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

No Triumph This Time, Only Tragedy

MIAMI LAKES, October 17, 2014—Call it the Robin Williams syndrome, anything that properly reflects tragedy that goes beyond the pale.

Death almost always begets sadness but this was something more, perhaps a replication of how one feels when a special one passes. Even from a great distance, Juan Saez seemed to possess the kind or rare talent that belied his tender age.

Sometimes, death can be a blessing for those that suffer from disease, but I’ve always wondered if that was true. How would I feel about letting go if given the choice between doing just that or carrying on?

There was nothing about the death of the 17-year-old Saez that had any saving grace whatsoever: In death’s wake, shocking and profoundly sad are the only apt descriptions.

I never met the young man nor did I have the opportunity to see the teenage phenom in the flesh; only on horseback, on a closed-circuit monitor. His productivity demanded that you sought him out wherever he chose to hang his tack.

I finally caught up to his all too brief meteoric career while he was riding in Kentucky this Fall. His passing came with an ever-present reminder that jockeys are the least appreciated athletes of all.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)
Even for the Innocent, Payback’s a Bitch

PLANTATION, FL., October 1, 2014—At once, L’Affaire Espinoza was--and was not--as bad as I was led to believe reading the media reports regarding Saturday’s Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita.

According to the latest NTRA national poll, this country’s top ranked Thoroughbred nearly suffered his first career defeat in the Grade 1 nine furlongs because of the race-riding tactics of a rival, not because he wasn’t up to the task.

As the Awesome Again was run, Shared Belief was much the best horse defeating, among others, an older, worthy rival in Fed Biz. If the gelding weren’t a very, very good horse, his slate would have read (7) 6-1-0.

Given the kind of trip Shared Belief suffered through, that kind of race dynamics would have beaten 99 out of 100 runners—he is that classy in our view.

The most damning physical evidence against Victor Espinoza were the floating incident coming out of the first turn and never making an attempt on the backside to save Sky Kingdom any ground.

That speed tack might have been cast after the Grade 3-type runner worked a half mile in 46 4/5 seconds three days before the race, 3rd fastest of 83 peers to work last week in Arcadia.

As for the incident on the racetrack, I guess I’ve seen worse, but probably never in a bigger spot. However, it’s the circumstantial evidence that’s so damaging.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (28)

Who Will Step Up to Save the Game?

LOS ANGELES, October 15, 2014--Catching up on my reading after weeks of contemplating Florida sunsets, I found a few items worth examining more closely.

The first was Churchill Downs Incorporated's announcement that they had restored the Hollywood Futurity -- citing its production of six previous Derby winners -- to its list of Kentucky Derby 2015 qualifying preps after dropping it from the original line-up last year.

Shared Belief's victory in that race's final renewal in Inglewood earned him 2013's two-year-old championship; a consequence that could have proven an embarrassing oversight by CDI had an injury not forced the champ off the Derby trail.

The new home of the Futurity is Los Alamitos Racecourse -- not yet a Grade I venue, but a candidate for national recognition should Shared Belief collect a $5M bonus for winning the Breeders' Cup Classic in addition to both the Los Alamitos Derby and the Pacific Classic.

According to Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery, "The robust commitments by the team at Los Alamitos suggest a strong desire to be included in our series, and we’re confident the race is likely to attract aspiring and compelling Derby prospects…We’re delighted to welcome the Los Alamitos Futurity to the Kentucky Derby ‘Prep Season."

The preceding congeniality, however, still doesn't flow in the direction of Hawthorne Racecourse whose Illinois Derby was rendered virtually meaningless by CDI when it changed the basis for Derby eligibility from earnings in any graded stakes race to points earned in races it designates.

That competitor-crippling action was uncalled-for, and surely emboldened CDI rival The Stronach Group to deploy similar tactics to eliminate racing competition at Calder which succeeded this year.

Indeed, CDI's karma is presently so bad that it just announced it will add an executive position charged with improving its image in the wake of handle losses suffered at consecutive Churchill meets and at its Arlington Park property. CDI is also facing intervention from the state of Louisiana regarding its Fair Grounds property that has already lowered purses for their next race meet.

As CDI is now considering selling the above properties, an era of new civility might best be initiated by negotiations with Hawthorne to add the Illinois Derby-- at least as a second 2015 wild card qualifier two weeks before the big dance.

Given the cold shoulder it has given boycotting horseplayers in the past, it was a pleasant surprise to see that Daily Racing Form commented positively on the effectiveness of this grass roots movement:


Written by Indulto | Comments (4)
Standing Up for Horseplayers Everywhere

OLDSMAR, FL, September 1, 2014—Watching and wagering in air-conditioned comfort while my wife enthusiastically engaged the tropical humidity of a Tampa summer elsewhere, I couldn't help wondering why horses were still forced to compete when and where the weather is inhospitable to both man and beast.

