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.


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.


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

Derby starting gate shouldn’t have a back door

Dubai Sky and Firing Line both came up big last weekend to clinch Kentucky Derby starting berths. But Dubai Sky did it on an artificial surface and Firing Line went to the middle of nowhere to crush a field of nobodies. Meanwhile others will be slugging it out in races like the Florida Derby, Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial to win their right to run for the roses.This isn't right. Also, Kentucky horsemen are objecting to the reasonable proposal that tracks be allowed to write races for horses whose connections are willing to compete without Lasix. What is it the naysayers fear?



Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (13)
Upstart draws outside No. 9 for Florida Derby

Rick Violette wasn't thrilled when Upstart drew the outside post 9 for Saturday's Florida Derby. But the colt who has finished first in a couple of Gulfstream stakes this winter will make his final Derby prep in the $1 million stakes. Todd Pletcher has the early second and third choices in Itsaknockout, who was put up to first on the DQ of Upstart in the Fountain of Youth, and Materiality, who is two-for-two in his brief career.

HALLANDALE--It’s a good thing Saturday’s Florida Derby drew only nine entrants. Upstart drew the outside post for the mile-and-an-eighth $1 million stakes and his trainer, Rick Violette, said if it had been the 11 or 12, he might have been getting on a plane.

This was a light-hearted reference to Violette wavering for weeks about whether to make Upstart’s final Kentucky Derby prep in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream or the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct a week later.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (0)

Moving Parts But No Change at Top of HRI Derby Power 10


HALLANDALE BEACH, March 22, 2015—Pretend for a moment you own Dubai Sky. Would you have spent your hard-earned $6,000 to nominate your horse to the Kentucky Derby? Before you answer, check the Spiral Stakes replay for yourself.

Do you spend that money only to find out that your three-year-old is unable to match up with the best of his generation on the dirt? Well, with the March 23 nominations deadline, the owners are expected to do just that.

A short trip down memory lane might be helpful here. Consider that only Needles and Animal Kingdom won the big race coming in off a six-week break. History is not on his side and neither is the unknown of unknowns—his suitability to dirt.

But he’s now won four straight dating back to September of his two-year-old year and on Saturday won his first race ever over an all-weather surface.

Looking at raw times, it took Animal Kingdom 1:52.32 to win the 2011 Spiral Stakes, the slowest renewal ever, but Dubai Sky won his edition with authority, saving no ground at all, getting the trip in 1:50.26, a heartbeat away from the stakes record.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (3)
HRI Derby Power 10, Week 2: #1 With a Bullet


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., March 16, 2015—Some people have all the luck; others have a stranglehold on HRI’s Week 2 edition of the Kentucky Derby Power 10.

As a three year old debut, a comeback race from an injury, a sloppy-track trial, or a paid public workout over a handful of rivals, American Pharoah made his competition look overmatched. He was nothing short of awesome taking Saturday’s Grade 2 Rebel Stakes.

Recovering deftly, showing athleticism following a bobbling start in which he partially pulled off his right front shoe, the colt’s brilliance took over while racing as kindly as you will ever see from a front-running winner.

There were times on the backside when American Pharoah appeared to be absolutely galloping, responding only when Victor Espinoza moved his hands slightly.

Can you say pushbutton?


Written by John Pricci | Comments (3)

H Allen Jerkens: Humble Greatness

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla., March 20, 2015—The news that The Chief passed away yesterday was not unexpected. I asked his son how his dad was doing when I saw him in the Gulfstream paddock last Saturday. “He’s in rough shape,” Jimmy Jerkens said.

Infections at the age of 85 are not trifling things, and while he died in a hospital in South Florida, it could not have been more appropriate that the news was broken to me via a New York Racing Association press release.

He loved New York and he loved New York racing. Oh, he spent his winters in South Florida but most years, the glory years, he came for the season and not a reason. He knew the horses needed some down time. So do legendary horsemen.

Then, when he returned to New York in the spring, his horses would run right off the television screen.

You likely will read this everywhere so you might as well read it here, too. The sport will never see his kind again.

