HRI Featured Writers
HRI Featured Writers

Pricci’s Free Race Analysis

Whenever his daily work schedule permits, HorseRaceInsider executive editor John Pricci will analyze that day's feature race from a major thoroughbred-racing jurisdiction.

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'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

The Accidental Stakes Race

I made a gentlemen’s bet with TJ on Saturday and lost. I assured him that he’d probably get an email from the NTRA on Sunday announcing the guests who would appear on a national teleconference advancing the newly minted Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby.

Alas, no email was forthcoming, and neither was there the oft-presented Tuesday teleconference before major racing events. Saturday is the day Pennsylvania Thoroughbred fans look forward to every year.

Maybe somebody dropped a dime to the industry’s public relations organ that Jorge Navarro, aka “the juice man,” was about to drop the name Game Over into the Penn Derby entry box.

Or maybe they wanted to save the industry further advancement if tomorrow, Wednesday, the New Jersey Racing Commission ups the punishment ante for Navarro and his foul-mouthed owner, Randal Gindi, fined $5,000 by New Jersey stewards.

But the Pennsylvania Derby? With apologies to Sidney Carroll and Robert Rossen, who adapted Walter Tevis’s The Hustler to the silver screen: “This is Pennsylvania, mister. Ever heard of Fast Murray Rojas?”

Written by John Pricci | Comments (4)
The 15-30 Takeout Solution

If the clown in the White House can a make a deal with ineffectual Congressional Democrats, then surely racing’s stakeholders can compromise and find a solution to the parimutuel takeout problem.

The problem of course is that it’s too high. It’s just one of several issues why lifetime horseplayers are walking away from the game, and racing can ill-afford to lose any more old-schoolers who choose to walk away.

Takeout might not be right on the top of the list but it’s the kind of problem that’s fixable. Cost-cutting is never a bad thing; it’s promotable, gambling-centric and a way to lure young adults who prefer to mix some critical thinking with their gambling.

If do-able, a deal that helps all of racing’s stakeholders--from horseplayers of every stripe, to racetracks, to horsemen—is one that makes sense and long overdue.

This industry is one that does not work collectively because at once there as many agenda as there are racing jurisdictions. Lowering takeout won’t fix the drug problem or equine and human safety concerns but its good business.

Just as climate deniers are famously not scientists, I’m no mathematician. I leave that to better analytical minds than mine. So if someone wants to tweak the numbers that follow so that they make more sense and dollars, please have at it.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (89)

Marc Lawrence Underdog Best Bets SEP 23-24


Backing a third straight road favorite is not in the offing in Chapel Hill as Marc’s Betcha Didn’t Know column on page 2 has us clicking our ‘Heels’ today on Tobacco Road. In addition to that juicy 23-4 SU and 18-3 ATS tightener outlined in the ‘Help!’ article, Duke’s 1-3 SUATS record in their last four ACC openers also has us believing that the hosts will right the ship and make amends for a pair of season opening home losses to Cal and Louisville. History also doesn’t favor the Durham Devils as they are an overconfident 0-4 SUATS when given the favorite label in this series and 1-3 SUATS in this building since 2009. And besides the Beatles’ Help, another reason we feel the Tar Heels will have a Fab (Game) Four comes courtesy of THE CLINCHER: North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora is 7-0 SUATS following a win in games in which his teams own a losing record.

Written by Marc Lawrence | Comments (0)
Marc Lawrence Best Bet College and Pro Underdogs, SEP 16-17

For the ninth consecutive year, will post Marc Lawrence's Best Bet College and Pro Underdogs. Why underdogs? Consider: When betting favorites, two of three things that determine point-spread results are bad, whereas two of three things that can happen when backing the underdog are good. Hence, Underdog Best Bets.

Below are "technical" selections, defined as those based on historic trends. Marc gave us a look at the secret sauce in 2008. Suffice to say it is the most detailed sports data base I have ever seen. HorseRaceInsider is proud to post his weekend plays throughout the season.

Plays are based on opening lines; note line moves that can erase the edge Marc's research provides when backing the underdog.

