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

CHROME: A Sunday Kind of Love

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., January 15, 2017--It was the morning after his penultimate workout for the ultimate race of his life. The world's richest race horse ever, preparing for the world's richest race ever.

After a routine five-furlong breeze Saturday morning before a larger than usual breakfast crowd at Gulfstream Park, California Chrome was relaxing, which was hard for a newcomer to know because he's just so focused, with a "what's next?" look about him.

We're not anthropomorphizing here. I've been on the other side of the webbing of plenty of race horses and, as horsemen like to say about the great ones, this horse actually looks like he is breathing different air.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)
Oaklawn Park, a Track That Gets It

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., January 8, 2017—In an attempt to make their on-track fans happier than they already are, Oaklawn Park, which opens this Friday, is offering a bonus on winning show bets.

Read lower takeout here: And the track is doing it the right way!

The new Show Bet Bonus will increase the winning payout by 7 percent, according to Oaklawn official Bobby Geiger. Why? Because show wagering is very popular there, accounting for over 12 percent of on-track handle in a typical year.

Oaklawn takeout on straight wagers is set at 17 percent across the board. With the bonus, the show rake will be 10 percent. a seven percent bonus for winning show bettors.

The different payoff levels, to be displayed on the track's infield tote boards, will show one price for simulcast customers and what is paid on track, so everyone can see the difference.

I’m officially jealous and disappointed that I cannot take advantage of the opportunity. My personal betting rules re: straight pools is generally win and place at 5-1 or lower; win and show at higher odds, using exactas as a “place bet.”

Many, myself included, thanks to my late friend Cary Fotias, and now California racing activist Andy Asaro, have supported lower takeout and breakage elimination for years as a means of creating new fans and bring old ones back to the track.

Every track executive, and every horseman, should support the "Oaklawn Plan" with marketing that emphasizes simpler, straight wagers with lower takeout to increase churn.

Reduced takeout worked in New York long term on an experimental basis decades ago, but current, short-sighted practitioners everywhere are unwilling to accept short term revenue declines. As the Bloviater-Elect might tweet, #stupid!

Written by John Pricci | Comments (35)

Masochistic BC ban should be the model for drug offenses

The Breeders' Cup has introduced a new penalty for drug violations. They are banning Masochistic from competing in next year's events. This is an idea that deserves wider consideration. If owners knew they would not only lost a purse but also the use of their horse, they would not be so tolerant of cheater trainers.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (6)
Pegasus stuck on 7 but has only 2 who matter

The Pegasus missed out on a couple of attractive starters when the connections of Midnight Storm opted to keep him in California and Gun Runner became locked into the Fair Grounds by an EHV-1 quarantine. But the big two, California Chrome and Arrogate, are still on target for the Jan. 28 super race. The $12 million stakes might be leaving Gulfstream after one year for the greater capacity of Santa Anita, according to a Stronach Group executive.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (12)

Interesting, Puzzling Year for Eclipse Award Voters

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., January 2, 2017—In a recent online poll, roughly three out of every four respondents thought that 2016 was a good year for racing. In light of what happened between the fences, I agree.

There were many great performances and memorable moments. As for the rest of the year, we have chronicled the game’s shortcomings here too much already, so we’ll await another time, another day for that.

Please note, however, I must disagree with those who posted that a good number of categories with respect to making cases for 2016’s Eclipse champions were open and shut. Far from that, in our view.

Either way, here is what one final ballot looked like for the racing year 2016 and the thinking process behind some of our choices. But first, our annual disclaimers that all folks who care about such things should know.

As one of the late, great founding members of the National Turf Writers once counseled, there are no rules: “The Horse of the Year can be anything,” said Joe Hirsch. The same applies to other categories; some champions are obvious, others in a beholder’s eyes.

But what it shouldn’t be is a popularity contest or a predictor of who will win. It should be about voting your conscience in the face of peer pressure and regionalism. To wit:

When one California-based horseman was polled on Horse of the Year, his response was: “California Chrome, Art Sherman’s my man.” Friendship and loyalty are wonderful things but Sherman could have gotten this support on the merits: Superb management!

Here, then, is one man’s ballot. [Voters must cast a 1-2-3 vote in order for the category to count or he can abstain].

