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

Travers 147: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Hark! The Herald Horseplayer Sings
By Indulto

LOS ANGELES, August 27, 2016--HRI blogger Tom Jicha accomplished what many racing writers attempt but precious few achieve when he presented his analysis for the 2016 Travers.

To me, his unequivocal selection of Arrogate appeared the handicapping equivalent of Babe Ruth’s famously pointing to where he was about to deliver a home run.

While the DRF’s Mike Beer also predicted the son of Unbridled Song’s victory in his "Race of the Day" video, he didn’t match Jicha’s confidence or his vision as follows:
"… Arrogate, at 10-1, is the one who interests me most of anyone in the field. He's never run in a stakes but the stylish way he has won all three of his two-turn races, the most recent at 1-20, suggests still untapped brilliance.

Statistically, Arrogate mirrors the career of American Pharoah. He got beat in his sprint debut but he's been untouchable since. ..."


TJ is my new handicapping hero … at least until next week.

On a track that started to resemble Santa Anita when successive seven-furlong sprints shaded 1:21 on the broadcast timer (but not in the subsequent DRF charts), trainer Bob Baffert previewed his West Coast wizardry with a wire-to-wire win by Drefong in the King’s Bishop under jockey Mike Smith.

When that Hall of Fame duo teamed up again for their Travers triumph, the rider completed an Alabama/Travers double, having won the former with another West Coast sensation, Songbird.


Written by Indulto | Comments (0)
A Legacy That’s Worth Leaving

LOS ANGELES, July 28, 2016—Steven Crist's retirement from the Daily Racing Form qualified him as the most newsworthy development of last week. Though better known as a Daily Racing Form executive and columnist, acclaimed author of betting books and influential horseplayer advocate, he had also worked as a New York Racing Assn. executive under then CEO, Kenny Noe Jr.

In a subsequent Q&A interview by the Thoroughbred Daily News, Crist candidly described the experience: "… It was frustrating. I discovered there was this whole political side to the job. Kenny and I took a lot of early morning plane rides up to Albany to talk to dopey legislators. You had to do them favors or give them things. It was just horrible."

Asked about his impact when writing about New York racing and politics, he replied, "… It’s hard to feel any sense of accomplishment. It just gets worse and worse and it doesn’t matter what they say… they’re never held accountable for anything. What Andrew Cuomo has done, making a deal with NYRA and then taking it back, it’s just disgraceful."

Crist's announcement came on the heels of another news-making development made by friend and former DRF colleague, Charles Hayward. The former NYRA CEO garnered media attention with "the formation of Hayward Advisory Services LLC to assist racing companies grow their business through a strategic planning process and by introducing revenue and cost-saving initiatives."

This is Hayward's next step in an effort to restore his relevance in the wake of attempts to further assassinate his character by minions of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and assorted industry commentators.

In what some observers attribute to the Governor's ‘agenda’ to optimize state revenues from gambling through casinos at the expense of horse racing in the state, Hayward was fired upon the official discovery of NYRA's incontrovertible failure to lower takeout beyond the legislated sunset date for a temporary state-imposed increase.

Ironically, the wayward Hayward was condemned by e-mails from and to Crist, who had inquired about the issue at the behest of a DRF reader.


Written by Indulto | Comments (4)

A Travers Performance for the Ages

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, August 28, 2016—

Dear Diary,

In the post-race press conference following the 147th running of the Travers, Dr. John Chandler of Juddmonte Farms, who within a half-hour’s time saw Flintshire and Arrogate win two of the most prestigious races run at this storied course, was asked the meaning of Arrogate:

“Being arrogant,” answered Chandler, “but not in an unpleasant sense… and not really a real word.”

This description was totally apt, appropriate in the wake of what simply was one of the most dominatingly surreal performances in the history of Thoroughbred racing.

Hyperbole, you say? Fine.

Feel free designate another performance, other than Secretariat’s 1973 Belmont Stakes, Seattle Slew’s remarkable nose loss in the 1978 Jockey Club Gold Cup and Dr. Fager’s world-record 1:32 1/5 mile in the 1968 Washington Park Handicap under 134 pounds.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (12)
Stars Shine: Good Horses = Good Racing = Good Business

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, August 21, 2016—

Dear Diary,

Who said you can’t go home again? Like New Orleans, Saratoga is a place you feel more than see. It’s as if you’ve never left, especially given five decades of prior experience.

In Saratoga, the horse that has the right of way at all times. Posted signs virtually everywhere tells you as much.

