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'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

In Need of HRI Faithful Feedback on Possible New Product for 2018

I didn’t intend to go public with these results but since I’m always looking to earn by creating useful new products, I thought it was time to try something different and frankly, can use your input.

I have a Horses to Watch betting methodology that has worked well for over four decades and, in a vast majority of this years, has yielded profitable results. I thought, why not share?

Needless to say this takes time and dedication to produce and I’m not giving “expertise” away for free. So I’m begging your indulgence and will explain further.

If you are personally interested, great. If not, your opinions would still be invaluable to me. My teeth aren’t getting any shorter. I don’t have time to waste.

I was one of the original trip handicappers in the early 1970s. It helped land me a job as Newsday’s first Thoroughbred racing handicapper, that and a Sunday column of which Horses to Watch were a popular segment.

I prided myself on knowing how to watch races, insights gleaned from countless harness racing nights at Roosevelt and Yonkers Raceways. It was my life back then and trips were everything.

In the day, I remembered all that I saw. Now, observations must go into a computer file, on convenient work sheets or handy scraps of paper, old school style. Either way, the process is all too familiar:

Write down the name, the trip note, in short-hand symbols provided me by a professional gambler from Manhattan, Paul Mellos, who also taught me about the nuances of pace.

Any horses that made the list I bet back three times regardless of how they looked on past performances. You read that correctly; blind betting on past observations, no handicapping required.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (16)
Where Players Bet Matters

Despite excellent racing and full-court-press promoting by TVG’s wall-to-wall coverage, the message being sent by boycotting horseplayers is being heard loud and clear.

Having said that, I predict that today’s handle will be up over last year’s, thanks to a six-figure Pick Six carryover, a pool that features $1 wagering and not the standard $2 in non-jackpot scenarios.

But that, too, is beside the point.

While unofficial handle at racing’s other top tier venues, Belmont Park and Santa Anita is up significantly, Keeneland’s is down considerably by comparison for the period of OCT 6 through OCT 15.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (38)

Vegas resort fees illustrate why Keeneland boycott is crucial

When racetracks want to squeeze more money out of customers they raise the takeout, as Keeneland has done this fall. Las Vegas has its own version of this, "resort fees." These add-on charges started in the $10-$15 range. Visitors accepted the increases without meaningful pushback, so the hotels consistently increased these fees to as much as $40-plus per night and they seem to go up every year. This is why the Keeneland boycott must succeed. If it doesn't, racetracks everywhere will feel confident they can kick up their takeouts with impunity.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (17)
Three races to look forward to at the Breeders Cup

The beauty of the Breeders' Cup is every race is a beauty. But some are more beautiful than others. Three weeks out, a trio of Breeders' Cup events stand out for their competitiveness and championship implications: the Classic, the Distaff and the Juvenile. The Classic will almost certainly produce the Horse of the Year, best older dirt horse and perhaps the 3-year-old championship. The Distaff should settle the older Filly & Mare division and likely the 3-year-old filly title. The Juvenile will be an East-West showdown with an Eclipse on the line between a pair of colts, whose breeding and running styles should put them at the top of next year's Kentucky Derby contenders.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (28)

With Respect to Running Times, Racing Has a Crediblity Gap

While parimutuel takeout and the Keeneland boycott have dominated the discussion in recent weeks, there is a matter of urgency that not only effects horseplayers but the very foundation and history of Thoroughbred racing itself: The timing of races.

Whether it is how one horse matches up against another in today’s race, or whether Arrogate is the historical equal of Seattle Slew, visual interpretations notwithstanding, it is axiomatic that running time is the only absolute truth in the game.

Presently there is credibility crisis in terms of how accurate the running times you see posted on the tote board and in past performances are. This has been at issue for several years, the most egregious example being the incorrect time of the 2017 Pegasus.

This week, however, the prominent Pace Advantage, a prominent racing message board, and Twitter has blown up because of the incorrect timing issues that have occurred with regularity at the current Santa Anita race meet.

Timing and past performance company Trakus published three charts from this past Saturday without running times listed, including intra-race fractions and final clocking, because the originally posted times were inaccurate.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (18)
Horseplayers No Longer Crying in the Wilderness

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But in this case it’s more about the horse race industry working at cross purposes with its customers in the interests of commerce than anything else.

In this weekend’s edition of Horse Racing Nation “Insider,” the publication offered “FREE PICKS for KEENELAND STAKES!” Any NCIS fan can quote you chapter and verse Rule #37, according to Special Agent Jethro Gibbs: “There’s no such thing as a coincidence.”

It follows that the Cross-Country Pick 4, combining four Grade 1s at Belmont and Keeneland was also being heavily promoted, including “a 15-1 shot you can’t leave off your tickets,” with FREE Shadwell Mile PPs to sweeten the deal.

This is not meant to assess blame for bet-takers promoting their business but it is interesting that this “Insider” edition happened to coincide with a horseplayer’s boycott at Keeneland which dubiously insisted raised takeout was meant attract the best horses.

