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.

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'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

All-Entrants Look at Spa Saturday Late Pick 4

By John Pricci, exclusively for

Comments from July 23 P4 at SARATOGA, notable winners & money finishers

RACE 8 Allowance Optional Claiming 1 Mile INNER TURF

2-Our Way (6-1) ran well in recent salty spots after being victimized by a series of bad trips dating back to January at GP. Has some tactical speed and pole position with switch to Jose Ortiz indicates switch to close-range tactics. (Win: $22.00)
3-Tizzarunner (12-1) was a tough trip second in turf debut this winter, a listed stakes, indicative of confidence from Casse shed. Takes meaningful for barn that’s profitable 21% effective with second-time turfers. (Ex: $150.00)
9-Hockey School (8-1) raced wide following troubled start in last after breaking maiden by open lengths previously over yielding ground. Has five works since his last, switches to Rosario, and bred to improve given today’s two-turn dynamic. (Tri: $1,776)

RACE 9 Allowances 3 & UP 1-1/8 MILES

5-Tale of Verve (12-1)
finally showed some life in last following series of dull efforts. This still requires act of fact even if reuniting with winning pilot Rosario. (Win, 37.40)
4-My Man Sam (8-5) returns from the Triple Crown scene following game placing behind lone quality speed Matt King Coal this winter, following up with wild-horse-finish placing in the Blue Grass and deceptively good horror trip in the Derby. Freshened since, pointed to this meet; best figures and looms formidable favorite despite spotting weight to elders. (Ex: 94.00)

RACE 10 Grade 1 DIANA STAKES F & M 1-1/8 Miles MELLON TURF

6-Dacita (5-1) flashed excellent turn of foot to win G2 New York in final strides, drawing out late. Drops four pounds for this, retains Irad, and enters off series of very sharp drills. T-G pattern very healthy and earned co-high lifetime best on Spa grass in 2015. (Win: 10.20)
7-Recepta (9-2) has been extremely competitive despite spate of tough trips in series of G1s, retains Johnny, is favorable weighted and finally gets away from inside posts which have compromised her position early. Reported training well and is 1-for-1 at Spa. (Ex: 95.50)
9-Rainha Da Bateria (20-1) entered stretch extremely wide in rapid Just A Game, losing all chance, but made up deficit late, closing into wild late pace coming for last of 12. Working bullets recently, attracts Leparoux and has puncher’s chance at big price. (Tri: 1,217.00)

RACE 11 Claiming 3 & UP 1-1/16 Miles INNER TURF

4-Procurement (8-1) has never raced this cheaply for turf ace Maker or anyone else. Javier on a return call. Lacks Spa turf experience and winless in six starts at the distance. (Win: 14.60)
10-Dream Man (6-1) beat similar in Belmont finale, dropdowns notwithstanding, earning excellent performance figures and three of four career wins have come at the trip. Indeed, all recent tries have been competitive and gelded 8YO retains Alvarado. (Ex: 92.50)


Reprinted via promotional arragement


1-Captain Moss (10-1) comes from sharp score over $50K starters following narrow defeat at this level in prior. Well drawn with tactical speed, has won half his six turf starts and Franco was aboard for three most recent wins. Brilliant work Jul 21; value on early line.
2-Alexahente (20-1) placed gamely in first start for Elizabeth Voss--whose dad always prepped at Delaware before shipping to Spa—beating a next-out winner. Another tactical runner with position; attracts Carmouche.
3-Idiosyncratic (6-1)
finished well after the fact last time out, his first start since 2014, but was away again since April appearance. Chad 27% effective with 90-days+ layups and Irad a profitable 30% for this barn last two months, winning with 4 of last 11 rides.
4-Muhaawer (8-1) has been away since last year’s key event (3 next-out wins) but Kiaran en fuego with many winners coming off layups, validating 23% profitability with 90-days+ returnees. Crisp works at Greentree Center and Santana 1-for-1 for this barn recently.
5-Ray’s The Bar (3-1) showed high promise in first two starts as 2015 juvenile but so far has failed to show added development at 3. Chad 24% in LAY-3 scenario and is reuniting with Javier.
6-Circus Performer (9-2) exits two better-than-it-looks performances at Belmont for Todd—his latest from post 10 on Belmont Inner--earning excellent Pricci Energy Rating. Better position here and returning in Joel's hands.
7-Hunter O’ Riley (8-1) raced as if in need of 3YO debut in first start for Toner after impressing with late-run potential at 2. Barn’s horses improve in second start, gets switch to Recepta’s rider, and showed some affinity for Spa turf in 2015 racing debut.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)
Saratoga All-Entrants Late P4 Handicapping Skinny