As I lounged, listening through my laptop, my fellow horseplayer advocate and friend, Andy Asaro, stood in front of the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) last week and experienced how difficult it is to effectively deliver a message challenging the status quo; particularly as an individual--an independent one at that.

The experience led me to conclude that chilly receptions for some horseplayers aren't just limited to wintertime. It's not easy being a stand-up guy.


Written by Indulto | Comments (14)

A throwback to my previous life

What do racing fans do when they're not handicapping or betting? Probably 99% watch television. It's a slow week in racing, awaiting the Breeders' Cup pre-entries, so I'm going to digress one time only and go back to my previous life as a TV critic.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (7)
Tracks don’t know or care what bettors want

Racing has to be a great game to survive the people running it. Low minimum multi-race wagers are all the rage, so what do Belmont and Santa Anita do? They create the Coast to Coast double with a $2 minimum. It has received the frigid reception it deserves. Racing's leaders have identified drug abuse as the sport's biggest problem. But California and New York let serial drug offender Doug O'Neill off the hook with what amounts to less than a slap on the wrist. Also, the Racing Form, which should be serving its customers, repeatedly changes symbols for well known tracks to appease track operators while confusing bettors.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (44)

Marc Lawrence College and Pro Upsets, Oct. 23 to Oct 27

COLORADO over UCLA by 1

A victim of their own success – 10-3 SU and 9-4 ATS in 2013 – the underachieving Bruins have been major money burners this season, bringing a 1-6 ATS mark into this contest. Highly-touted QB Brett Hundley has regained his aim since a Heisman-killing 48-yard passing performance against Texas in mid-September but the defense has gone into early hibernation, giving up 106 points in its last three games (1-2 SU). Who can forget UCLA head coach Jim Mora’s heated sideline argument with DC Jeff Ulbrich while Oregon put up 42 points in the Rose Bowl two weeks ago? Hey, the visitors’ 7-14 road chalk mark in their last 21 Pac-12 games does not look promising... nor does their 5-14-1 ATS mark, including 0-6-1 ATS as favorites of more than 6 points, in games after facing California. We won’t even mention that the Blue-and-Gold are just 1-6 ATS in games before facing their next opponent, Arizona! Colorado’s scoreboard results may not show it but the Buffs have improved by leaps and bounds in their third season under HC Mike MacIntyre, gaining 99 YPG more
on offense while yielding 34 YPG less on defense this season compared to last. Ralphie also gets the job done as a conference home dog of 14 or fewer points off back-to-back SU losses, going 9-4 SU and 10-3 ATS, and MacIntyre chips in with a 4-1-1 ATS effort against foes allowing 18.5 or more points per game. With Ralphie’s herd averaging a stout 31 PPG, we look for the Bruins to reach a Rocky Mountain low this afternoon in Boulder. To put the wraps on this bear trap, Marc’s ‘ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG’ system from the 2011 Black Book conveys The Clincher: College football road favorites off a win in which they allowed 30 or more points, who allow more than 29 PPG and 4.0 or more Yards Per Rush on the season, are 5-25-1 ATS in this role since 1980.


Written by Marc Lawrence | Comments (0)
Marc Lawrence College and Pro Upsets, Oct. 16-20

NORTH CAROLINA over Georgia Tech by 6

Despite a monumental effort in last week’s 50-43 loss to Notre Dame in South Bend, USA Today Sports has still picked North Carolina as 2014’s biggest disappointment: “After tabbing UNC as a potential ACC and major bowl contender – again – perhaps we’ve all learned our lesson.” Okay, we’ll admit the Tar Heels have failed to git ‘er done under HC Larry Fedora but if anyone’s going to be down in the dumps at Chapel Hill today, our vote goes to the Bumble Bees. Thanks to three huge turnovers in their loss to Duke (Tech had turned the ball over just four times in their fi rst fi ve games), the Jackets are an offi cial ‘Bubble Burster’ (5-0 or greater perfect season ruined in a straight-up favorite loss) and we’re not going to try an revive them. Meanwhile, the 2-4 Tar Heels fi nd themselves in an eerily similar situation to last year when they posted five consecutive SU wins after a 1-5 start to qualify for the Belk Bowl. Fedora owns a stylish 5-1 ATS mark versus a foe off a SU favorite loss and his Heels have gone 4-0 ATS of late as home dogs versus an .800 or better opponent. No doubt the visitors will get their yards as Paul Johnson’s spread-option offense should move the ball against a UNC ‘D’ allowing 192 rushing YPG but with the Wreck now 1-4 ATS in the first of back-to-back road games – plus 2-7 ATS after dealing with Duke – we’ll look for Carolina to fully awaken from its season-long slumber and take a big step toward becoming bowl eligible. Whether the spread is pick, plus or even minus, we’re sticking with the Tar Heels.