As if that weren’t going to happen, anyway. Clearly, this was a move to mirror the higher Churchill Downs takeout rates in place for years now, creating synergy should the two racing behemoths be given permission to encroach on other regional Kentucky tracks.

It would be also fair to ask whether these increases are in place at the Red Mile harness track. Is that Keeneland-owned property also a non-for-profit venture?

The highly touted Fall Champions Weekend that began opening day thus far has played to mixed betting results. Despite record attendance for Friday’ Fall opener, handle was flat year over year.

However, Saturday’s mega-card, featuring an All Stakes Pick Five—two Grade 2s and three Grade 1s--attracted 14.4% less handle than did the same number of races in 2016 and with two more betting interests, according to racing activists.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (27)

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)
The More Things Change…

Thoroughbred racing in the US cannot withstand a hurricane of change. Yet if it does not occur, it will drown in a sea of drugs, deaths and litigation. Its destiny is our hands.

Exposure of extensive drug use was the nadir of the trial and conviction of trainer Murray Rojas in Pennsylvania, equine deaths have tragically been too frequent at Saratoga, and litigation opened Pandora’s Box when Kentucky judge, Thomas Wingate, struck down the absolute-insurer (trainer responsibility) rule in the case of trainer Graham Motion.

Stewart S Janney III, Chairman of the Jockey Club closed its Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing in Saratoga Springs on August 13, with the following remarks.

“What has happened in Pennsylvania recently is disgraceful and sad, especially when you consider that the state is the sixth leading producer of foals and that it hosted approximately 4,000 races and distributed more than 100 million in purses in 2016.

Let's start by focusing on the federal trial involving trainer Murray Rojas on charges of fraud, conspiracy, and misbranding of drugs. I think it illustrates what we have to fix and how our problems interconnect.

Uncontradicted testimony described widespread, in fact, nearly universal, cheating; regulators asleep on the job; a corrupted and ineffectual testing system.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (27)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
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 on Wednesday, October 25

Pre-entered fields for the 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be announced via a live stream on,…

Oct 22 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, |
Handicapping Saturday’s Maryland Million

11 Races, 142 Entries
Salter, Tullock, Ehlis & Courtney Give Longshots, Best Bets
Admirals War Chest Goes for Unprecedented Three-Peat

LAUREL, MD - Saturday’s Maryland Million is more than an opportunity to showcase the progeny of stallions standing in the state.

Oct 20 | Categories: Laurel, |

October 16, 2017 (Washington, PA) – Xpressbet is excited to announce that handicappers will have the ability to play in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) online at

The Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge is one of horse racing’s richest handicapping tournaments,…

Oct 20 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, |
Puerto Rico’s Leading Jockey Diaz to Ride at Gulfstream

First Mount Friday at Gulfstream Park West
Friday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover $71,000

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – Puerto Rico’s legendary jockey Juan Carlos Diaz, the country’s leading jockey the past 16 years and the all-time leader in stakes victories, will begin riding…

Oct 20 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Maryland Million News & Notes

Classic Wildcat Brings Leatherbury Back to Maryland Million
Pikachu Princess Will Race with Blinkers in $100,000 Lassie
Stakes Winner Winplaceorshowono Targets $100,000 Sprint
Live Racing Returns Friday with Carryovers, New Post Time

LAUREL, MD – Few horses…

Oct 20 | Categories: Laurel, |
Empire Showcase Day

Empire Showcase Day features return of the NYRA Bets Late Pick 5 and Belmont Park Live

ELMONT, N.Y. - In addition to eight stakes races worth $1.75 million, anchored by the $300,000 Empire Classic Handicap, Empire Showcase Day marks the return of both the NYRA Bets Late Pick…

Oct 20 | Categories: Belmont Park, |
New York, New York Pick 4 offered Saturday

ELMONT, N.Y. - Racing fans will have the opportunity to wager on a special thoroughbred/standardbred pick 4 on Saturday, October 14, when the New York Racing Association and Yonkers Raceway join to offer the New York, New York Pick 4.

The Pick 4 wager, hosted by NYRA, is comprised of the…

Oct 13 | Categories: Belmont Park, |
Laurel Park News & Notes: Thu 10/5

G3 Winner Just Call Kenny Pointed to $100,000 Richard Small Nov. 11
Unbeaten Margie’s Money Headed for Maryland Million Lassie
Carryovers, First Monday Card Ahead on Revamped Fall Schedule

LAUREL, MD – Multiple stakes winner Just Call Kenny, who became a graded…

Oct 5 | Categories: Laurel, |
Three Grade 1 Races Featured on Fall Stars Saturday at Keeneland

Miss Temple City Bids for Shadwell Turf Mile Repeat
Dickinson Heads Field of Seven for First Lady
Albaugh Family Stables Seek Second Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity Score

LEXINGTON, KY (Oct. 4, 2017) – The Club Racing, Needle in a Haystack and Sagamore Farm’s…

Oct 5 | Categories: Keeneland, |