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

It’s never on Sunday for Gulfstream stakes


Florida (and other jurisdictions) once had high hopes that Sunday would become the equal of Saturday in drawing fans to the track. It hasn't happened. Gulfstream is giving up on forcing the issue. Its winter stakes schedule--67 races, 37 graded--doesn't include a single Sunday stakes.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (16)
Arlington Million could be nearing the finish line

A million dollar purse no longer carries the cachet it once did. Saturday's Arlington Million, once an eagerly sought prize on both sides of the Atlantic, attracted only seven entrants. With bottom-line obsessed Churchill Downs Inc. calling the shots, this might be all the excuse needed to shut down what once was the biggest post-Triple Crown event of the year.



Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (17)

A Sport in Conflict with Itself: Policing vs Promoting

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, August 13, 2014--The approach that can help insure racing’s survival might have been outlined two years ago when Travis Tygart, the CEO and Counsel to the United States Anti-Doping Agency, was invited to speak at the annual Jockey Club Round Table conference here.

That day Tygart’s message reached many of the industry’s most influential stakeholders and, intertwined with Senate investigations into a spate of equine injuries and fatalities, the idea of federal regulation was introduced.

What everybody thought they knew then, and still believes, is that federal legislation can’t work because individual states control racing’s rules and regulations and there’s no realistic chance that the status quo would ever change.

Horsemen’s groups cite the progress being made on the medication front. Matters like these take time, they say. The issue is highly charged and has become political as proponents and opponents have dug in their heels.

And the wheels of politics grind very slowly, if and when they grind at all.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (3)
L’Affaire Martin: Del Mar Wants It Both Ways

SARATOGA SPRINGS, July 15, 2014—This time, it was the other, silent member of “Dumb Ass Partners,” Perry Martin, who jumped ugly on the subject of dual Classics winner and 2014 Horse of the Year co-favorite, California Chrome.

Yes, this is the same man that blew off the Preakness in a fit of Derby pique and who recently raked Del Mar over the coals for having the temerity to suggest that “America’s Horse” be honored with a parade between races on Pacific Classic day.

The story has been told in different precincts and in disparate versions and there seems to be enough “blame” to go around about a much-ado-about-very-little incident that became front page racing news because Kentucky Derby winners always are.

And that’s especially true this time when the Derby-Preakness winner’s story didn’t end on the sand and loam of Belmont Park but rather on the front page of national and network media after Steve Coburn’s meltdown following Chrome’s crushing Triple Crown defeat.

Finally, with his wife at his side like some politician who got his business caught in some cookie’s jar, Coburn, after doubling down on his post-Belmont rant the following day, made a humbling, tearful apology before a network audience the day after that. It was a case of all's well that ends.

If anything, Coburn’s knee jerk tirade and Martin’s insensitivity indicates that it just might be harder for connections of any good horse to hold their best form for over two months than it is for their equine athletes. Clearly, it was time for a badly needed freshening.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (8)

E.L. Titan Hopes to Loom Large

By Ken Weingartner

Stakes-winner E L Titan has been absent from the Grand Circuit this season, but that is soon to change.

The 3-year-old male trotter, who won three of five starts last season, including divisions of the International Stallion Stakes and Madison County, made his 2014 debut earlier this month and is getting ready for the Simcoe Stakes and Canadian Trotting Classic, both at Mohawk Racetrack.

Riina Rekila, who trains E L Titan for breeder/owner Erkki Laakkonen, qualified E L Titan on July 4 at Mohawk, where he won in 1:57.4, but didn’t see the colt make his first start until Aug. 9, when he was victorious by 4-1/2 lengths in 1:54.2 in a conditioned race at Mohawk.


Written by Publisher | Comments (0)
Father Patrick Ready to Roll Again

By Ken Weingartner

Three-year-old trotter Father Patrick is ready to get back to action Sunday in a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes at Tioga Downs in New York, looking to return to his winning ways after going off stride in the Hambletonian, snapping a 15-race unbeaten streak.

His driver, Yannick Gingras, is ready too.

“Win or lose, I’d always be looking forward to getting back on the track with him,” Gingras said. “He’s a great horse. He’s provided me with great thrills so far, and I’m sure there are plenty more to come.

“I’m looking forward to showing everybody what a great horse he is.”

Father Patrick’s return is part of a card that features 10 Tompkins-Geers divisions for trotters and pacers. Among the horses competing Sunday are 3-year-old male pacer JK Endofanera, who earlier this year won the North America Cup, and multiple stakes-winning 3-year-old female pacers Precocious Beauty and Uffizi Hanover.

Trained by Jimmy Takter, Father Patrick has won 16 of 18 career races and $1.26 million. He was the Hambletonian favorite, but drew post No. 10 – the outermost spot on the gate at the Meadowlands Racetrack – and went off stride at the start.

