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
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

How About Preps for Belmont Fall Three-Year-Olds?

ELMONT, NY, September 27, 2016 – In 1971, Philadelphia mayor James Tate unexpectedly resigned from his third term and appointed Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo as his replacement. Many questioned the legality of the move but no one legally challenged it.

Rizzo had the reputation of being a notorious cop who left a brutal legacy. Like George Wallace before him and now Donald Trump, Rizzo preyed on white working-class fears of the city's rising violent crime rate and made no bones about his racist distaste for blacks.

"Just wait after November, you'll have a front row seat because I'm going to make Attila the Hun look like a faggot," he said of his enemies during his 1975 re-election bid.

Another move of Rizzo's was to increase taxes. So much so that Thoroughbred racing pulled out of Liberty Bell Park and Keystone Race Track was quickly constructed on the site of a pig farm in Bensalem Township, just north of the city line about 3 miles from where Liberty Bell once stood.

Keystone opened in November of 1974 with all the charm of a strip mall. In fact, because of the large “K” attached to the grandstand, many people dubbed it the K-Mart of racing.

Now renamed Parx Casino and Racing, the track was the site of last weekend's major Thoroughbred races, including the Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion Stakes of course, the latter a hold-over from Liberty Bell.

But here’s a question: How can a second-tier track eclipse racing at Belmont Park? The answer is that the New York Racing association offers no races for 3-year-olds of either sex on dirt at its Belmont fall meeting.

Now that's a serious hole in the NYRA's stakes schedule.


Written by Mark Berner | Comments (8)
The Dog Days of Belmont Fall

ELMONT, NY, September 13, 2016 – My friend and colleague, the late Bill Leggett, a multiple Eclipse Award winning turf writer while at Sports Illustrated--when racing was still considered mainstream--had a theory that turnstiles didn’t go far enough.

What was lacking, Leggett thought, was that the counter lacked a mechanism that would flip customers over to empty their pockets before sending him back out the same way he came in, thereby eliminating the parimutuel middle man.

When he made that comment Leggett was referring to the turnstiles at Belmont Park. My snarky reply was “NYRA won't be happy until no one comes.”

Leggett’s theory and my reaction were made during a different era, under a different NYRA regime. However, it came only 10 years after the New York Racing Association opened its new Arthur Froehlich-designed building in 1968.

If you attended opening day at Belmont Park last Friday, you could have witnessed for yourself that NYRA appears to be closer to reaching the goal of zero than it ever has in its history.

While Leggett's prophecy is close to reaching fruition downstate, the exception continues to be in Leggett’s hometown of Saratoga Springs.


Written by Mark Berner | Comments (24)

Impending Danger: Industry Needs to Heed Worrisome Trend

LOS ANGELES, September 26, 2016—Horseplayers didn’t just lose an advocate this week, they lost an activist. Motivations vary, but activism generally requires passion, dedication, commitment, and sacrifice to be effective. There is a price to be paid for such expenditure of personal resources, and Lenny Moon finally decided that price was too high.

Unlike some of his predecessors, Moon didn’t pass away or even fade away. Though not explicit, his final blog piece, "Crossing the Finish Line, suggested he succumbed to his obsession with the game.

The volume of sympathetic comments to that piece, including some from well-known internet voices, were not only a testament to his popularity but also indicative of how frequently horseplayers struggle to balance their passion for the game with their family responsibilities.

Among what he counted as his successes, he wrote:

"The organization that most resonated with me and my belief system regarding horse racing was HANA, the horse player founded group that is the voice of the customer in the industry. I wrote for their free monthly newsletter for the past several years, which provides more value than anything else the industry puts out and it’s not behind a paywall. I helped get out the word when they convinced a few tracks to lower their takeout rates. Most importantly I worked hard with them to punish Churchill Downs for raising their takeout rates. The tens of millions of dollars in lost handle that first year and each year since are proof that I was on the right side."

That wasn’t always the case.


Written by Indulto | Comments (27)
Can Breeders’ Cup Think Outside the Box?

LOS ANGELES, September 10, 2016--Following Arrogate’s Travers victory, Bob Baffert announced he would train the colt up to the Breeders’ Cup thereby signaling Juddmonte’s implicit willingness to pay $150K for the privilege of entering the BC Classic starting gate.

Although the prestigious Travers amply rewarded the winner with $670K, it was not a Classic Win-And-You’re-In (WAYI) as was the Haskell. Indeed, the latter at 9 furlongs is the only WAYI for three-year-olds despite the Travers’ 10 furlongs as the Classic.

