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

Horsemen Support, er, Don’t Support, Lasix Ban--What’s Happening Here?

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, August 1, 2014—And I thought the big news this weekend was going to be the Grade 1 Whitney, with the Alfred G. Vanderbilt and Test Stakes in support. And what a great card it will be for fans and bettors alike tomorrow at the Spa.

Instead, it was announced in a statement received by Daily Racing Form that, with the support of trainers Wayne Lukas, Todd Pletcher, Bill Mott, Shug McGaughey, Christophe Clement, Graham Motion, Richard Mandella, Kiaran McLaughlin, Neil Drysdale and 16 others, horsemen would support the gradual phase-out of Lasix use on raceday.

The statement indicated that many of the game’s most influential horsemen, who manage the careers of horses belonging to many of the sport’s most prominent owners, would support the gradual phase out of the diuretic starting with next year’s juveniles, with a complete ban by 2016.

However, at the same time Daily Racing Form was carrying this version of the story, it was reported in the Daily News that Pletcher is, in his own words, “pro Lasix,” and that “nothing has changed for me,” he told Jerry Bossert. Mott was also quoted by the News to say “they are taking something away that is available to horses and horsemen for their benefit.”

What’s going on here? The DRF indicates one thing; the Daily News the other. Where is this statement? It wasn’t in my inbox. And was it really necessary for this story to break like bad political news does, late on a Friday afternoon?


Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)
Fillies Make News at the Spa; Two Good, One Not

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, July 31, 2014—When women do well in this game, it no longer comes as a surprise--but it is unusual to see two Saratoga stakes swept by the female persuasion, albeit one doing the saddling, and the other doing the riding.

In the case of the former, Tom Voss is somewhere smiling, that’s because Elizabeth, the daughter of the late, great steeplechase horseman—who did some pretty good work on the Spa flat, too--saddled her first graded stakes ever this afternoon.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)

Johansson v Takter v All in Hambleltonian

Story by Rich Fisher

The fact that trainer Nancy Johansson will make her Hambletonian debut against her dad, Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter, is one of the big storylines entering Saturday’s race.

And while Johansson understands and appreciates the interest, it’s not something that’s really on her mind. Especially since, hey, there will be other trainers there too!

“It’s no different to race against him than anybody else,” said Johansson, who trains Hambletonian starter Resolve, adding with a laugh. “It’s a horserace, there has to be other horses in there. He’s one of the top trainers with one of the biggest barns, so I expect him to be there.”

The two have teamed up for previous Hambletonian success, as Nancy was the caretaker for Takter’s 2010 winner, Muscle Massive. She grew up learning the trade under Jimmy, who also won the 1997 Hambletonian with Malabar Man, having said in the past “I tell people that from going to my dad’s ‘school’ I got a PhD in training.”

But neither wants to mix business with pleasure, especially when it comes to head-to-head competition.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)
Hambletonian Attracts 11 – Wagerng Format Announced

With 11 horses entered in The Hambletonian, the three year old colts will go straight to the Final worth $1,006,125. The Hambletonian will be carded as race 13 on the 15 race program.

The Jimmy Takter trained trio of Father Patrick, Nuncio and Trixton will headline the field for the 89th American Trotting Classic.

Joining those three are Datsyuk, Don Dorado, Doncango, Harper Blue Chip, Il Sogno Dream, JJ Alex, Resolve and Royal Ice.

The Hambletonian post position draw will take place at 4PM at Victory Sports Bar along with the draw for The John Cashman Memorial and Hambletonian Oaks.


Written by Darin Zoccali | Comments (0)

Bayern creates a wonderful dilemma for Baffert

The racing season doesn't end with the posting of the official at the Belmont Stakes. This past weekend set the stage for a scintillating fall, with the dazzling Bayern and workmanlike Wicked Strong throwing their hats into the 3-year-old-division ring, although any 3-year-old will have to do extraordinary work to overtake California Chrome. Also, in spite of not hitting the board in the Haskell, Untapable remains a formidable force looking ahead to the major distaff races.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (1)
NJ hellbent on adding sports betting to tracks


New Jersey is not letting a rebuff from the courts derail its plan to add sports betting to the menu at race tracks and casinos. Marijuana is against federal law, too, but the government is looking the other way at that. The belief is the same thing will happen if and when New Jersey begins taking bets on games, possibly as soon as the first week of the NFL season.




Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (5)

L’Affaire Martin: Del Mar Wants It Both Ways

SARATOGA SPRINGS, July 15, 2014—This time, it was the other, silent member of “Dumb Ass Partners,” Perry Martin, who jumped ugly on the subject of dual Classics winner and 2014 Horse of the Year co-favorite, California Chrome.

Yes, this is the same man that blew off the Preakness in a fit of Derby pique and who recently raked Del Mar over the coals for having the temerity to suggest that “America’s Horse” be honored with a parade between races on Pacific Classic day.

The story has been told in different precincts and in disparate versions and there seems to be enough “blame” to go around about a much-ado-about-very-little incident that became front page racing news because Kentucky Derby winners always are.

And that’s especially true this time when the Derby-Preakness winner’s story didn’t end on the sand and loam of Belmont Park but rather on the front page of national and network media after Steve Coburn’s meltdown following Chrome’s crushing Triple Crown defeat.

Finally, with his wife at his side like some politician who got his business caught in some cookie’s jar, Coburn, after doubling down on his post-Belmont rant the following day, made a humbling, tearful apology before a network audience the day after that. It was a case of all's well that ends.