The million-dollar race was won by Trixton, another colt from the Takter Stable, with Takter himself in the sulky.

“I scored (Father Patrick) down pretty hard because I’ve never left with him before,” Gingras said after the race. “I wanted him to pay attention and be ready for (the start). The gate opened and I touched him on the tail with the whip and he took off running. It’s so unfortunate. Knock on wood, I’ll have another chance. But he never will.”

Gingras, who leads all harness racing drivers in purses with $7.23 million this year, won five stakes races on Hambletonian Day. But he still had difficulty feeling upbeat.

“It was a great day, but I still went home and was very disappointed,” Gingras said. “When you focus on a race for so long, that’s what makes it such a disappointment. There are only a couple million-dollar races and I haven’t won one yet. That day had it all – the million dollars, the Hambletonian, Father Patrick and everything he’s accomplished. It was such a downer. Even though I had a great day, I didn’t feel like celebrating.

“I do still think about it. It’s a race I’ll always want to take back, but you’ve got to live with it now at this point.”

Father Patrick races Sunday in the second of two Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters. His split also includes Datsyuk, who finished sixth in the Hambletonian.

“They said he came out of the (Hambletonian) fine and he trained back good,” Gingras said about Father Patrick. “That was to be expected. There’s nothing wrong with him, so I’m sure he’ll be ready to go on Sunday.”

The first of the Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters includes Dexter Cup winner Sumatra and Hambletonian fifth-place-finisher Resolve, a colt trained by Takter’s daughter, Nancy Johansson.

Precocious Beauty, who was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female pacer, and Uffizi Hanover meet in the sole Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old female pacers. Precocious Beauty is coming off a win in the Empire Breeders Classic on Sunday at Tioga.

The Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old male pacers includes not only JK Endofanera, but Sweet Rock, who won the New Jersey Classic at odds of 92-1 on Hambletonian Day, and New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Doo Wop Hanover.

Among the 2-year-old female trotters in action is Jolene Jolene, who finished second in the Merrie Annabelle Stakes.

“There are a lot of nice horses racing there, that’s for sure,” Gingras said.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)

Travers and the Championship: A Mystery-Wrapped Enigma

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, August 21, 2014—Could it be that a victory in a race over a synthetic surface by a synthetic-track specialist could turn the result of Saturday’s Travers Stakes over on its hindquarters?

That likely would be the case if Shared Interest draws older horse-first blood by beating, among others, the redoubtable Game On Dude, even if he has lost a step or two, or three, to age.

Mike Smith, who’s been abiding by the Dude the past few years but will abandon him on Sunday when he takes a seat aboard the invincible, thus far unbeatable Shared Belief, is not ready to concede that the old boy is done.

When he’s alowed to get into his speedy rhythm early and dominate the front end of any race, he’s near unbeatable, Smith said, before delivering the best line of Tuesday’s NTRA national teleconference.

“[Game On Dude] might not be as good as he once was, but he can be as good as he was once.” But push came to shove, Smith deciding that youth will be served.

Mike’s been very helpful with Game on Dude, Bob Baffert was saying, adding that Smith is one of those riders that can tell you something about a horse you might not have known before.

“I rode him all wrong,” Smith would tell you, Baffert explaining how a certain horse might want to do something one way while the rider wanted to do something else. Gary Stevens is the same, he said.

Smith said that the one trait Shared Belief had form one ride on the colt was that he was extremely well balanced, that he allow the rider to do virtually anything he wants, that he's very agile.

“It was an easy decision to make, one horse is three and the future is ahead of him. "[Game On Dude] has some good races left in him but he’s probably not going to get any better.”


Written by John Pricci | Comments (2)
Oh Baby

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y., August 8, 2014—Here it is, the fourth Saturday of Saratoga 151, and I’m already looking passed it, awaiting Sunday’s juvenile stakes doubleheader.

Maybe that’s because the Grade 2 Saratoga Special attracted 11 entrants. Given the state of two-year-old racing around here for the past decade, Sunday’s field is almost twice the norm.

The ladies will go first on Sunday’s national television broadcast on Fox in the Grade 2 Adirondack at 6-1/2 furlongs and we’re pleased that both stakes will be run at this hybrid distance.

Instead of a speedway to graded heaven, what this trip should provide is a more meaningful perspective on the future; the longer races of Fall leading up to a national championship. Not many races are stolen at this distance.

A cursory look a past performances indicates, to us at least, there are two fillies that just might be extraordinary, casting no aspersions on the other talented fillies in the group.

I don’t want to make comparisons with filly debuts past, but can I have to say this; that I’ve not been this impressed with a first-time starter since, well, Moccasin, or Ruffian. Please—not making comparisons with either one; that would be crazy.