The Charleys, the Woodys, and now the Chief; they’re all gone. They’re part of racing’s past, a legacy that will not be shared someday by the successful corporate trainers that dominate today’s national stage.

Losing the Chief is more than the end of an era. A sport struggling to maintain its relevancy lost more than that yesterday. This wasn’t death by a thousand tiny cuts, something the game has struggled with; this is one giant loss.

Better still, the loss of a giant.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (6)
Saturday in the Parks

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., March 15, 2015—Despite the awful weather in Hot Springs and the glorious atmospherics in South Florida Saturday, it was an excellent day of racing in both spots. Let’s begin locally.

On its face, it didn’t seem to be much of a Saturday-type card at Gulfstream Park, until the racing started that is.

There were no graded stakes, in fact, there were only two 75-granders, the kind of stakes program that only Mr. Corrow could love.

But as long as there are maiden allowance types all over the program and gates full of turf runners, Gulfstream Park will always have an attractive Saturday card for fans and bettors alike.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (3)

A Quixotic Quest for Quality via Quantity

LOS ANGELES, March 19, 2015--The strategy of saturating selected Saturdays with graded stakes seems to be gaining strength within several racetrack ownership domains.

It appears to be succeeding in increasing the sport's exposure as well as the handle generated on those dates, but it remains to be seen whether interest in betting on thoroughbred races has actually been expanded in the process--and if total overall handle has increased as a result.

Santa Anita Handicap day has traditionally been an exercise in stakes-stacking but with somewhat static results. Approximately 5,000 more people came out to watch Shared Belief demolish a less than stellar field in the Santa Anita Handicap last Saturday than came to see him face off with California Chrome in the San Antonio Handicap four weeks earlier.

But that was still almost 15,000 fewer than the 40,810 who showed up on opening day to see him narrowly defeat an unheralded band of sprinters in the Malibu.

However, this was about 1,000 less than the 27,121 at last year's Big Cap for the anticipated rematch between Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge that turned out to be Game On Dude's finale, too. Both year's all-sources handle was just under $15 million.


Written by Indulto | Comments (2)
A Cross Country View from the Left Coast

Los Angeles, February 11, 2015—When the sprint-sharpened Shared Belief sat off a snail's pace and collared the questionably-conditioned California Chrome in the final furlong, it appeared that a tighter, more confidently-ridden Horse of the Year contesting the lead earlier with faster fractions could have been closer at the finish.

As such, the issue of individual superiority between the two rivals has yet to be settled in my view, and until their common conqueror Bayern re-enters the picture, so do future divisional rankings appear a work in progress.

Other than Bayern's stablemate Hoppertunity, the Grade II invitational event at Santa Anita offered little competition for the two superstars who both eschewed acquisition of a Grade I title scheduled less than an hour earlier cross country at Gulfstream Park.

I found it hard to believe that Bob Baffert thought he had a shot with his second-string in the San Antonio and that he was blowing a G1 opportunity for Hoppertunity facing what looked like, on paper, weaker Eastern opposition.

That suspicion was strengthened when Constitution, beaten by Hoppertunity in last year's G1 Clark Handicap, captured the Donn Handicap. That result drove Baffert's folly down to 5-1, enticing me to save with him in a superfecta over the dynamic duo, with the remainder fourth, for a fraction of my investment in a no-brainer universally-cold trifecta that came to fruition, albeit just barely.

In attempting to create a coast-to-coast success by showcasing the sport’s best older horses, The Stronach Group (TSR) somehow managed to avoid separating its brightest stars. In response to an expanded wagering opportunity and extended live television coverage, a somewhat disappointing 21,522 fans watched the centerpiece event live. Further, the $500K guaranteed Cross Country Pick Four betting closed $27,000 short of projections.