Six berths in the Classic’ starting gate have already been spoken for by Moanin (February S. [Tokyo]); Bradester, (Stephen Foster H.); Melatonin (Gold Cup at Santa Anita); Exaggerator (Haskell); Frosted (Whitney) and California Chrome (Pacific Classic).

Two remain up for grabs, the Awesome Again and the Jockey Club Gold Cup with California Chrome targeting the former and a $1M bonus sweetener, so unless you want a piece of Chrome before the big dance, there’s really only one way to go.


Written by Indulto | Comments (13)

Special Report: Pennysylvania Derby Day a Family Affair

By Zac Coffman
Special Correspondent


BENSALEM, PA., September 24, 2016--Parx was in the national spotlight Saturday as they hosted the annual Pennsylvania Derby Day card, this year featuring a three-year-old championship duel between Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and Preakness winner Exaggerator.

Walking through the crowd early in the day, however, you could have questioned whether this rivalry should have graced the billboards promoting the day’s events, or maybe it neither of them. Maybe it should have been the filly Songbird all along.

Arriving at the track two hours before first post - it was great to see the entire apron filled with excited fans, young and old, something you barely see enough of nowadays—watching the elders introduce their youngsters to the game.

Once they day got started, bettors dove into the day’s program, sharing opinions not only with other bettors that came to see the spectacle but, more importantly, getting some special selections from their kids--like sixth race third-finisher Here’s a Jetpack at 55-1!

From the opener, it was impressive to see rail positions completely filled, especially since Parx is infamous for having one of racing’s highest takeout rates, a contributing factor as to why the track struggles to fill even half the rail on a normal race day.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (7)
Some Positive News for a Change

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., September 19, 2016—The recently concluded meet at Kentucky Downs is a trend-busting phenomenon that represents a victory for racing because it’s a winner for the player.

Not that winning money there is easy; winning is never easy. But you’ve got a chance to make money because true value is available and the interest is there because, on balance, horseplayers love turf racing.

With record purses attracting full fields, Kentucky Downs closed its five-date boutique meet September 15 with total wagering up nearly 34 percent, an astounding figure. Compared to last year, which was great, it was equivalent of an added sixth day.

Betting on the closing program was $3.6 million, bringing all-sources handle to $22.5 million for 2016. Not bad for a five-day meet spread over two weeks at a track in the middle of nowhere battling significant major league competition.

I played and lost, but am looking forward to the 2017 session. I wagered three days, lost two, and nearly won enough the third day when, forgetting to take my stupid pills, nearly got even for my personal incursion into the Kentucky countryside.

Form-wise, my only beef is that results there reflect parimutuel feast or famine. On one hand, bettors get solid prohibitive choices at greater than odds-on, e.g. Kitten’s Cat comprehensive victory at 5-2.

But there are too many more examples where complete chaos rules. That’s the good news and bad news about $130,000 two- and three-year-old maiden races on grass.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (62)

Pennsylvania Derby All Stakes Pick 4

Reprinted Courtesy of Promotional Agreement with http://www.123BET.com

LAST WEEK WOODBINE MILE PICK 4 SEPTEMBER 17, 2016

RACE 9 Maiden Claiming 6-1/2 Furlongs

5-Ratface Macdougall (6-1) Been showing improved speed with each subsequent start, just missing in last. Has bullet work for this but added sixteenth unlikely to help. Recent blowout fastest of 10 for the week here. (won, 6-1)
8-Sir Bronx (3-1) Carroll barn en fuego recent and is 35% effective with its beaten claimers. Late developing 3YO gelding has improved since dropping to this level for last two. Solid works and Contreras on a return call; obvious must use. (2nd, 5-2)

RACE 10 Grade 1 NORTHERN DANCER 1-1/2 MILES TURF

7-The Pizza Man (8-1) Hasn’t delivered [sorry] since taking Del Mar G2 last fall. Prolific winner is a worthy (9) 3-0-2 at the trip but has not hit the board in either WO appearance. Recent AP work 4th fastest of 47 peers last week. (won, 5-1)
4-Wake Forest (5-2) Talented but has been somewhat enigmatic this season despite winning G1 Man o’ War this spring at Belmont. Solid recent works since tough-trip Million try and gets switch to Irad. Anticipating big last-run finish. (2nd, 5-2)