Exclusively for via Promotional Agreement

Comments from Belmont July 16 LATE PICK 4 on winners & exacta finishers


7-LULL (5-1), racing without Lasix, also by War Front, is uncoupled Clement newcomer, a barn profitable with first-timers on grass. Attracts Franco but three straight gate works the good news and the bad news. (won, $10.20)
8-ASSCHER (2-1) was totally eliminated by poor start in well-meant debut. Todd 27% with second-timers and Javier takes a return call but pedigree a question mark for us on this surface (2nd, exacta $32.00).


4-KING KREESA (7-2), another redoubtable state-bred, is 7-time Belmont grass winner with exacta finishes, including 5 wins, in 14 total starts given these dynamics. Might shake free as potential loose leader (won, 6.70).
1-FORCE THE PASS (3-5) was good second behind loose leader and classy miler Obviously in Grade 3 last out and was very willing third in G3 Appleton 4YO debut prior. Big time class relief here and reunites with Johnny; formidable fave. (2nd, exacta 12.00)

RACE 9 $12, 500 CLAIMING 3 & UP 1 MILE

4-POINT HOPE (7-2), blinkers back on for barn that’s recently 4-for-12 in that scenario with two money finishers and switches back to Irad. Barn in slump this meet but class dropper goes for major client; guesswork at short early line odds. (won 16.80)
1-FINDING CANDY (6-1) is 2-for-13 at the trip and 3-for-30 all other distances, reunites with Castellano and goes turf to dirt for barn that’s 16% efficient given that dynamic; looks live in this spot. (2nd, exacta 85.00)


5-SUBTLE LADY (7-2) lost rider in season’s debut when dropping to this level now makes second start for Rice, 22% in LAY-2 scenario, and gets switch to Johnny. (won 8.80)
8-ELECTRIFIED (5-2) makes first start in over a year dropping into claimer for first time; barn capable with layups but not particularly well known for successful layup runners; underlay on early line. (2nd, exacta 38.60)


RACE 8 Allowance Optional Claiming 1 Mile INNER TURF

1-Wyeth (5-2) was all out to win latest in much improved, albeit perfect trip score going longer following wide trip sprint debut. Worked thrice since latest and Javier takes the return call.
1A-Catapult (5-2) raced greenly for Chad in second start making graded stakes debut following troubled start. Back to proper level for barn 27% efficient with 90 days+ layups and reunites with winning rider Irad Ortiz.
2-Our Way (6-1) ran well in recent salty spots after being victimized by a series of bad trips dating back to January at GP. Has some tactical speed and pole position with switch to Jose Ortiz indicates switch to close-range tactics.
3-Tizzarunner (12-1) was a tough trip second in turf debut this winter, a listed stakes, indicative of confidence from Casse shed. Takes meaningful for barn that’s profitable 21% effective with second-time turfers.
4-Scissors and Tape (15-1) earned improved Pricci Energy Rating in second start following brief freshening. Maker an ace on turf and Leparoux taking the re-ride. Inside draw makes him pace factor here.
5-Gio's Calling (8-1) career best PER came rounding two turns at KEE this spring and gets back to those dynamics today. Three of four sibs own turf wins, reuniting with Luis Saez and T-G pattern is forward-looking.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)

Forget the Alabama, Songbird belongs in the Travers

Songbird's romp in the Coaching Club American Oaks, dominating the best fillies in the East, established beyond any argument that she is the best female of her generation. The only thing left for her to prove is she is the best of her generation of either gender by running in the Travers on Aug. 27 instead of the Alabama on Aug. 20.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (33)
Delaware ‘Cap is Bayern redux

Another big race has ended in controversy over an objection/claim of foul. I'm a Chatterbox did essentially the same thing in last Saturday's Delaware Handicap that Bayern did in the 2014 Breeders' Cup Classic. She took out three horses by breaking inward. The stewards left the result "as is." This was as wrong Saturday as it was in 2014. DQ's and non-DQ's continue to be a source of controversy, which harm trust in the integrity of the sport. Something has to be done.

MIAMI, July 21, 2016--Instant replay has destroyed the enjoyment of sports. Introduced by the NFL to “get it right” on potentially game-changing erroneous calls, it has devolved into a parody of itself. Interminable delays while deciding whether a receiver’s loose shoelace touched the white boundary on a three-yard pass in the middle of the field in the first quarter have become commonplace. Whatever became of the 90-second time limit?

