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

NYRA Supports NY Horsemen’s Plan to Help Defray Insurance Costs

Pound for pound, jockeys are among the strongest athletes on the planet. These 110-pound riders are entrusted to control 1,000-pound racehorses, and they do so with tremendous strength and deft hands.

It’s something of a jockey’s code, something they don’t speak about. But each time a jockey mounts a Thoroughbred in a horse race they literally hold their lives inside those hands.

Nearly 30 years have passed since Mike Venezia lost his life in a tragic accident at Belmont Park. Though improved safety equipment for jockeys is now mandatory, it is hardly life-saving. Any injury could end a career, or worse.

Because this occupation is so dangerous, insurance premiums are extremely high; indeed the equivalent of a professional football player in the National Football League.

In an attempt to assist horsemen meet a huge financial burden of skyrocketing insurance costs—especially in New York--and to help fill races, the New York Racing Association and the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association developed a symbiotic plan.

At Aqueduct’s upcoming winter meeting, December 6 through March 31, 2018, through NYRA auspices, horsemen will receive a $300 credit to help pay any outstanding balances in the New York Jockey Injury Compensation Fund for workmen’s compensation insurance to trainers whose horses race but do not gain a large slice of the purse money.

*The funding for the $300 Per Start Credit Program does not come from NYRA, it comes entirely from horsemen's purse money. The idea for the program came from NYTHA. While NYRA is in support of the program, they are neither the catalyst nor the source of the funding.

In New York, the winner currently gets 60% of the purse, with 20% for second, 10% for third, five percent for fourth and three percent for fifth.

Under this arrangement, the remainder of the field will split two percent of the purse among also-rans finishing sixth or worse. NYRA will guarantee that $300 minimum to these remaining horses.


Written by Mark Berner | Comments (12)
For Racing, What Cost Security?

Dr. Rick Sams, laboratory director at LGC Sports Science, the official testing laboratory for Kentucky, Virginia and Maine racing commissions based in Lexington, says that designer drugs administered to horses simply cannot be detected by laboratories.

Sams, it should be noted, also is a member of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium's Scientific Practices Committee and consultant to the Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee of the Association of Racing Commissioners International.

On the other hand, Martin Panza, senior vice president of racing operations at the New York Racing Association, said nobody is using drugs that we don’t know about. Both cannot be correct.

“Both right, both wrong,” said Dr. Steven Barker, the veterinarian whose laboratory at Louisiana State University was the first to discover dermorphin, aka ‘frog juice’. “The answer is somewhere in the middle.”


Written by Mark Berner | Comments (29)

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 (14)
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)

Racing Family Comes Full Circle at Payson Park

Some people run away as children to join the circus. But not the late Hall of Famer Thomas Joseph Kelly, who ran off to join the racetrack when he was 13. When he passed, eight full decades later, he left as the patriarch of one of racing’s foremost families.

Last week, T.J.’s son, Larry, also a racetrack lifer, became the new General Manager of world renowned Payson Park Training Center in Indiantown, Florida, a two-hour drive north and west of Gulfstream Park.

The appointment is proof positive that what goes around indeed comes around again.

It started with Turnpike Tom, who served as apprentice for trainer Louis Fuestel. When making the transition from hot walker to groom to trainer, it’s no guarantee that one will someday land in racing’s pantheon.

But Kelly did get a pretty good start, having learned from the man who trained the mighty Man o’ War.

Of course, Payson Park long has been the winter home of Roger Attfield, Christophe Clement, Shug McGaughey, Bill Mott, among other racing notables. And when the 59-year-old Kelly joined the Payson family last week, the Payson circle was complete.

Payson Park is widely regarded as one of the best training centers anywhere in the world. It features a turf course and safe, deep dirt track over which hoof beats are barely audible.

European-style hacking trails add to the atmosphere. It allows horses to be horses and a great way to prepare youngsters for the rigors of future racetrack life.

Tom Kelly was the first trainer to use Payson as a training center. Born in Maryland and once a regular on that circuit, Kelly was a mainstay in New York during temperate times and raced primarily at Hialeah in winter. Payson is where some of the horses went for R & R.

The Kelly men are racetrackers through and through. T.J.’s younger brother, Edward (E.I.) Kelly, trained the 1959 sprint champion, Intentionally.

Tom’s wife Frances foaled three trainers; Pat, the oldest, best remembered for his work with New York-based millionaire Evening Attire, and Tim who left the backstretch to become a New York Racing Association official.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (3)
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)



 


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, |