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

Espinoza got off easy with only seven days


Santa Anita stewards wasted no time in slapping Victor Espinoza with a seven-day suspension for his ride on Sky Kingdom in the Awesome Again in which the regular rider of California Chrome's sole purpose seemed to be to get Shared Belief beaten. Espinoza's defenders say he was only race riding but the fact that he has chosen not to appeal is revealing.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (2)
Shared Belief steals the show on a day of stars


Shared Belief was awesome again in the Awesome Again. Overcoming a nightmare trip, he was more awesome than ever in gutting out his seventh straight win. In spite of Tonalist 's facile score in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Shared Belief heads toward the Breeders' Cup one of the biggest favorites on racing's biggest day.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (11)

Smarty’s Belmont Controversy: The Aftermath, Part V

Smarty Jones’ bid at the Triple Crown ended just a length short. Years later, the memory remains, and so too does Smarty’s resonant effect on the world of horse racing.

Four years later Big Brown was a live threat to win the Triple Crown. The memory of Smarty’s run was still fresh in everyone’s mind. He was the last horse that had a chance to do it.

Pat Forde, an ESPN.com senior writer then, wrote a piece titled “Ganging up on favorite isn’t unimaginable at Belmont.”

The idea is sinister. It’s sporting sacrilege. But it’s a question that needs to be asked.

Would someone actually enter the Belmont Stakes with the intention of making massive favorite Big Brown lose the Triple Crown rather than with the intention of seeing his own horse win?


Written by Brendan O'Meara | Comments (4)
Belmont Day: Smarty Jones & Racing History, Part IV

Smarty Jones had delivered in the first two legs of the Triple Crown. The Smarty Party was in full force and there was just one race to go. The weight of history and the Triple Crown lay before Smarty Jones if he could just hold on—and hold off—any late charges.

The 1 ½ miles of the Belmont Stakes was all that stood between Smarty Jones and immortality. It promised to be the toughest challenge of his career. If he could just hold onto his winning form for one more race…

For months, all the Chapmans heard was that Smarty didn’t have the pedigree, that he’d run into a wall sooner or later. Yet here they were—a win away from being the racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner.

Deep down, Roy thought that someday, somewhere, he’s going to get beat. He only had to wait three more weeks now to wait.
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Written by Brendan O'Meara | Comments (5)

What’s the Better Bet: Horses or Sports?

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, September 12, 2014---Our friends next door in the Garden State New have been making wagering news of late.

What with New Jersey’s fiscal crisis and recent credit downgrade, Governor Chris Christie, coincidentally or not, has decided to roll the dice—those that remain—on sports betting.

Legalizing marijuana would have been far more profitable and probably would have a better chance to be ignored when it comes to the enforcement of federal law.

But the sports leagues lobby is very strong and they are against legalized gambling. The leagues cite the “integrity of the competition” and they correctly figure that the courts will favor the power of corporations over the power to the people.

"Ignoring federal law, rather than working to reform federal standards, is counter to our democratic traditions and inconsistent with the Constitutional values,” Christie wrote when he vetoed proposed sports gambling legislation.

Of course, he’s really no different from most pols. Doesn’t it always work like this? You’re for something until you’re against it but now you’re for it again.

We’re sure legislators from all over the U.S. are shocked to learn there’s gambling going on in the sports world. The hypocrisy from all levels of government to the leagues themselves is as astounding as it is predictable.

For about a month, my local radio sports station, WOFX-980 AM, has been running ads about fantasy football, to the effect that “you don’t have to wait until season’s end to see if you won because there’s a new cash contest every week.”

I guess the authorities figure it’s just like betting on the horses, only with people.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (9)
We’re Not Guests, We’re Customers

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, September 8, 2014--I’m a Bill Shanklin fan and have been for some time. A creative Lexington-based marketer, some of the more inventive ideas I have encountered in this business seems to have originated with him.

This time, however, I think he missed the mark. Oh, he’s correct when he posits that racing needs to cultivate the horseplayer but, if takeout is the issue, his focus is on the wrong type of player.

His idea of the ideal target, the whale, has no incentive to see takeout lowered since the high rates in place ultimately fuel his rebates.

If takeouts were lowered across the board, increased participation would affect the nigh-volume bettor in a more meaningful way because “square money” would be back in play.

Fresh betting capital would allow the deep-pocketed player to make up for smaller rebates because his expertise and bankroll leverage could buy more big-payout pools, especially fueled by carryovers.

Lower takeout, in addition to keeping active players liquid longer, would give way to marketing campaigns that attract new bettors who don’t mind mixing a little intellect with their action.

But until the current customer base is maintained and new ones are created, added liquidity won’t happen, and whales will begin to cannibalize each other, a process already underway.

As this trend continues and grows, when the whale’s perceived edge becomes smaller and smaller, they’ll move on to the next big gambling scheme.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (29)

Bayern Gets Some Help, Leaves Chrome in His Wake

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, September 20, 2014—There are several questions that need answering in regard to the return of dual classics winner California Chrome in the Pennsylvania Derby Saturday at Parx Racing.