KENTUCKY over South Carolina by 7

While he’s no threat to be invited to this year’s Heisman Trophy ceremony, South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel can play. He snared a pair of TD passes in the Cocks’ opening win over NC State, scored on a 25-yard rushing play against Missouri, and ran back a kickoff for a touchdown in each game. But those big plays mask a serious fl aw in South Carolina’s 2-0 start: the 31-13 win over Missouri marked the second straight week where Will Muschamp’s team won on the scoreboard despite being outyarded on the fi eld. As a result, they enter today’s fray allowing 158 YPG more than they’ve gained – a defi nite no-no. Kentucky HC Mark Stoops is feeling some heat in Lexington after posting a 19-30 SU mark in the previous four years and even though the Wildcats have managed a 2-0 start, both games were in doubt until the late going. Fortunately for Ashley Judd and UK nation, Stoops is 3-1 ATS in SEC away openers and the Bluegrass Cats own a 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS log in the last four series meetings with SC. Our well-oiled machine pumps up the volume by telling us undefeated 17 returning starter dogs off consecutive wins like Kentucky are 5-1 ATS against undefeated foes since 1990. Considering the Cocks are a limp 3-9 SUATS with revenge when playing off a SU underdog win, we’ll take the touchdown from a South Carolina team ripe for a letdown. THE CLINCHER: Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops is 4-0 ATS following a win versus an undefeated opponent off a SUATS win.

Written by Marc Lawrence | Comments (0)

Churchill and Keeneland, Rivals No More

Money, money, money, money…money.

As it turns out, when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of the people in the Commonwealth and the perception of leadership both real and imagined, long-time rivals Churchill Downs and Keeneland are willing to put bragging rights aside when it comes to scooping up every betting dollar within its borders by opening two satellite tracks in the Kentucky hinterlands.

Not only would the proposed joint venture add to their respective bottom lines, but it has the added benefit of sticking a dagger into the hearts of both Ellis Park and Kentucky Downs, especially the latter, whose popularity with bettors went through the roof with its recently concluded record-setting boutique meet.

In America, everyone has a right to make a living and Churchill Downs Inc. has a mandated responsibility to grow its revenue as a publicly traded company. Keeneland, meanwhile, for which no one has ever suggested an interest in creating a fund-me page, is pulling out all stops mainly because it can.

And if sticking a knife into the heart of Kentucky Downs, which has basked in the national spotlight this month with its highly popular five-day session of unique turf racing and fan-friendly tax rates, that’s an added bonus.

Now we know the real reason for the outrageous takeout increase slated to begin at the Keeneland Fall meet: A homogeneous, maxed-out, tax-on-horseplayer-winnings that not only puts it in line with what CDI charges but sets the same high-rate table it would charge at the new facilities.

To paraphrase Bukowski, “dividends for all my friends!”

Written by John Pricci | Comments (34)
Saratoga Diary Prep: Spa Off to Blazing Start

Dear Diary,

I know you’re anxious to celebrate your 40th anniversary—yes, since 1977—but it can’t be a real diary unless you’re there. I will be, but first some matters on the home front that need my attention.

So, let’s call this the inaugural Simulcast Edition of Saratoga Diary, and that’s a good thing, too. No distractions like dinner plans, cocktails, visiting with old friends, favorite places. What remains is what happened between the fences.

I might not have been there but over 64,000 people were the first two days of Saratoga-148. Those are wow numbers, or as TJ was saying in the Gulfstream press box about Friday’s opening; that’s almost Travers-like.

Unlike Del Mar’s disappointing start, Saratoga opened on a roll with all-sources handle up 14% to $20.3 million on opening day. Saturday’s numbers were just as strong: $24.9 million from all sources.

Off the top, the headlines are: What’s with the main-track surface? Consecutive-years fast start for Kiaran McLaughlin. The Ortiz Brothers Show. And wait, there’s more:

Chad Brown, Bobblehead of Renown with a Saturday trifecta. Slow starts for Hall of Famers, Javier and Johnny V. The Greatness of Lady Eli. And what’s up with the Todd Two-Year-Olds?

FRIDAY JUL 21: Opening Day. It was clear from the jump, the “And They’re Off at Saratoga” for mid-level claimers, that the amount of kickback on the first turn was extraordinary. Can you say cuppy track?

Written by John Pricci | Comments (10)

QUESTION to INDUSTRY: Why Should One Bet Be Taxed More Heavily Than Another?

The average takeout for straight bets is a little more than 17 percent. For exotics, it's more than 22 percent. How does this make sense? Why should the more difficult to hit bets be taxed more for the attempt? The answer is typical: This is the way it always has been done. Another argument is this pushes people into easier to hit pools. This is outrageous paternalism: We know what's better for you than you do. A dirty little secret is the heavily taxed exotics subsidize the rebates to the computer guys, who aren't even real horse players.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (71)
When is something going to be done about ‘The Juice Man’?