RACE 11 Allowances 1-1/16 MILES

3-Milwaukee Mist (4-1) 1-for-1 following barn change to Attfield who enjoys success going turf to AW, this runner’s preferred surface. Raffy Hernandez looking for repeat winning ride. (won, 7-2)
1-Cito (8-1) Barn is profitable with its AW performers but has struggled this meet. Three lifetime wins here and loves the trip with five exacta finishes including two wins. Just missed vs. weaker in last but Da Silva sticks; mixed signals. (2nd, 7-1)

RACE 12 Grade 1 WOODBINE MILE TURF

8-Tepin (1-2) Queen of the Turf, literally and figuratively, seeks eighth straight victory, fifth G1 since streak began last fall and her third over males. Wisely given time following arduous Queen Anne score. Outside draw provides Leparoux with options. Obvious one to beat, but this still a prep for defense of 2015 Breeders’ Cup Mile title (won, 2-5)
1-Tower of Texas (20-1) Finished well too late [see replay] when second in G2 Play King prepping for this August 20, a race producing one next-out winner from two starters. Won the King Edward at the trip last year... (2nd, 23-1)
2-Mutakayyef (7-2) Has been a different horse this season, winning Group 2 Summer Mile two back before a very game third vs. Postponed in York’s G1 Juddmonte International. Two of three lifetime wins at this trip and reuniting with winning partner O’Neill. Serious rival (3rd, 3-1)

* * *

RACE 8 Pennsylvania Derby Champion Stakes 3 & UP 1-1/16 MILES


1-Cyrus Alexander (6-1) Recent Longacres Mile is a key race producing two next out winners from three returnees. Makes mini-stretch to best trip [(5) 2-2-0], tactical speed, pole position, purposeful strong workline with Hollendorfer reaching out for Bejarano.
2-Encryption (9-2) Two-for-two on this quirky surface, was ambitiously spotted in recent MTH Grade 2. Breen is worthy 3-for-7 shipping to this venue from the Shore. Freshened, owns two recent bullet works and has run well beneath recent sensation Nik Juarez.
3-Bodisattva (10-1) is 4-for-7 at the route--1-for-15 doing anything else--and was third in stamina-building 12 furlongs over the track. Sheds five pounds and both wins this summer have been beneath Taylor Hole.
4-Res Judicata (4-1) A four-time winner here, was second at the trip last out. Won G3 Salvator Mile at MTH three back, has tactical speed, inside draw with John Servis switching to Javier here. Set for best from barn that’s 27% effective with beaten favorites.
5-Mr. Jordan (2-1) Hails from Plesa barn that’s worthy 27% in non-graded events, benefits from mini-two-turn turn-back and Paco on a return call. Very sharp blowout for this but acts best as a need-the-lead type.
6-War Story (12-1) Triple Crown-trailer at 3 was out of his element vs. California Chrome in Pacific Classic following sloppy-track score in Randall, Ohio. Gets prolific Parx veteran Pennington in the boot for barn that’s 29% profitable with new acquisitions.
7-Tale of Life (3-1) Won Spa finale going 9 furlongs and has been effective at today’s shorter trip. Motion barn going very well at the moment, has worked purposefully at Fair Hill base and gets switch to Geroux. Placed well and owns competitive Pricci Energy Ratings and on positive Thoro-Graph line


Written by John Pricci | Comments (5)
Woodbine Mile Late Pick 4

SEPT. 10 KENTUCKY DOWNS LATE PICK 4 WINS & NOTABLE FINISHERS

Reprinted By Promotional Arrangement with http://www.123BET.com


Race 7 MORE THAN READY STAKES 1 MILE

3-Watchyourownbobber (3-1) turns out to be yet another brilliant turf claim by Maker. Hard Spun 4YO has become a turf machine [(13) 6-3-2], is 2-for-4 at the trip and exits Mountaineer route that’s produced three next-out winners from as many starters. (won, 1-1)
7-Songsational (6-1) placed gamely in Saratoga’s Troy Stakes last out, comes up to added distance nicely for Mott, who taps Geroux for this. Recent bullet was 4th fastest of 69 peers this week at Belmont Park. (2nd, 9-2)