But I don’t think I’ve seen a filly win as easily as Wonder Gal did in the modern era. The New York-bred, by juvenile buzz sire of the season, Tiz Wonderful, made her debut in the restricted Lynbook Stakes against four overmatched rivals.

I didn’t know those fillies were overmatched at the time, although the fact Wodner Gal was postward at 4-5 was a pretty good indication.

Debut types often win by big margins, and the 14 lengths thatseparated her from runnerup Accelebrate was huge by any measure. But this was no runoff wire job; this was a professional hit.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (5)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Better Talk Now Quotes

Brian Lynch, winning trainer of Heart to Heart (No. 2): "You're getting to the end of the season, so there's not many straight 3-year-old races, especially at a mile on the turf. His race at Keeneland was very impressive, and then we chased the Queen's Plate a little bit. I think he really runs the turns…


Aug 21 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Quotes from the draw for the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers

Dallas Stewart, trainer of Commanding Curve (No. 1, 15-1):
About his reputation as a stretch runner: "That's his style. He's got the one hole. He's doing very well. I got my main man, Pedro Velez. He's a little different of an exercise rider than the last guy who was galloping him. He's more of…


Aug 20 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Tonalist, Wicked Strong tangle again in Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Grade 1 winners Tonalist and Wicked Strong will renew their budding rivalry on racing's biggest summer stage, joined by fellow Grade 1 heroes Bayern and Mr Speaker among 10 horses set to gather for the 145th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes on Saturday at…


Aug 20 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Sword Dancer Invitational (G1) Quotes

H. Graham Motion, trainer of winner Main Sequence (No. 4):"That was worrying. But when they went so quick, I felt a lot better. [Jockey] Rajiv [Maragh] did a great job. I told him if he doesn't break don't worry about it, and that's what he did. [Breaking slowly] has been his trait all along. I talked…


Aug 18 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Alydar Quotes

Kiaran McLaughlin, winning trainer of Farhaan (No. 3) and beaten favorite and third-place finisher Alpha (No. 1): "We thought Alpha would be able to win. In the first turn he got jammed up and went a little quick; he almost ran off with Johnny [Velazquez]. It wasn't an ideal situation; that's why we…


Aug 18 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Saratoga Race Course Notes: Sunday, August 17

• Mr Speaker breezes, definite for G1 Travers
• Mott gets opportunity to run Charge Now at 1 ¼ miles in Travers; Crown Queen emerges from G2 Knob Creek Lake Placid in good shape
• Ulanbator, Viva Majorca work for G1 Travers
• All systems go for The Big Beast in G1 Ketel One…


Aug 18 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
John Morrissey NYB) Quotes

Phil Serpe, winning trainer of Weekend Hideaway (No. 3): "Our horse has been training great, and I kind of thought he was getting the Rodney Dangerfield treatment a little bit. He's now got six wins in 16 starts, with three seconds and three thirds, so you can't look away from that. But we were very…


Aug 16 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Saratoga Race Course Notes: Friday, August 15

• Curlin winner V. E. Day breezes for G1 Travers
• Twilight Eclipse, back in good form following Dubai trip, ready for G1 Sword Dancer on Sunday
• Alpha, a two-time Grade 1 winner at the Spa, entered in $100,000 Alydar on Sunday
• Financial Mogul drops into Saturday allowance

Aug 16 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Arlington Million XXXII Advance

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (August 13, 2014) – Strong, short, intimidating, tenacious, and encompassing many countries and continents, Arlington Million XXXII is a lot like Napoleon Bonaparte, and much like the life of said reference the Grade I, 1¼-miles turf fixture seems to be flourishing in its thirties…


Aug 16 | Categories: Arlington Park, | Comments (0)
Larry Collmus to succeed Tom Durkin as race caller

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Launching a new era for horseplayers and racing fans around the world, New York Racing Association CEO and President Chris Kay announced the appointment of Larry Collmus as the organization's next race caller. The voice of the Triple Crown and the Breeders' Cup for NBC Sports,…


Aug 13 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Toyota Saratoga Special (G2) Quotes

Tony Dutrow, winning trainer of I Spent It (No. 1): "His second career start, so impressive. You've got to be a good horse to do that. Bad horses can't do that. And he's always led all of us to believe - especially since his last race - we really thought we were going to see something like this today.…


Aug 11 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Adirondack (G2) Quotes

Kiaran McLaughlin, winning trainer of Cavorting (No. 5): "We had a lot of confidence because she's trained very well. She's a special filly. She ran 11 weeks after she came to us and won by 11 [lengths]. Usually our horses improve [in their] second start. She had a perfect trip; [jockey] Irad [Ortiz,…


Aug 11 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)