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

Perfect 10 Success a Longshot

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., October 19, 2014—Betting’s been in the news in recent days; all kinds of news, all kinds of bets, in all kinds of places. Let’s start here, or should I say west of here in Miami.

Gulfstream management is calling it the Perfect 10: 10 races, 10 winners, 10 percent takeout—10 winners, not 4, not 5, not, 6 but 10?

I understand why Gulfstream is doing this. The Rainbow 6 proved such a promotionally successful, financial windfall that there made be more gold in them there multi-race gimmicks.

And it was successful even after the minimum was raised to 20 cents, even it chased many rank and file players until the carryover reached such proportions that they felt compelled to jump back in, lured by four-figure consolations after the dead-money pool reached seven figures.

This latest variation on the life-changing-score theme appears to be a trail balloon to see whether there’s another mother lode of handle out there.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (2)
Cigar Smoked in Moderation, Winning Races One at a Time

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., October 11, 2014—My first recollection of Cigar, the horse that would become a present day Thoroughbred legend, is best described as a holy excrement moment.

After all, this was a well-bred underachieving turf runner, eligible for non-winners of 2 in his 14th start--back when secondary allowances actually filled—making his return to dirt, a surface over which he had broken his maiden in his second career race.

Switching to an up-and-coming rider named Mike Smith, Cigar led the flat-mile throughout with a half-mile gambit of 44.76 en route to an 8 length romp in 1:35.78; very impressive, indeed. But who could have known there would be 15 more to follow?

Fifteen, in a row, 12 of them Grade 1. And he didn’t just win those races; he dominated them, trackmen around the country underscoring that assessment, describing eight of those wins this way:

“Drew off.” “Dueled; drew off.” “As rider pleased.” “Much best.” “Cruised in hand.” “Easily.” “Gamely.” “Handily.”

Then came the hot-paced pressure in the Pacific Classic, a little SoCal home cookin’, and here comes Dare and Go.

And there goes the streak.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (2)

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)

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 (42)
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 (0)

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)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
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)
SHARED BELIEF CONTINUES PREPARATION FOR CLASSIC

SHARED BELIEF CONTINUES PREPARATION FOR CLASSIC
WITH SHARP FIVE-FURLONG DRILL AT GOLDEN GATE FIELDS


ALBANY, Calif. -- Shared Belief, who is expected to be favored in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 1, continued his preparation for the 1 1/4-mile…


Oct 14 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, | Comments (0)
$50,000 Guaranteed Pool in Thursday’s Rainbow 6 at Gulfstream Park West

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - Gulfstream Park West's 20-cent Rainbow 6 will have a guaranteed pool of $50,000 when racing resumes Thursday.

The Rainbow 6 carryover jackpot is paid out only when there is a single ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 percent of…


Oct 14 | Categories: Gulfstream West, | Comments (0)
Quotes from the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup

Bill Mott (winning trainer of Crown Queen)

“We ran her a couple of times as a 2-year-old, and (owner) Mr. (Ben) Leon wanted to give her some time over the winter to mature and grow up a little bit. It’s worked out perfectly. He made a good call, and she’s undefeated this season and…


Oct 12 | Categories: Keeneland, | Comments (0)
Knickerbocker (G3) Quotes

Niall Saville, winning trainer of Legendary (No. 6): "This is my first graded stakes; this horse won my first stake a month ago [Japan Racing Association Stakes at Parx Racing]. I'm very, very pleased. I was a little nervous with the long stretch here, but they weren't catching him. It's a huge honor…


Oct 12 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Simulcast Wagering Issues

October 10, 2014

Statement by Gulfstream Park President Tim Ritvo on Resolving Simulcast Wagering Issues

Gulfstream Park management was made aware of a unique situation that made it difficult the past two days for some bettors at simulcast facilities around North America to…


Oct 10 | Categories: Gulfstream West, | Comments (0)
Maryland Million Pre-Entries

MARYLAND MILLION PRE-ENTRIES INCLUDE BEN’S CAT, EIGHTTOFASTTOCATCH & ROADHOG

LAUREL, MD. 10-10-14---The Laurel Park racing office announced this afternoon that a total of 188 pre-entries were named to the nine stakes races which comprise the 2014 Jim McKay Maryland Million.


Oct 10 | Categories: Laurel, | Comments (0)