Race 8 ONE DREAMER STAKES 1 MILE 70 YARDS


7-Lots o’ Lex (10-1) gets back to reality after attempting G1 Beverley D in last for Aschinger, who’s 22% in LAY-2 scenarios and a worthy, profitable 24% with his shippers. Channing Hill has enjoyed prior success at this unusual configuration. (won, 12-1)
6-No Fault of Mine (3-1) is remarkably versatile 4YO that handles all surfaces—including turf in lone try at the trip. Has been toughened recently in series of graded events and attracts Geroux, 4-for-12 for this outfit in 2016. Logical favorite. (2nd, 2-1)
1-Fleet Birdie (12-1) carefully pointed here by LoPresti for longtime clients, drew off impressively to beat NW2 in Indiana Grand turf debut this June. Training well at KEE base for barn that’s batting 19% with repeaters and which has them ready off the bench. (3RD, 6-10

Race 9 Grade 3 KENTUCKY TURF CUP 1-1/2 MILES

7-Da Big Hoss (7-5) has proven amazing acquisition for Maker. Never-been-better 5-year-old is 3-for-5 at this trip, 1-for-1 at KD, and a winner of four of his last five beneath ‘Flo’. Worthy 125-pound highweight is handier than it appears on paper. (won, 1-2)
2-Bullards Alley (10-1), a G3 winner at CD this summer, was third in his lone start on this course with Glyshaw tapping regular partner Pedroza. Late developing, gelded 4YO has won at the trip and owns two strong 5F blowouts at CD base for this. (2ND, 18-1)
1-Rum Tum Tugger (30-1), a winner at this trip, is in from Saratoga for Sheppard, 1-for-1 with his only other KD starter to date. Legged up vs. tough set in the Johns Call last out, attracts BJ and merits super-exotics attention at anything near early line odds. (3rd, 60-1) [TRI: $354.80]

Race 10 KENTUCKY DOWNS LADIES SPRINT 6-1/2 FURLONGS

3-Mississippi Delta (5-2), a winner in her only start at trip, is multiple graded stakes-placed; Casse/’Flo’ team en fuego this year. Freshened at his CD base, is working well for this pointed placement. Worthy favorite has laudably versatile running style. (won, 3-2)
2-Rapid Rhythm (10-1) is versatile, hails from excellent connections but lacks experience on this course and at hybrid trip. Julien 1-for-2 for this outfit in 2016. (2nd, 10-1)
1-Rumble Doll (6-1) was narrowly beaten when fast-finish third at Spa now ships in for sharp young connections enjoying uncommon success with its turf runners. Was good second at Belmont three back in Belmont’s 7F Intercontinental augurs well. Attracts hot-riding BJ. (3rd, 6-1) [TRI: $214.00]

* * *


WOODBINE MILE PICK 4 SEPTEMBER 17, 2016


RACE 9 Maiden Claiming 6-1/2 Furlongs


1-River Ring Echo (20-1) Bred for speed on both sides of pedigree and dam has thrown a winner from as many starters. Barn’s horses outrunning their odds in 2016 but rider hitting at 4% this meet and gets the pole.
2-Butler’s Pick (7-2) Chased a solid pace in state-bred MSW debut and settled for place once beaten, ridden out only. Working purposefully since, switches to Da Silva and gelding drops into claimer here. Live.
3-Immaculate Inning (20-1) Lacks both nature (4% debut sire) and nurture (barn 5% on debut). Pedigree suggests more ground, too.
4-Fo’c’sle (15-1) Returns for Casse/Husbands team on high-profile day for recent Canadian Hall of Famer. Missed the break in only start as juvenile now returns for 3YO debut for outfit that’s 22% efficient with second-time starters. Must use.
5-Ratface Macdougall (6-1) Been showing improved speed with each subsequent start, just missing in last. Has bullet work for this but added sixteenth unlikely to help. Recent blowout fastest of 10 for the week here.
6-Just Reno (8-1) Reunites with McAleney and barn’s horses have been outrunning their odds this year. Willing third vs. five rivals in open special-weights last out following poor start behind recent repeat winner; interesting.
7-Splash With Me (10-1) Gained conditioning with improved try going two turns last time now makes sensible turnback while adding blinkers. Moran sticks.
8-Sir Bronx (3-1) Carroll barn en fuego recent and is 35% effective with its beaten claimers. Late developing 3YO gelding has improved since dropping to this level for last two. Solid works and Contreras on a return call; obvious must use.
9-Teiaiagon (4-1) Barn struggling this meet but has enjoyed success with runners going turf to AW. Shorter trip and rider switch should help, as does recent addition of blinkers. Strong wakeup potential.
10-Archer Triumph’s (12-1) Finished well too late following poor start in open debut now gelded 4YO drops in with Canadian breds and gets positive rider switch to Garcia. A player here.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (14)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Three Rules, Cajun Delta Dawn Breeze For Oct. 1 Florida Sire Stakes