If anything, Coburn’s knee jerk tirade and Martin’s insensitivity indicates that it just might be harder for connections of any good horse to hold their best form for over two months than it is for their equine athletes. Clearly, it was time for a badly needed freshening.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (8)
Will Del Mar Horseplayers Double Their Pleasure?

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, July 11, 2014—There’s a rumor being circulated on the Internet that the Thoroughbred Owners of California are considering a return to the higher takeout rates on Daily Doubles currently in place at Del Mar.

This can’t possibly be true, can it? Don’t they read newspapers out there? Has Internet commentary and social media reached lower California yet?

Hasn’t any owner out West ever heard of Churchill Downs?

Takeout deniers, much like climate change “non-scientists,” believe more in spin than science, coincidence over statistics, and obfuscation over progress. However anyone spins it, the Churchill Downs boycott was largely responsible for handle losses of $48-millionat the 2014 spring meet.

The Dow Jones is hovering around 17,000 for a while now, California Chrome gave the sport a bounce, in a Wall Street sense, this spring, and fields are smaller everywhere.

So, what else could it be?


Written by John Pricci | Comments (19)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Smirnoff Sorbet Caress Quotes

Ian Wilkes, winning trainer of Free as a Bird (No. 3): "She broke a little further back than I thought. She was always traveling; I thought it would be a good test for her. I think she's very comfortable with horses in front of her. She finished strong. The filly's been doing extremely well. This year,…


Aug 2 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Saratoga Race Course Notes, Friday, August 1

• Wise Dan to skip G2 Fourstardave; G2 Bernard Baruch, G1 Woodward, G1 Woodbine Mile all possible for champion's next start
• Falling Sky confirmed for G1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt
• Bahamian Squall, second in 2013 Vanderbilt, makes second start off the bench in 2014 edition
• Fiftyshadesofgold…


Aug 2 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Honorable Miss Handicap (G2) Quotes

Danny Gargan, winning trainer of R Free Roll (No. 3): "We knew [going to the lead] was the only way we were going to beat [La Verdad]. We took control of the race and made her have to chase. That was the game plan, and [R Free Roll's owner Rich Averill] is a pretty smart handicapper, and he's a pretty…


Jul 29 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Shuvee Handicap (G3) Quotes

Kiaran McLaughlin, winning trainer of Antipathy (No. 3): "It was a great performance. Team McLaughlin needed a win; we haven't run that many live ones. We were real happy to get a win. She's a well-bred filly for Godolphin, and now she has a Grade 3 win to go along with a Grade 1 placing. I thought she…


Jul 28 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Saratoga Race Course Notes 7/27

• Tonalist "comes back in good order" following runner-up finish in G2 Jim Dandy
• Kid Cruz emerges from Jim Dandy in good shape
• Vyjack likely to return to sprinting in the G1 Vanderbilt
• Merry Meadow set to contest G2 Honorable Miss on Monday
• Dutrow marks G1 Ketel…


Jul 27 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Amsterdam (G2) Quotes

Rosie Napravnik, winning jockey aboard Coup de Grace (No. 4): "He's a very nice horse. I spoke to Larry [Jones] this morning and rode him with a lot of confidence. He did it easily today."




Jul 27 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Quotes from Competitive Edge’s 10 ¼-length debut win

Todd Pletcher, winning trainer of Competitive Edge (No. 9): "He has never disappointed us in anything that he has done, literally, from the first time we breezed him. He continually showed us he's a very talented colt, and every time we did something with him it was impressive. So we had high hopes coming…


Jul 27 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Saratoga Race Course Notes 7/26

• Palace Malice leads group of horses working for the G1, $1.5 million Whitney
• Departing works half-mile in 48.79 seconds for Whitney
• Moreno pleases Guillot with Whitney work
• 2012 Travers winner Golden Ticket breezes over Oklahoma for Whitney
• Itsmyluckyday turns…


Jul 27 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Saratoga Race Course Notes: July 25

• Wise Dan logs effortless five-furlong work; possible for G2 Fourstardave or G2 Bernard Baruch
• 2012 Travers co-winner Golden Ticket pointed toward G1 Whitney
• Velazquez, second in 1995 jockey foot race, tries again in 2014 edition
• Quick Call winner Pure Sensation a result…


Jul 26 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Antipathy finds softer spot in G3 Shuvee

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - After holding her own at 30-1 in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on June 7 at Belmont Park, Antipathy will take a significant drop in class for the Grade 3, $200,000 Shuvee Handicap for fillies and mares on Sunday at Saratoga Race Course.

Fortunately for Antipathy, she…


Jul 26 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Saratoga Race Course Notes: Thursday, July 24

• Commanding Curve confirmed for G2 Jim Dandy
• Dilger, Anstu looking for more Spa stakes success with Big Guy Ian
• R Free Roll, now win Gargan, seeks graded stakes win in G2 Honorable Miss
• Class drop does the trick for Artemis Agrotera in Wednesday allowance
• Brown,…


Jul 24 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Lake George (G2) Quotes

Graham Motion, trainer of winner Daring Dancer (No. 2):
"[Jockey] Alan [Garcia] said she never picked up the bridle [in the loss at Belmont, when fifth in the Wonder Again]. I honestly believe it had to be the soft ground. I was having kittens in the paddock here when it started to rain, because…


Jul 24 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)