Instant replay has now infected the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball. Its use in the latter has become as abused as it is in football. Even announcers concede that managers sometimes take a shot because they have nothing to lose. Meanwhile a game, whose hierarchy acknowledges it runs too long, grinds to a halt.

The one sport in which replays have been not only useful but essential in making decisions is horse racing. But I’m beginning to have my doubts about that.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (19)

If Only Saratoga Could Cast Its Spell All Year Long…

ELMONT, NT, July 26, 2016--Thoroughbred racing is no longer The Sport of Kings and its obituary is long overdue: The Sport of Kings is dead. Long live Thoroughbred racing.

Save for the Queen of England, a few of her Lords and the desert Sheikhs, there are no Kings in the Sport of Kings.

Not many of the robber barons that ruled America and set up Thoroughbred racing as their private club are even in the game anymore.

Most of the families that bred the horses whose pedigrees we revered are no longer a major influence in Thoroughbred racing. In fact, they've abandoned it.

Now it lies with us to save it.

I love this game and it's time to call out the deep pocketed no shows and wake up all those who think the game is not on life support.

Thoroughbred racing is a business as is any other sport. If you believe otherwise, I have a bridge in my native county, Brooklyn, that's for sale.

But without support from casinos many of the tracks in this country would not exist. We, as bettors, can no longer support racing by ourselves and it's time we come to grips with that.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (37)
Some Minor Growing Pains for New NYRABets Website

ELMONT, NY, July 21,2016--Confusion about whether the New York Racing Association's new national wagering platform, NYRA Bets, would or would not launch tomorrow for opening day at Saratoga Race Course sprung up on twitter this morning.

As it turns out, concerns were overstated--sort of.

Pat McKenna, NYRA Director of Communications for NYRA, clarified the situation with the following statement after being contacted by email.

"NYRA Rewards will officially transition to NYRA Bets on Friday, July 22.

New York State residents and existing customers will immediately be able to watch and wager on

A select group of out-of-state customers are a part of our national beta group, helping us work through the final stages prior to full-blown launch.

NYRA Bets will soon be available for customers across the country, and we will have additional guidance on the full, national launch in the coming days."

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (5)

A Legacy That’s Worth Leaving

LOS ANGELES, July 28, 2016—Steven Crist's retirement from the Daily Racing Form qualified him as the most newsworthy development of last week. Though better known as a Daily Racing Form executive and columnist, acclaimed author of betting books and influential horseplayer advocate, he had also worked as a New York Racing Assn. executive under then CEO, Kenny Noe Jr.

In a subsequent Q&A interview by the Thoroughbred Daily News, Crist candidly described the experience: "… It was frustrating. I discovered there was this whole political side to the job. Kenny and I took a lot of early morning plane rides up to Albany to talk to dopey legislators. You had to do them favors or give them things. It was just horrible."

Asked about his impact when writing about New York racing and politics, he replied, "… It’s hard to feel any sense of accomplishment. It just gets worse and worse and it doesn’t matter what they say… they’re never held accountable for anything. What Andrew Cuomo has done, making a deal with NYRA and then taking it back, it’s just disgraceful."

Crist's announcement came on the heels of another news-making development made by friend and former DRF colleague, Charles Hayward. The former NYRA CEO garnered media attention with "the formation of Hayward Advisory Services LLC to assist racing companies grow their business through a strategic planning process and by introducing revenue and cost-saving initiatives."

This is Hayward's next step in an effort to restore his relevance in the wake of attempts to further assassinate his character by minions of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and assorted industry commentators.

In what some observers attribute to the Governor's ‘agenda’ to optimize state revenues from gambling through casinos at the expense of horse racing in the state, Hayward was fired upon the official discovery of NYRA's incontrovertible failure to lower takeout beyond the legislated sunset date for a temporary state-imposed increase.

Ironically, the wayward Hayward was condemned by e-mails from and to Crist, who had inquired about the issue at the behest of a DRF reader.

Written by Indulto | Comments (4)
A Dubious Challenge to the Dubai World Cup

LOS ANGELES, May 16, 2016—A post-Derby announcement of a revised plan to unseat Dubai as the world's richest Thoroughbred horse race has piqued interest across the Internet.

Two factors are responsible: The first has to do with the novel strategy on how to fund the event, the second because it’s the brainchild of Frank Stronach, arguably the most powerful individual in North American racing.