Undefeated Juveniles Eye Series Sweeps on $1.6 Million Stakes Card

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Undefeated Three Rules and Cajun Delta Dawn breezed at Gulfstream Park Saturday in preparation for Florida Sire Stakes sweep attempts next Saturday on a program featuring eight…


Sep 25 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Belmont Park Notes, Sunday, September 25

Brown's fleet preps for "super" Saturdays; Connect in good form following upset victory in Pennsylvania Derby
• Pletcher readying Ectot, J.S. Choice, Off the Tracks, Theory, Nonna Mela, Cherry Lodge, Syndergaard, et al for upcoming stakes engagements
• Effinex and Shaman Ghost…


Sep 25 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Mrs McDougal goes gate-to-wire to win G3 Noble Damsel

ELMONT, N.Y. - Mrs McDougal started strong and held off all challengers in the seven-horse field for a gate-to-wire victory in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Noble Damsel for fillies and mares at Belmont Park.

Breaking from post 5 under Irad Ortiz, Jr., the Chad Brown-trained daughter of Medaglia…


Sep 25 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Churchill Downs Stakes Recap & Quotes

MINES AND MAGIC WINS SATURDAY NIGHT’S $100,000 DOGWOOD;
ARABIAN HORSE OF THE YEAR PADDYS DAY ROLLS IN PRESIDENT OF UAE CUP

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016)
– G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s homebred Mines and Magic muscled her way through an opening at the top of the…


Sep 25 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Friday at $58,000

Super Hi 5 Carryover

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Gulfstream Park’s 20-cent Rainbow 6 will have a carryover Friday of $58,649.90.

Multiple tickets Thursday with six winners returned $3,094.78.

First race post time is 1:15 p.m. Friday’s Rainbow 6 sequence starts…


Sep 22 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Churchill Downs Stakes Advance

EMMZY ATTEMPTS TO LAND FIRST STAKES WIN IN SATURDAY NIGHT’S DOGWOOD

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016)
– Zayat Stables LLC’s Indiana Oaks (Grade II) runner-up Emmzy landed the outside post in a field of eight 3-year-old fillies as she attempts to land her first stakes…


Sep 22 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
Double Pick 6 carryover of $106K on tap Friday at Belmont Park

ELMONT, N.Y. - The Pick 6 eluded bettors for the second consecutive day on Thursday at Belmont, triggering a two-day carryover of $106,527 into Friday's card.

Thursday's Pick-6 began with Sweetrayofshine's ($5.90) win in Race 5, followed by 43-1 longshot American Mink ($89.50) upsetting…


Sep 22 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Mrs McDougal looks for another graded stakes win in G2 Noble Damsel

ELMONT, N.Y. - Mrs McDougal will look to add a second graded stakes victory to her ledger as she headlines a field of eight fillies and mares 3-years-old and up in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Noble Damsel at Belmont Park.

A 4-year-old, Mrs McDougal will gain class relief after back-to-back…


Sep 22 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Rises to $41,185 for Sunday’s Card

Super Hi-5 Carryover of $5,383 for First Race
Trainer David Braddy Notches Win No. 999
Tyler Gaffalione Rides Four Winners

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL
– The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved for the sixth straight racing program Saturday at Gulfstream Park, producing a $41,185.45…


Sep 18 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
A family affair: On Leave makes the grade in G2 Sands Point

ELMONT, N.Y. - Stuart Janney III's homebred On Leave kept her 2016 record intact with a 2 ¾-length front-running victory against 3-year-old fillies on the turf in Saturday's featured race, the Grade 2, $500,000 Sands Point at Belmont Park.

On Leave broke alertly under jockey Jose Ortiz…


Sep 18 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Not This Time Dominates Iroquois

NOT THIS TIME DOMINATES IROQUOIS AT CHURCHILL DOWNS;
TAKES ‘ROAD TO THE DERBY’ LEAD, EARNS TRIP TO BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016)
– Albaugh Family Stable’s homebred Not This Time, a half-brother to last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt…


Sep 18 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
Strong 2-Year-old Program Makes Gulfstream a Track for All Seasons

Three Rules, Cajun Delta Dawn, Gunnevera Lead Class of ‘16

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL
– A sensational day of racing on the Sept. 3 Florida Sire Stakes (FSS) program contributed significantly to the growing realization within the Thoroughbred industry that Gulfstream Park no longer has…


Sep 16 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)