Jorge Navarro has accomplished some amazing feats this summer at Monmouth. A video available, which has gone viral, suggests more than good horsemanship might be involved. One of his owners, who has won with eight of 12 recent starters, is seen shouting at a racetrack monitor as one of his horses gets home, 'The Juice Man. We f—k everyone and I line my pockets.' If this doesn't call for a thorough investigation into Navarro's methods, it's hard to imagine what might.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (26)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases

"Whether as the owner of Secretariat, the brilliant Triple Crown Champion she campaigned nearly a half-century ago, or as a leader and ambassador for the sport she loved, Penny Chenery led an extraordinary life that touched Thoroughbred racing fans and others in a unique and personal way. Thankfully,…

Sep 18 | Categories: Horse Racing, |
Chublicious Makes the Grade in $250,000 De Francis Dash (G3)

Sprint Tops Seven Stakes Worth $900,000 on Fall Festival of Racing Program
LAUREL, MD – David Gruskos’ multiple stakes winner Chublicious, dismissed as the longest shot in the four-horse field, collared stubborn front-runner Blue Moon Ace in mid-stretch and emerged from their duel to the wire…

Sep 18 | Categories: Laurel, |
Gulfstream News & Notes: Fri 9/15/2017

Surprise Wedding Favored for Turf Debut in Miss Gracie
Mama Joyce Seeks Repeat in $50,000 Sea of Grass Handicap
Saturday’s 11-Races Draw 113 Horses
Gaffalione Road Show Makes Stop at Laurel Saturday

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – A half-sister to the Sept.…

Sep 15 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Laurel Park News & Notes

G3 Winner Mr. Jordan ‘50-50’ for $250,000 De Francis Dash (G3)
Karamanos Replaces Injured Carrasco on Chublicious for De Francis
Gaffalione Road Show Makes Stop at Laurel Park Saturday

– David Melin, Leon Ellman and Laurie Plesa’s multiple…

Sep 15 | Categories: Laurel, |
Laurel: Fall Festival of Racing

Fall Festival of Racing an Exciting Time for Laurel Park and Bettors

Graded Races, Full Turf Fields, Events Every Weekend

LAUREL, MD - Saturday’s Fall Festival of Racing, featuring the $250,000 De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) and six other stakes, is just…

Sep 15 | Categories: Laurel, |
Gulfstream Park Taking 2017-2018 Championship Meet to New Level

$16 Million Pegasus World Cup (G1) Tops $28.6 Million Stakes Schedule
Top Classic Prep $1 Million Florida Derby to be Run Saturday, March 31
Meet Opens Saturday, Dec. 2 with $1.1 Million Claiming Crown
Clasico del Caribe Makes North American Debut Saturday, Dec. 9

Sep 15 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Laurel: Successful Stablemates Set to Clash in $100,000 Laurel Dash

Ginger N Rye Looks to Extend Streak in $100,000 Sensible Lady Turf Dash
Two of Six Grass Stakes on Tap for Saturday’s Fall Festival of Racing

LAUREL, MD – Stablemates Amelia’s Wild Ride and Class and Cash, with 21 wins and nearly $850,000 in purse earnings between…

Sep 15 | Categories: Laurel, |
NYRA announces Belmont-Woodbine Pick 5 for Saturday

Belmont Park Live to cover Grade 2 Sands Point from Belmont Park, G1 Northern Dancer and G2 Canadian from Woodbine

ELMONT, N.Y. - The New York Racing Association, Inc. announced today a Belmont-Woodbine Pick 5 wager for Woodbine Mile Day this Saturday, September 16.

Sep 15 | Categories: Belmont Park, |

South Louisville native Dale Romans, who is on the verge of surpassing Hall of Famer Bill Mott as the all-time leading trainer in races won at Churchill Downs, will meet with members of the media at his Barn on Thursday. Friday is Opening Day of Churchill Downs’ 11-day September Meet, and Romans trails…

Sep 14 | Categories: Churchill Downs, |
Saturday, Sunday Cards Drawn for Return of Live Racing at Gulfstream

Back in Action with Full Fields: 134 Entries Saturday, 105 Entries Sunday
Saturday Post Time: 12:15 p.m.; Sunday Post Time: 12:45 p.m.
$100,000 Miss Gracie Stakes Headlines Saturday’s 13-Race Program
$50,000 Tamiami, $50,000 Perfect Season Highlight Sunday’s 12-Race Card

Sep 14 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Gulfstream’s Properties Back on Track

Horses Return to Training, Facility Prepares for Saturday Racing, Wednesday Simulcasting
Poker, Casino Open; Shops Opening in Village

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Just two days after Hurricane Irma left her mark on South Florida, Gulfstream Park, The Village at Gulfstream…

Sep 12 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Gulfstream to Resume Live Racing Saturday

Facility Open for Simulcasting Wednesday
Horses, People All Safe in Wake of Hurricane Irma

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Gulfstream Park announced Monday it would resume live racing Saturday, Sept. 16, and that its facility would be open for simulcasting Wednesday.

Sep 11 | Categories: Gulfstream, |