The original "Pegasus World Championship," proposal called for a 10-furlong race with a $12 million purse to be held at either Santa Anita or Gulfstream Park, perhaps in rotation. Obviously both are Stronach properties.

In essence, 12 shares would be sold at $1 million each to investors who then can not only enter the race but also share in ancillary revenues generated by the event.

It's most recent reincarnation embraces Gulfstream--with far lower seating capacity--and the distance will be nine furlongs which unlike the longer race comes with a much shorter run to the first turn.

How would you like to put up a million bucks and draw the 11 or 12 hole?

Written by Indulto | Comments (11)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Saratoga Race Course Notes, Friday July 29

G1 CCA Oaks winner Songbird returns to track
• Tepin to skip G1 Fourstardave and target G2 Ballston Spa
• Frosted puts in final breeze Friday for G1 Whitney
• Upstarts works for Whitney; Violette mulls options with Samraat
• Guillot talks up maiden Laoban

Jul 29 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Curlin Quotes

Chad Brown, winning trainer of Connected (No. 1) and second-place finisher Gift Box (No. 4): "This horse [Connected] is lightly raced but we've always thought a lot of him. He's developed in each race. Running two turns today and being the pacesetter to be able to hold on and prevail he showed a lot."

Jul 29 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Lord Nelson Heads Field in Bing Crosby Stakes Sunday

Spendthrift Farm’s classy Lord Nelson, recent winner of the Grade I Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita, will attempt to continue building on his reputation Sunday when he heads a field of nine sprinters in the 71st running of the Grade I $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes at six furlongs.

Jul 29 | Categories: Del Mar, | Comments (0)
Churchill Downs Announces September, Fall Meet Stakes Schedules


142nd Running Grade I Clark Handicap, Pair of ‘Stars of Tomorrow’ Programs Top Fall Meet; Kentucky Derby & Kentucky Oaks Points and Breeders’ Cup ‘Win…

Jul 27 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
Moonlight Song, Weekend Hideaway clash in John Morrissey

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Moonlight Song and Weekend Hideaway have won the last two renewals of the John Morrissey Stakes, and the two accomplished veterans will clash in Thursday's 12th edition of the $100,000 race at Saratoga Race Course.

The 6 1/2-furlong Morrissey attracted a field of…

Jul 26 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Saratoga Race Course Notes 7/25

Songbird 'wonderful' following G1 Coaching Club American Oaks victory
• Belmont winner Creator turns in final work for G2 Jim Dandy
• Race Me Home breezes for Jim Dandy
• Wilkes hopes to build off strong opening week
• Low Roller Challenge gives chance to score…

Jul 25 | Categories: | Comments (0)
Saratoga Race Course Notes 7/24

G1 winner Rachel's Valentina retired; Destin 'excellent' ahead of G2 Jim Dandy
• Well-traveled Undrafted set to make Saratoga turf debut in Lucky Coin
• Dacita in fine fettle following G1 Diana win
• Strong work from Governor Malibu keeps Jim Dandy in consideration

Jul 25 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) Quotes

Jerry Hollendorfer, winning trainer of Songbird (No. 1): "We thought we were going to get tested and we thought [jockey] Julien [Leparoux] would send [Carina Mia] at us early, which he did. We got a chance to test our filly and she dug in. Great race from [trainer] Billy [Mott]'s filly, too."

Jul 25 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Saratoga Race Course Notes 7/23

• Exaggerator may train up to G1 Travers
• Comebacking Moonlight Song targets John Morrissey Stakes
• Hot City Girl looks for glowing performance in Shine Again
• Geroux looking forward to successful Saratoga meet
• Fields coming together for next weekend's stakes

Jul 23 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Schuylerville (G3) Quotes

Todd Pletcher, winning trainer of Sweet Loretta (No. 4): "She came to us early at Palm Beach Downs and she showed some quality. When she was getting ready to run, we felt like she was doing well at Palm Beach Downs so we sent her to the team in Monmouth. They did a great job with her.


Jul 23 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Songbird stars in G1 Coaching Club American Oaks

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Fox Hill Farm's undefeated champion Songbird will ride her eight-race win streak to historic Saratoga Race Course as the expected favorite in the Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks on Sunday.

Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, Songbird broke…

Jul 22 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Rainbow 6 Carryover Stands at $130,147 for Thursday’s Program

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved for the 11th consecutive racing day Sunday at Gulfstream Park, producing a carryover jackpot of $130,147.41 for Thursday’s program.

There were no tickets with all six winners sold. Thus, multiple tickets with five winners were…

Jul 18 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)