Written by John Pricci | Comments (9)
Handicapping Great Dr. Harris Never Stopped Learning

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., New Year’s Day, 2017—Upon hearing of the passing of Russ Harris at age 93 earlier this week, I took to Twitter and wrote: “Must confess that as a competitor in the same market, Russ Harris made me a better handicapper. RIP Mr. Harris, my friend.”

Twitter might be all that’s needed for discussing world affairs but it doesn’t begin to tell the story of public handicappers, their trade, or their history.

Back in Harris’ New York Daily News heyday, everybody’s world was simpler. Life was good growing up in Queens and, if memory serves, I believe there were 13 daily newspapers available in the five boroughs, including morning and evening editions.

The Morning Telegraph broadsheet, the East Coast version of tabloid Daily Racing Form, was 25 cents, a nickel more than the today’s Rainbow Six or Canadian superfecta.

Returning home from high school and later from my first job at a bank, I always bought the afternoon edition of the New York Post where the early results from Aqueduct or Belmont, sometimes four or five race, were right there on the back page.

The results of the daily double, the only multiple wager at the time, was the big news, however. Even if it weren’t, the great columns of turf writer Bill Rudy and those of two of the best columnists of their time, Pete Hamill and Larry Merchant, were more than worth the effort.

By the time I traveled 17 stops on the GG local from Clermont Ave. in Brooklyn to 74th Street in Queens, and after four more stops on the #7 train 103rd St. Corona Plaza, my world was complete.

Those were the days my friend, I thought they’d never end.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (19)

New York State Government Dithering

ELMONT, NY, January 10, 2017 – Finger Lakes Gaming and Race Track is in a heap of financial trouble. The upstate track, in Farmington, NY, opened in 1962, and may not make it much further than its 55th year.

The foremost problem for Finger Lakes is the $440 million del Lago Resort & Casino based in Waterloo, NY, scheduled to open next month. The casino is an hour’s drive from the racetrack.

Most casinos have supported racetracks in this state and rightfully so. Casino interests have used racing’s presence to grandfather through additional gambling. Del Lago, however, has no such ties since the Seneca Nation has exclusive casino rights in its region.

The problem became twofold when the Finger Lakes Horsemen Benevolent Protective Association held out on a contract regarding simulcast revenue. Late Tuesday afternoon a tweet appeared from Finger Lakes Gaming indicating they had reached an accord, and simulcasting will resume on Wednesday, January 11.

Finger Lakes was New York’s first racino but racetracks are restricted by law from expansion since only video lottery terminals are permitted in racinos. Del Lago, conversely, is a full service Las Vegas style casino.

So that’s the issue: VLT’s vs full service casinos. What’s truly problematic is that what happens at Finger Lakes can be a harbinger of how things might go at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has a bill on his desk [S7918A] now that would reprivatize the New York Racing Association if he signs it by the end of this month.

Cuomo stated in 2012, after he wrested control of NYRA, that he would reprivatize NYRA in three years. We are now into year five and Cuomo still hasn’t kept his word on reprivatization.

If the past is prologue, and past performances are a truer measure than words, this bill will remained unsigned.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (23)
L’Affaire Masochistic Was Completely Avoidable

ELMONT, NY, December 27, 2016--Anabolic Steroids are performance enhancing drugs. Why they are still allowed boggles the mind. Thoroughbred racing in America is a sport with a poor public image and industry regulators have accomplished little to correct a problem that never goes away.

The perception is that we drug race horses without regard for their welfare for financial gain, whether via purses or wagers. Then we compound the problem at the end of their racing careers by allowing them to starve or sending them to slaughter houses.

Racing’s optics are horrible and that’s no way to run a sport.

Anabolic steroids were first synthesized in a Swiss laboratory in 1934. Its misuse in Thoroughbred racehorses was first reported in 1941.

Seventy-five years later, racing is still suffering scandals related to the drug and half efforts to rid the sport of anabolic steroids after such a long run seem insincere at best.

Trainer Ron Ellis used a performance enhancer while training Masochistic up to the Breeders Cup Sprint.

In the final analysis, Masochistic tested positive when less than 200 picograms [a picogram is one-trillionth of a gram] of stanozolol remained in blood and urine samples taken after he finished second on November 5 at Santa Anita Park.