Written by Marc Lawrence | Comments (0)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
XPRESSBET’S FREE BREEDERS’ CUP WAGERING GUIDE NOW AVAILABLE

Last Year’s Wagering Guide Yielded More than $1,200 in Winning Wagers

October 24, 2014 (Washington, PA) – The definitive Guide for betting the World Championships, the Xpressbet Breeders’ Cup Wager Guide, is now available for free download by customers and the general public at Xpressbet.com.…


Oct 25 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, | Comments (0)
CHURCHILL DOWNS’ 125TH FALL MEET OPENS SUNDAY


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014) – 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 125th Fall Meet on Sunday, Oct. 26.




Oct 23 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
HRTV TO PROVIDE COMPREHENSIVE LIVE COVERAGE OF BREEDERS’ CUP

All Races, Except Classic, to Air Live on HRTV During Two-Day Cup

Arcadia, CA, Oct. 21, 2014-- HRTV (R), The Network for Horse Sports, will present comprehensive live coverage leading into, and continuing through, the 31st running of the Breeders' Cup, Thoroughbred racing's most prestigious…


Oct 22 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, | Comments (0)
Keeneland Statement Regarding Kentucky Race Dates:

Keeneland understands and appreciates the conflicting interests and priorities that have resulted in the recommended schedule of racing dates for the late summer and early fall of 2015. While we accept the decision of the Race Dates Committee for the coming year, the Commission needs to know that we…


Oct 21 | Categories: Keeneland, | Comments (0)
SHARED BELIEF DRILLS IN 1:14 2/5 FOR $5 MILLION BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC

ALBANY, Calif. -- Shared Belief, in his longest workout leading up to the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, drilled six furlongs in 1:14 2/5 handily on Golden Gate Fields’ Tapeta racing surface Tuesday.

Shared Belief will be the favorite in the Grade 1 Classic, the main event of the…


Oct 21 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, | Comments (0)
Gulfstream Receives Record 5,356 Stall Applications for Winter Season

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Gulfstream Park announced today it received a record 5,356 applications for the 3,800 stalls available at Gulfstream, Palm Meadows and Gulfstream Park West for its Championship Meet.

The Championship Meet, which begins Dec. 6, will feature 67 stakes races - 37 graded…


Oct 21 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Empire Classic Handicap (NYB) Quotes

Jimmy Jerkens, winning trainer of Effinex (No. 5): "Today he ran with [Twinspires.com Wood Memorial winner] Wicked Strong's blinkers, the same little black ones [Punkin Pie winner] Classic Point wore. Since I've gotten him, he's gotten stronger. He ran very well in Saratoga. We didn't have a lot of time…


Oct 19 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Empire Distaff (NYB) Quotes

Mike Hushion, winning trainer of Princess Violet (No. 5): "It was sweet. She relaxed better than ever and when [jockey Jose Ortiz] stepped on the gas, she came on. It was perfect; pretty simple. We didn't really want her on the lead because we were afraid someone would take premature runs at her, so…


Oct 19 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
$25,000 Pick 10 To Be Unveiled Monday At Gulfstream Park West

10-Cent Wager with 10-Percent Takeout Can Only Be Played On Next Four Mondays

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Gulfstream Park West announced today it will offer a 10-cent Pick 10 with a guaranteed jackpot of $25,000 during the next four Monday programs at the Fall Turf Festival.

The…


Oct 17 | Categories: Gulfstream West, | Comments (0)
Maryland Million News

NOT FOR LOVE TOPS STALLION LIST FOR TOMORROW’S MARYLAND MILLION

LAUREL, MD. 10-17-14---Introduced in 1986, the Jim McKay Maryland Million, a program of races restricted to the offspring of Maryland-based stallions, continues to receive strong support from Maryland's extensive breeding…


Oct 17 | Categories: Laurel, | Comments (0)
Flag Flies Half-Mast to Honor Memory of Juan Saez

Flag Flies Half-Mast and Jockeys Wear Black Caps at Gulfstream Park West to Honor Memory of Juan Saez


MIAMI GARDENS, FL -- Gulfstream Park West honored the memory of jockey Juan Saez Thursday, when the U.S. flag in the infield flew at half-mast during the 10-race program. The jockeys…


Oct 17 | Categories: Gulfstream West, | Comments (0)
Maryland Million News

THREE LOOKING FOR REPEAT PERFORMANCES IN SATURDAY’S MARYLAND MILLION

LAUREL, MD. 10-16-14---Twenty-nine horses have won more than one Maryland Million event. Seven former winners are entered Saturday afternoon at Laurel Park, including three runners looking for repeat victories: Eighttofasttocatch…


Oct 17 | Categories: Laurel, | Comments (0)