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

A throwback to my previous life

What do racing fans do when they're not handicapping or betting? Probably 99% watch television. It's a slow week in racing, awaiting the Breeders' Cup pre-entries, so I'm going to digress one time only and go back to my previous life as a TV critic.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (3)
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 (44)

Marc Lawrence College and Pro Upsets, Oct. 16-20

NORTH CAROLINA over Georgia Tech by 6

Despite a monumental effort in last week’s 50-43 loss to Notre Dame in South Bend, USA Today Sports has still picked North Carolina as 2014’s biggest disappointment: “After tabbing UNC as a potential ACC and major bowl contender – again – perhaps we’ve all learned our lesson.” Okay, we’ll admit the Tar Heels have failed to git ‘er done under HC Larry Fedora but if anyone’s going to be down in the dumps at Chapel Hill today, our vote goes to the Bumble Bees. Thanks to three huge turnovers in their loss to Duke (Tech had turned the ball over just four times in their fi rst fi ve games), the Jackets are an offi cial ‘Bubble Burster’ (5-0 or greater perfect season ruined in a straight-up favorite loss) and we’re not going to try an revive them. Meanwhile, the 2-4 Tar Heels fi nd themselves in an eerily similar situation to last year when they posted five consecutive SU wins after a 1-5 start to qualify for the Belk Bowl. Fedora owns a stylish 5-1 ATS mark versus a foe off a SU favorite loss and his Heels have gone 4-0 ATS of late as home dogs versus an .800 or better opponent. No doubt the visitors will get their yards as Paul Johnson’s spread-option offense should move the ball against a UNC ‘D’ allowing 192 rushing YPG but with the Wreck now 1-4 ATS in the first of back-to-back road games – plus 2-7 ATS after dealing with Duke – we’ll look for Carolina to fully awaken from its season-long slumber and take a big step toward becoming bowl eligible. Whether the spread is pick, plus or even minus, we’re sticking with the Tar Heels.


Written by Marc Lawrence | Comments (0)
Marc Lawrence College and Pro Upsets, Nov. 8-13

Duke over Georgia Tech by 8


Yes, despite a 4-1 SU mark, the Blue Devils’ lackluster performance against the Canes has them dropping from everyone’s radar – and yes, they really haven’t played anybody besides Miami. It’s also true that the Dukies have taken it on the chops each of the last six meetings in this series (ever since David Cutcliffe came aboard in Durham). But Cutcliffe is also 8-2 SU and 6-2-1 ATS off his initial loss of the season – including 4-0 SU and 3-0-1 ATS on the road – and he’s 5-1-1 ATS as an avenging road dog of less than 8 points in an ACC contest. We think it’s a little premature to write off a team that went to the conference championship game last year. In addition, the SMART BOX reminds us the Yellow Jackets are indeed another ‘5-0 Fat Cat’ and in this case, one that is 0-5 ATS when riding a win streak of five games or more. Paul Johnson is 7-11-1 ATS in the second of consecutive home games, including 0-5 SUATS in that role the last five times out. As usual, our well-oiled machine supplies The Clincher: College football Game Five conference road dogs off their first loss of the season are 16-2 ATS since 1980 when facing a winning opponent off a SUATS win.


Written by Marc Lawrence | Comments (0)

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 Gardens.

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 may be more gold in them there multi-race hills.

And it was successful even after the minimum was raised to 20 cents, even the increase 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 had reached seven figures.

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


Written by John Pricci | Comments (5)
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)

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
Keeneland Statement Regarding Kentucky Race Dates:

Keeneland understands and appreciates the conflicting interests and priorities that have resulted in the recommended schedule of racing dates for the late summer and early fall of 2015. While we accept the decision of the Race Dates Committee for the coming year, the Commission needs to know that we…


Oct 21 | Categories: Keeneland, | Comments (0)
SHARED BELIEF DRILLS IN 1:14 2/5 FOR $5 MILLION BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC

ALBANY, Calif. -- Shared Belief, in his longest workout leading up to the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, drilled six furlongs in 1:14 2/5 handily on Golden Gate Fields’ Tapeta racing surface Tuesday.

Shared Belief will be the favorite in the Grade 1 Classic, the main event of the…


Oct 21 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, | Comments (0)
Gulfstream Receives Record 5,356 Stall Applications for Winter Season

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Gulfstream Park announced today it received a record 5,356 applications for the 3,800 stalls available at Gulfstream, Palm Meadows and Gulfstream Park West for its Championship Meet.

The Championship Meet, which begins Dec. 6, will feature 67 stakes races - 37 graded…


Oct 21 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
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)