Ellis gambled on race day and lost, and so did the entire sport of Thoroughbred racing. A system that continues to allow events like this to occur is one that has gone terribly wrong.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (19)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Gulfstream Today 1.16.17

Monday’s Rainbow 6 Solved for $72,179 Jackpot Payoff
Super Hi-5 Carryover of $8,289 Slated for Wednesday’s 1st Race

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 was solved for the second time in three racing days Monday at Gulfstream Park, producing a jackpot…

Jan 17 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Green Gratto fends off late charge to win G3 Toboggan

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Green Gratto surged to the early lead from the inside post, set the pace and outkicked a charging All Star Red in deep stretch to capture the 124th running of the Grade 3, $125,000 Toboggan for 4-year-olds and up on the inner dirt track Monday at Aqueduct Racetrack.


Jan 17 | Categories: Aqueduct, |
Gulfstream Today 1.15.17

Triple Crown Prospect Gunnevera Gearing Up for G2 Holy Bull
Impressive Edge a 3-Year-Old of Interest after Maiden Win
Rainbow 6 Carryover, Super Hi-5 Carryovers for Monday’s Holiday Program
Luis Saez Makes Four Visits to Winner’s Circle Sunday


Jan 16 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
G1 Winner Noble Bird in Pegasus Mix Following Sunday Breeze

California Chrome Exits Work in Good Order
Argentine Star Eragon also well after his Pegasus move

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - John C. Oxley’s Noble Bird, whose multiple graded stakes wins include the 2015 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1), is under consideration for the $12 million…

Jan 15 | Categories: Gulfstream, |

HOT SPRINGS, AR (Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017) – A return to Hot Springs brought Terra Promessa back to her winning ways as she scored a front-running victory in Saturday’s $125,000 Pippin Stakes in front of 16,000 on-track fans. The four-year-old Curlin filly, winner of last year’s Honeybee (G3) and…

Jan 15 | Categories: Oaklawn, |
Tommy Macho Powers to Win G3 Hal’s Hope Despite Trouble

Recovers from Stumble to Earn Third Career Graded Victory

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Paul Pompa Jr. and J Stables’ Tommy Macho recovered from a stumble on the far turn to split horses turning for home and power down the stretch for a 5 ¾-length victory in the $150,000 Hal’s…

Jan 15 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Flatlined Comes Alive in Saturday’s G2 Fort Lauderdale

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Trainer Scooter Dickey had every reason to think that the best was yet to come from Flatlined when he saddled the 5-year-old son of Flatter for Saturday’s $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2) at Gulfstream Park.

“The Flatters just get better with age, like I…

Jan 15 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Sandiva wins Marshua’s River (G3) for second year in a row

Mare may race once more in Suwannee River before being bred

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – After Sandiva’s dull effort in the Diana at Saratoga Race Course this past July, trainer Todd Pletcher decided to give the mare a freshening with an eye on the Gulfstream Park Championship…

Jan 15 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
$150,000 Marshua’s River (G3) Quotes

Trainer Todd Pletcher (Sandiva): " “She just needed a little freshening. She had a solid campaign and she seemed like she was just a touch off form and we knew that she loves Gulfstream. We kind of intentionally freshened her up with these races in mind.”

“She is versatile enough…

Jan 14 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Breaking Lucky paddock schools in advance of Pegaus World Cup

Pegasus connections get to see horse for the first time
Contenders Keen Ice, Neolithic Breeze Saturday

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Pegasus World Cup contender Breaking Lucky became acquainted with the Gulfstream Park paddock Saturday afternoon, and at the same time some…

Jan 14 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
California Chrome Draws a Crowd for Pegasus Workout

Argentine Star Eragon Preps for Jan. 28 Event with 4F Breeze

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – California Chrome attracted a crowd for his first workout over the Gulfstream Park track Saturday morning, when racing’s most enduring star breezed five furlongs in preparation for the…

Jan 14 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
California Chrome Scheduled for Public Workout Saturday

‘Breakfast at Gulfstream’ Marks Occasion with 7:00 a.m. Start
Argentine Star Eragon Also Set for Pegasus Work Saturday

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – California Chrome will command undivided attention at Gulfstream Park Saturday when thoroughbred racing’s most enduring…

Jan 13 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)