatory payout on Hambletonian Day, assuming the bet carries over throughout the meet, I am certain it will be the biggest pool in harness racing history.”

The Super High-Five is pending regulatory approval and is scheduled to begin on Friday November 14, 2014. Details on the wager are as follows:

Jackpot Super High-Five Details
$.20 Cent minimum wager
Offered on the last race, each race night
Low takeout rate of eight-percent (8%)
Individual must select the first five (5) finishers in one race in the exact order of finish.

Jackpot Super High-Five Payout:

Single Winning ticket: The entire Jackpot High-5 net pool, plus any previous carryover pool will be paid when there is one and only one winning ticket sold that correctly selects the first five finishers in exact order.

Multiple Winning Tickets: In the event there are multiple tickets sold that correctly select the first five finishers in exact order, 75% of the net daily Jackpot High-5 pool will be distributed to the holders of tickets with the first five finishers in exact order, and 25% of the net daily Jackpot High-5 pool will be carried over to the next scheduled Jackpot High-5 event and added to any existing carryover pool.

No Winning Tickets: In the event there is no ticket sold that correctly selects the first five finishers in exact order, the entire High-5 net pool, plus any previous carryover, will be carried in to the next scheduled Jackpot High-5 event. There is no consolation payout in the Jackpot High-5.

Pool-Seeding: There will be $10,000 added into the pool on the first day of the wager, by The Meadowlands, which will be Friday November 14, 2014.

Mandatory Payout: The entire Jackput High-5 net pool must be paid out on Hambletonian Day, August 8, 2015. The pool can carryover from one calendar year to the next.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Gulfstream Park News & Notes - 9/17

Undefeated Atreides Breezes Easy Half for Likely Run in Indiana Derby
Ohio Derby Winner East Hall Also Probable for Indiana Derby
Wildcat Red Departs to Remington for Run in Oklahoma Derby

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Stonestreet Stables’ Atreides breezed a half-mile in 50.63…


Sep 17 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
GULFSTREAM TODAY 9.14

20-Cent Rainbow 6 Survives A Close Call on Sunday’s Card
Thursday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Pool Guaranteed at $50,000

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 survived a close call Sunday at Gulfstream Park, where any one of eight horses in the 11th race could have taken down…


Sep 15 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Ashley T. Cole (NYB) Quotes

Christophe Clement, winning trainer of Lubash (No. 3): "He's a sound horse and he tries very hard. Junior [Alvarado] has a good relationship with the horse; he knows him inside out. This is fun. This is a very good group of New York-bred turf horses. King Kreesa and Kharafa are always tough."


Sep 14 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Sands Point (G2) Quotes

Cherie DeVaux, assistant to Chad Brown, trainer of winner Ball Dancing (No. 10) and Xcellence (No. 1): "I thought [Ball Dancing] ran great. She settled nicely and made one run. When Joe [Bravo] asked her to run, she quickened. She handled everything perfectly in the race and in the gate."




Sep 14 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
CALIFORNIA CHROME

CALIFORNIA CHROME WORKS SIX FURLONGS IN 1:13.80;
SHIPS TUESDAY FOR RETURN IN PENNSYLVANIA DERBY

CYPRESS, Calif. ---In his final work before he resumes his racing career in the Grade II, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby Sept. 20, 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome…


Sep 14 | Categories: Horse Racing, | Comments (0)
V. E. Day, Wicked Strong work for Jockey Club Gold Cup

ELMONT, N.Y. - With an eye on the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup in two weeks, trainer Jimmy Jerkens had V. E. Day and Wicked Strong breeze over the Belmont Park training track on Saturday.




Sep 13 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Noble Damsel (G3) Quotes

Christophe Clement, winning trainer of Annecdote (No. 6): "It really was no surprise because she had been training so well in the morning. She always showed a great turn of foot. She had been training with a friend of mine in England. It's easy when people find you with that kind of horse."


Sep 13 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
GULFSTREAM TODAY 9.11

Mandatory Payouts of Carryover Pools Yield Huge Payoffs
Super Hi-5 Produces $205,788.70 Bonanza
Multiple Rainbow 6 Ticketholders Cash for $48,407.92 Each
Friday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Pool Guaranteed at $50,000
Valid Lives Up to Favoritism with Victory in Featured Fourth Race

Sep 12 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Daring Dancer, back in top form, returns to Belmont for G2 Sands Point

ELMONT, N.Y. - Daring Dancer, whose lone loss in five starts came at Belmont Park in May, will attempt to pick up her third graded stakes victory when she returns to Belmont for the Grade 2, $500,000 Sands Point on Saturday.




Sep 11 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Gulfstream Park News & Notes

Undefeated Atreides Being Pointed Toward Kelso Handicap
Wildcat Red Set to Go to Remington for Oklahoma Derby
Csaba Back at Gulfstream for Thursday’s Stakes-Quality Feature
Naval Command, My Point Exactly Could be Headed to Keeneland




Sep 11 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Real Courage Quotes

Christophe Clement, winning trainer of Za Approval (No. 4): "He had a great race in the [2013] Breeders' Cup Mile, and then came back and had a pretty good race in the Grade 1 [Kilroe Mile]. He was a bit disappointing after that, and I'm not really sure why. I don't think he likes the heat. Today was…


Sep 8 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Sky Beauty Quotes

Tom Albertrani, winning trainer of Toasting (No. 4): "I think she prefers the one-turn races. We've been experimenting with her; she won both her races at seven-eighths in the past year, but she can go longer. The plan was to take her back off the speed and I think she does better that way. She does…


Sep 8 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)