As for Saturday’s racing, including the final two legs of a special Pick 4 wager that combined three Grade 1 stakes and a Grade 2, the final two legs at Del Mar, was spectacular.

Saturday was the kind of day when you feel sorry for all those people who just don’t get it about the game. Even the non-stakes where highly competitive, featuring many tight finishes.

Betting notwithstanding, it boggles the brain that sports fans seem unwilling to appreciate the athleticism involved in the sport of Thoroughbred racing; the equines, the jockeys and, most significantly, the interaction between them.

On sun-baked afternoons from coast to coast, two SoCal based horses, Songbird and California Chrome, were so dominant they made graded stakes-winning rivals appear inferior by comparison.

Questions were answered. Songbird, indeed, can carry her speed a mile and a quarter, even if it took 26.99 seconds to close the deal.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (11)

Travers Day: A Veritable Feast for Everyone

Saratoga Springs, Aug. 25, 2016--Horse players are a tough crowd. Making them all happy is well nigh impossible.

(If you don't think so, read from the comments section of this site.)

However, Saturday's Travers might be able to turn the trick. The Midsummer Derby is loaded with star power for people who still get turned on by the sport. Every 3-year-old of consequence, save Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, who is undergoing a "growth spurt," will be here.

That so many horses have the credentials to win will make it a super betting race for those who reduce champion thoroughbreds to "the two horse" or "the six horse."

Preakness winner Exaggerator, off a smashing win in the Haskell, is the 3-1 morning line favorite. In spite of his lustrous credentials, that price probably will be available when the 14-horse field is loaded.

If beating the favorite is your game, you could be handsomely rewarded. The winners of the Belmont Stakes, Jim Dandy, Tampa Bay Derby and Louisiana Derby are all double digits on the opening line.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (10)
Lost: A Racetrack and Probably Some Fans

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Aug. 18--What a relief. In the midst of my 1600-mile drive to Saratoga, I began reading stories that said the track at Saratoga had been lost on Saturday. My immediate thought was, how could people be wasting time looking for Pokemon when the most famous race track in America is missing?

Thankfully, this turned out to be hyperbole. The lost track, as described by Johnny Velazquez, turned out to be justification for the jockeys to refuse to ride the last six races of the card.

I was on the road, so I have no idea how extreme conditions were at the Spa. But I do know I have been there many times when it was raining when I woke up in the morning, never stopped all day, yet a complete program was run.

I also know that no matter how hard it might have been raining, it likely didn't exceed the Biblical downpours at Gulfstream a couple of times a week during summer. Nevertheless there hasn't been a rain cancellation in my memory.

When it's really bad or lightning is in the area, horses are held in the paddock until conditions become more tolerable. Even on the gloomiest of days, there is sufficient natural light during to run until 7 p.m. and beyond. NYRA called it quits not much after 3 p.m.

NYRA certainly didn't want to lose a Saturday at Saratoga. However, you have to wonder how much effort was made to save the cancelled races. You also have to wonder how much consideration was given to the potential long term repercussions to Saratoga and the Adirondacks tourism industry.

Saratoga probably draws a greater percentage of fans from in excess of 100 miles away than any other racetrack in America, especially on a Saturday. Fans last Saturday are likely to think twice the next time they consider the marathon drive if there is even a hint of a storm.

Also, fans pay $200 or more a night in area hotels and motels to spend a day or two at the Spa. Speaking from first-hand knowledge, a lot of these reservations are made weeks or months in advance. There also is sure to be hesitation on the part of many to making this commitment next year.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (25)

Travers Day All-Grade 1 Pick 4

Exclusively for http://www.123BET.com, reprinted via promotional agreement

LAST WEEK’S RESULTS


Posted comments on winners with notable money finishers

RACE 9 GRADE 1 FOURSTARDAVE 1 MILE INNER TURF

8-Tourist (5-2) won his lone start on this course, three of four at this trip lifetime and exits long series of G1 event. Has enough tactical gas to overcome wide draw and reunites with winning rider Rosario. Worthy favorite.
7-A Lot (10-1) drops significant weight exiting two rapidly run sprints, gets switch to Javier. Has run very well on this course but this is a different level and had better inside draw in last week’s canceled renewal.