Was his defeat a function of pace? Was he too discouraged by continually having the door slammed in his face when he tried to get out of the box being sealed by Edgar Prado throughout the million-dollar nine furlongs?

Was he simply a short, tired horse when he began to shortening stride with about three-sixteenths of a mile remaining, fading back to sixth without being abused by Victor Espinoza in the final sixteenth?

Was there any discomfort from the hoof that required mending after he grabbed himself in the Belmont Stakes?

Is his pedigree beginning to catch up with him after a tough classics campaign, or was he an early developer conditioned by racing and now is starting to go the other way.

My hope is that it’s A and B, not C and D, while all of the above remains in the mix. Since he appeared to be traveling well and comfortably throughout, a dislike for the surface is an unlikely culprit.

"The other riders, they worried about me, they didn't worry about the one in the front,” said Espinoza. “I knew I was in trouble in the first turn. They were like blocking in front of me. Sometimes the other ones don't ride to win, they ride to beat horses."


Written by John Pricci | Comments (8)
Parx Getting the California Chrome Treatment

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, September 16, 2014----The publicists have been touting this Saturday as the most important day in Pennsylvania racing history, and the truth is that the notion is more fact than fiction.

After all, the Kentucky Derby winner is coming to town to run for a lot of money in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby that on paper is more than a bridge to the Breeders' Cup Classic.

And a Derby winner has never will have run in this event until four days hence. Further, it will be a good spot to find out whether the California Chrome of fall is the same vintage as the California Chrome of spring.

What do you think?


Written by John Pricci | Comments (6)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) Quotes

Christophe Clement, winning trainer of Tonalist (No. 8): "I probably should have removed the blinkers before the Travers. He, obviously, was a bit too aggressive in the Travers. Even so, he didn't quit. I love the way that, even when he got beat in the Travers he went on to the wire."




Sep 28 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) Quotes

H. Graham Motion, winning trainer of Main Sequence (No. 5): "What a cool horse. Ironically, I thought he ran his most professional race today and then you had the bump right before the wire."




Sep 28 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Flower Bowl (G1) Quotes

Chad Brown, winning trainer of Stephanie's Kitten (No. 9): "She got a beautiful trip, and I'm really proud of this filly; she deserved to get a good, clean trip. That's the third race in a row for us that I felt she ran terrific. She was a little unlucky in the Beverly D. and Diana, and this time [jockey]…


Sep 28 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Beldame (G1) Quotes

Rudy Rodriguez, winning trainer of Belle Gallantey (No. 7): "It's very, very special. We're working very hard with these kinds of horses and thank God they did it. I don't know what to tell you. I'm speechless."




Sep 28 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Kelso Handicap (G2) Quotes

Rudy Rodriguez, winning trainer of Vyjack (No. 3): "Today, the key was coming out of the gate. Today, he broke good. I was very pleased with the way he was working in the morning, and I was happy to see him win because he'd been training very, very well in the mornings. Going a mile, he doesn't have…


Sep 28 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Churchill Downs Stakes Recap

CIGAR STREET SMOKES 'EM IN $135,500 HOMECOMING CLASSIC AT CHURCHILL DOWNS

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014) - Cigar Street, owned by Jake Ballis and NBA star Rashard Lewis, was eager to run early but waited until midway around the far turn before taking command and turning back…


Sep 28 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
AWESOME AGAIN STAKES QUOTES

JOCKEY QUOTES

MIKE SMITH, SHARED BELIEF, WINNER: “They tried to use some tactics on me which made the win today even sweeter. They just kept taking me wide, taking me wide, and I believe if you want to press the pace or take me out a little bit, OK. But doing it at all costs just to get…


Sep 28 | Categories: Santa Anita, | Comments (0)
Main Sequence aims for third straight G1 in Joe Hirsch Turf Classic

ELMONT, N.Y. - Since arriving in the United States earlier this year, all Main Sequence has done is win Grade 1 races. On Saturday, the English-bred gelding will be favored to make it three in a row in the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic for 3-year-olds and up at Belmont Park.




Sep 26 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
GULFSTREAM TODAY 9.25

Friday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Pool Guaranteed at $50,000
Zimmerman Enjoys Working Holiday in Trinidad and Tobago
Apprentice Fontanez Makes Three Visits to Winner's Circle


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved for the sixth straight program at…


Sep 26 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Churchill Downs Barn Notes: Thursday, Sept. 25

DEPARTING SEEKING A RETURN TO TOP FORM IN HOMECOMING CLASSIC

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014) – Coming off an eighth-place finish in the $1.5 million Whitney (Grade I) at Saratoga on Aug. 2, Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing is seeking a return to top form in…


Sep 26 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Churchill Downs Stakes Advance

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014) – Michael Langdon’s improving Carve has won four races and nearly $500,000 in a “career year” in 2014, and is the early favorite to add another significant win to his finest racing season when he takes on five rivals in the second running of the $125,000-added…


Sep 26 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
Stopchargingmaria to face elders in G1 Beldame

ELMONT, N.Y. - Sitting on a three-race streak, Stopchargingmaria is familiar with finding her way to the winner's circle. In order to make it four in a row, however, the 3-year-old filly will have to conquer a new challenge.




Sep 26 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)