Written by Indulto | Comments (23)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Louisiana Derby Week Notes: Thursday, March 26

• Slumber Looms Large in Muniz
• Stanford, Divine Oath and Red Rifle Ship Well for Pletcher
• Lovely Maria Likely for Ashland
• Grade I-winning Turf Mare La Tia Retired




Mar 27 | Categories: Fair Grounds, | Comments (0)
Florida Derby Notes 3.26

Materiality Following Familiar Path to Florida Derby
Florida Derby Performance to Decide Ami’s Flatter’s Stakes Future
Romans Fillies Facing Off in Gulfstream Park Oaks
$500,000 Late Pick,$300,000 Pick 5 Florida Derby Day

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Last March, trainer Todd…


Mar 26 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Gulfstream Florida Derby

Upstart, Itsaknockout Clash Again in $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby

Grade 1 Triple Crown Prep Highlights Saturday’s 14-Race Program with Nine Stakes

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Ralph M. Evans’ Upstart figures to be very popular at the betting windows at Gulfstream…


Mar 26 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Louisiana Derby Week 2015 Notes: Worktab Report

LOUISIANA DERBY

A DAY IN PARADISE – Monday, five furlongs in 1:00 flat (4/16) – Larry Jones –“He worked really well. He’s coming in as well you can hope for, like all of my horses on Saturday. We know we’re being ambitious with him, but when you run for that kind of money there…


Mar 26 | Categories: Fair Grounds, | Comments (0)
Louisiana Derby Post Position Quotes

POST 1 – STANFORD (Florent Geroux, 5-1)
Todd Pletcher (trainer) – “(I’m) happy with the post. He will likely be forwardly placed.”

POST 2 – MR. Z (Kent Desormeaux, 4-1)
D. Wayne Lukas (trainer) – “I don’t think it makes too much of a difference. There’s a…


Mar 26 | Categories: Fair Grounds, | Comments (0)
Oaklawn Barn Notes - Wednesday, March 25

Sprint Champion Work All Week Gets Back to Work

Reigning male sprint champion Work All Week had his first published workout since winning last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint Wednesday morning at Oaklawn. Breezing over a fast-rated surface, and after the renovation break, Work All Week covered…


Mar 26 | Categories: Oaklawn, | Comments (0)
My Point Exactly Set for Return in Florida Derby

Kaplan Trainee Slated for Start in Gulfstream's Signature Race off Long Layoff
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL -- My Point Exactly is scheduled to run in the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park on March 28 off an impressive stakes debut victory last time out. The 3-year-old gelding…


Mar 21 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
ST. JOE BAY LIKELY FOR LOUISIANA DERBY

Altamira Racing Stable and David Bernsen’s St. Joe Bay is likely to return to Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots from his California base for the Grade II $750,000 Louisiana Derby on Mar. 28, according to conditioner Peter Miller. The dark bay son of Saint Anddan set a quick pace while hounded by 111-1…


Mar 21 | Categories: Fair Grounds, | Comments (0)
American Pharoah Set to Return for Arkansas Derby

Champion American Pharoah will be returning to Oaklawn for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11, owner Ahmed Zayat said Friday afternoon.Among the country’s leading Kentucky Derby candidates, American Pharoah opened his 2015 campaign with a front-running 6 1/4-length victory in last Saturday’s…


Mar 21 | Categories: Oaklawn, | Comments (0)
Upstart Readies for Final Florida Derby Breeze

BOYNTON BEACH, FL – Lambholm South Holy Bull (G2) winner and Besilu Stables Florida Derby contender Upstart will have his final pre-race breeze for Gulfstream’s signature event this weekend, according to trainer Rick Violette, Jr.




Mar 20 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
WAR STORY BULLETS IN FINAL LOUISIANA DERBY WORK

Loooch Racing Stables and Chris Dunn’s War Story put the finishing touches on his preparation for the Grade II $750,000 Louisiana Derby (Mar.28) on Wednesday morning with a bullet work in :58.80 over the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots main track for trainer Tom Amoss. Working early in the morning,…


Mar 20 | Categories: Fair Grounds, | Comments (0)
Oaklawn Barn Notes - Thursday, March 19

Far Right Works toward Arkansas Derby Start

Far Right continued preparations for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11 by working five furlongs after the renovation break Thursday morning at Oaklawn under Greta Kuntzweiler. Far Right, who worked in company with stablemate Peteizum,…


Mar 19 | Categories: Oaklawn, | Comments (0)