RACE 10 GRADE 1 ALABAMA 3YO FILLIES 1-1/4 MILES

6-Songbird (1-5) is 9-for-9 lifetime and needs no introduction. Biggest hurdle figures to be today’s trip but did drew out in final furlong winning CCA Oaks here at 9 furlongs July 24. Has continued to train well over the strip.
3-Going for Broke (10-1) obviously, Chad is en fuego and this filly has benefit of winning 9 furlongs over the track. Only loss sprinting in debut over speed-kind strip. Bred for the trip with Irad on the re-ride and will be running in the lane.

RACE 11 ALLOWANCES 1-1/16 MILES INNER TURF

1-Orino (10-1) has never been entered this cheaply but draws in with salty NY-Bred group. Barn’s horses always live here, draws pole and attracts Johnny; wakeup potential.

RACE 12 ALLOWANCES NY-BRED 5-1/2 FURLONGS TURF


5-True Charm (12-1) comes off comprehensive open lengths score in recent off-turfer here and has run very competitively in two of three turf starts; live threat to repeat with Lezcano on the re-ride.
4-Laura’s Patriot (12-1) was a very willing fourth going 7/8s in Belmont finale and appears well suited by the turnback; getting weight for all and apprentice, struggling here, has ability.
7-Wantagh Queen (20-1) raced wide in one of these, her Spa turf return, following maiden-claiming Belmont win. Second at this trip last year now gets switch to Geroux; surprise package?

**************************************************************************************************************


TRAVERS DAY LATE PICK 4 AUGUST 27, 2016



RACE 8 Grade 1 KING’S BISHOP 3 YO 7 FURLONGS

1-Economic Model (6-1) placed gamely after making mid-race run into stretch in G3 Dwyer. Broke maiden here in 2015 and second to rapid Awesome Banner at trip in Swale. Training strongly in blinkers.
2-Fish Trappe Road (8-1) has improved markedly since turned back into sprint this spring, beating ‘Model’ in latest. Loves this trip (3) 2-1-0 and owns tactical speed and kick; fair value on early line.
3-Summer Revolution (6-1) has been visually impressive in two rapidly run starts at today’s trip, including Spa debut. Extremely fast figures on both Thoro-Graph and Pricci Energy Rating scales but takes substantial rise here. Intriguing.
4-Tail of S’avall (30-1) was third behind ‘Model’ and ‘Road’ in Dwyer and did make maiden here in debut at 2. Tough draw given his style and dynamics in bulky field.
5-Bird Song (30-1) has been developing nicely this summer for Wilkes and jumped up to win Spa debut July 24. Distance should suit, Jose Ortiz re-rides, but makes significant class rise here.
6-Mohaymen (5-1) has been toughened at the highest levels all season long and is 2-for-2 in career rounding one turn. Suited by dynamics, style and distance but has not shown development since leaving Gulfstream. Mixed signals.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)
Saratoga Late Pick 4, Roll Tide

Exclusively for http://www.123BET.com, reprinted via promotional agreement

RACE 9 GRADE 1 FOURSTARDAVE 1 MILE INNER TURF

1-King Kreesa (12-1)
won the Forbidden Apple after getting loose in soft fractions on a speed-kind course…but these are Grade 1 rivals.

2-Grand Arch (6-1) returns to what might be his favorite course--over which he won this race last year. A four-time winner at the trip, returns with profitable spacing for Lynch barn that’s come alive recently. Nicely drawn, sheds 6 pounds and ML odds offers value.

3-Reporting Star (20-1) four of five lifetime wins have come at this trip, sheds six pounds, and won G3 Appleton at the distance three back. In top hands but this is a different level.

4-Force the Pass (8-1) just missed catching ‘Kreesa’ after chasing the loose leader in the Forbidden Apple. Has enough versatility to adapt to dynamics, well drawn and three of four lifetime wins at today’s distance. Excellent value on early line.

5-Blacktype (10-1)
won the Oceanport when Jersey Joe took advantage of demanding course and timed his late run perfectly. Meeting tougher, obviously, and at his best with a little more ground.

6-Ring Weekend (3-1) handles any type of footing, has won at G1 level, and just missed in G2 Dixie making first start in 14 months. Loves tis course, working bullets at Fair Hill base and goes very well for Johnny.

7-A Lot (10-1) drops significant weight exiting two rapidly run sprints, gets switch to Javier. Has run very well on this course but this is a different level and had better inside draw in last week’s canceled renewal.

8-Tourist (5-2) won his lone start on this course, three of four at this trip lifetime and exits long series of G1 event. Has enough tactical gas to overcome wide draw and reunites with winning rider Rosario. Worthy favorite.

9-Takeover Target (9-2) would have preferred last week’s softer ground but likes Spa turf. Freshened awaiting this, sheds five pounds but loses Rosario to Tourist. Chad white hot, has good spacing, but this a tough spot.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Saratoga Race Course Notes, Sunday, August 28

Baffert eyes future for G1 Travers hero Arrogate, runner-up American Freedom, G1 King's Bishop star Drefong
• Brown looks ahead with Flintshire, Lady Eli and Sea Calisi
• Cavorting to Breeders' Cup, Mohaymen to get extended vacation
• Ballerina star Haveyougoneaway sticking…


Aug 29 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Travers (G1) Quotes

Rafael Bejarano, rider of runner-up American Freedom (No. 2): "I had to go for it. I was really comfortable the whole race. It was a good second for my horse. The winner, he was just the best. The winner, he went for it and he was still holding. I knew this horse [Arrogate] could run all day; it was…


Aug 28 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Longines Sword Dancer (G1) Quotes

"Win and You're In Breeders' Cup Turf Division"

Chad Brown, trainer of winner Flintshire (No. 6), runner-up Money Multiplier (No. 2), and fifth-place finisher Inordinate (No. 5): "Aaron Gryder [aboard Inordinate] did a fabulous job as the pacesetter. Still [Flintshire] had trouble in the…


Aug 28 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Priority One Jets (G1) Forego Quotes

"Win and You're In Breeders' Cup Sprint Division"

Arnaud Delacour, winning trainer of A.P. Indian (No. 11): "He's having a lot of fun at what he does. The race [Belmont Sprint Championship] at Belmont [was a turning point for him]. He came back so much more confident for some reason. Ever…


Aug 28 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Ketel One King’s Bishop (G1) Quotes

Bob Baffert, winning trainer of Drefong (No. 13): "The horse has always been incredibly fast. We freshened him up and this was the race we were looking forward to, so I was happy when I saw the post. He's a quiet horse, he's a beautiful horse. When he left there and I saw the first quarter in 23 [seconds],…


Aug 28 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Ballerina (G1) Quotes

"Win and You're In Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint Division"

Tom Morley, winning trainer of Haveyougoneaway (No. 10): "I'm dripping in sweat. I'm glad my assistant hosed me down. What a thrill. You can't beat that. It's Saratoga, we just won a Grade 1. It's as good as it gets, it really…


Aug 28 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Personal Ensign (G1) Quotes

"Win and You're In Breeders' Cup Distaff Division"

Kiaran McLaughlin, winning trainer of Cavorting (No. 5): "She ran terrific. Javier [Castellano] got her back and the others went four-wide. He saved ground and I think that was the key to race. He [Javier] gets along great with this filly.…


Aug 28 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Funny Cide Quotes

Todd Pletcher, winning trainer of Syndergaard (No. 5): "We were optimistic coming in. The horse trained very well and ran well in his debut. We felt like Bobby On Fleek was very impressive in his debut, so it was going to be an interesting matchup. He's just got so much early speed that I think he kind…


Aug 26 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Saratoga Race Course Notes, Friday, August 26

Desormeaux: 'It will be fun' to prove G1 Travers favorite Exaggerator can dominate on a dry track
• Baffert: 'We came here with our best ones' for G1 Travers, G1 King's Bishop
• Creator, Gun Runner keeping low profile for G1 Travers
• Brown: My Man Sam is 'sitting on…


Aug 26 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Fever knocks Majesto out of Grade 1 Travers

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - An elevated temperature will force Grupo Seven C Racing Stable's Grade 1-placed Majesto to scratch from Saturday's 147th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers presented by NYRA Bets at Saratoga Race Course, according to the outfit's racing manager.

Carlos…


Aug 26 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Chantal Sutherland Named to Ride in Sunday’s Added Elegance

Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Soars over $100,000
Huasca Set for Friday Feature off 11-Month Layoff

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Jockey Chantal Sutherland is scheduled to make a return to Gulfstream Park Sunday to ride Grade 1 stakes-placed Kiss to Remember in the $75,000 Added Elegance…


Aug 26 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Saratoga Race Course Notes, Thursday, August 25

Baffert squad has arrived from California for Travers Day
• "There's only one Travers" for Asmussen's duo
• Delgado pleased with Majesto's progress heading into G1 Travers, hoping for good things from Grand Tito in G1 Sword Dancer
• With Travers nearing, Guillot (oh, and…


Aug 26 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)