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'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

When Smarty Jones Shook the Earth

Until last weekend when the latest Kentucky Derby winner, California Chrome, shipped into Parx Racing, it had been a very long time since the old Philadelphia Park stepped onto the national stage. The first horse was a wonderful chestnut who got his start at the Bensalem Pa. track a decade ago, 2003 to be precise, when he began his career in the hometown of his owners, Roy and Pat Chapman, and his trainer, John Servis, who inherited the colt through happenstance via tragedy. The saga of Smarty Jones--from his career debut to his disappointing and controversial loss in the Belmont Stakes--has been revisited by HRI contributor Brendan O'Meara. It will appear here exclusively for the next six days. If you're unfamiliar with the story of this equine Rocky, you're in for a treat.--John Pricci, executive editor

Part 1

Bob Camac was a life-long horseman, the kind that thought 5 a.m. was sleeping in. In his sixty-one years on the planet he had memories of four Triple Crown winners—horses that won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.

Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed. Nobody gets into training horses thinking they’ll win the Triple Crown, but it’s always a dream with every new crop of horses. Like a dimictic lake in spring, horse racing renews itself every year.

Just as other successful horsemen do, Camac went to the horse sales, advised his clients, saddled his horses, and won horse races. He studied pedigrees and crafted recipes for success. And when it came to bloodstock, he was a wicked alchemist.

Camac had a handful of great horses over the years, but never the big horse—the runner that brings notoriety and fame, the one that makes all those early mornings worthwhile. Until then, he had to keep elevating his stock from bad into good, from good into great.

On race day, he’d report to the paddock sporting his classic Johnny Unitas flattop and aviator sunglasses above a tan suit, replete with white shirt and tie.

Over the years, Camac was supported by a series of loyal clients like the Chapmans, Roy and Patricia “Pat” Chapman. For them, Philadelphia Park was home.

Written by Brendan O'Meara | Comments (0)
The Triple Crown Strikes Back

The new year is fast approaching, as they always do, faster with every year. We are riding a turbulent ascent toward May 3rd. This is the second year of the Kentucky Derby Points System. Hard to believe it’s only the second year of this system, controversial as it was and is.

Add to that the New York Racing Association bumped the purse to the Belmont Stakes 50 percent to $1.5 million. An argument can be made that the Triple Crown races are so prestigious that they need no purse increase. Twenty horses will start the Kentucky Derby if they were running for nothing more than two free movie passes.

As it stands, the Derby sits at $2 million, the Preakness at $1.5 million and the Belmont at $1.5 million. That’s all well and good. These three races in five weeks are an ideal narrative building window, or the continuation thereof.

The Triple Crown, in essence, is the middle movie in a blockbuster trilogy. It leaves us with the most uncertainty and, by the end, leaves us gripping the couch cushions saying, “Darth Vadar was once capable of intercourse!”

Written by Brendan O'Meara | Comments (6)

Bayern Gets Some Help, Leaves Chrome in His Wake

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, September 20, 2014—There are several questions that need answering in regard to the return of dual classics winner California Chrome in the Pennsylvania Derby Saturday at Parx Racing.

Was his defeat a function of pace? Was he too discouraged by continually having the door slammed in his face when he tried to get out of the box being sealed by Edgar Prado throughout the million-dollar nine furlongs?

Was he simply a short, tired horse when he began to shortening stride with about three-sixteenths of a mile remaining, fading back to sixth without being abused by Victor Espinoza in the final sixteenth?

Was there any discomfort from the hoof that required mending after he grabbed himself in the Belmont Stakes?

Is his pedigree beginning to catch up with him after a tough classics campaign, or was he an early developer conditioned by racing and now is starting to go the other way.

My hope is that it’s A and B, not C and D, while all of the above remains in the mix. Since he appeared to be traveling well and comfortably throughout, a dislike for the surface is an unlikely culprit.

"The other riders, they worried about me, they didn't worry about the one in the front,” said Espinoza. “I knew I was in trouble in the first turn. They were like blocking in front of me. Sometimes the other ones don't ride to win, they ride to beat horses."

Written by John Pricci | Comments (5)
Parx Getting the California Chrome Treatment

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, September 16, 2014----The publicists have been touting this Saturday as the most important day in Pennsylvania racing history, and the truth is that the notion is more fact than fiction.

After all, the Kentucky Derby winner is coming to town to run for a lot of money in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby that on paper is more than a bridge to the Breeders' Cup Classic.

And a Derby winner has never will have run in this event until four days hence. Further, it will be a good spot to find out whether the California Chrome of fall is the same vintage as the California Chrome of spring.

What do you think?

Written by John Pricci | Comments (6)

Pa. Derby no walkover for California Chrome

Bob Baffert's decision to ship Bayern to the Pennsylvania Derby changes what loomed to be a richly paid workout for California Chrome into a real race. The Kentucky Derby winner will still be odds-on but the possibility of Bayern getting loose on an easy lead as he did in the Haskell adds intrigue to this weekend's most important race.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (20)
3-year-olds in Horse of Year race for a change

Three-year-old males dominate the racing scene most of the year but recently they have fallen off the radar screen when Horse of the Year has been at stake in the fall. It has been seven years since Curlin won the top prize as a 3-year-old. Shared Belief and California Chrome appear poised to break that streak.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (18)

What’s the Better Bet: Horses or Sports?

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, September 12, 2014---Our friends next door in the Garden State New have been making wagering news of late.

What with New Jersey’s fiscal crisis and recent credit downgrade, Governor Chris Christie, coincidentally or not, has decided to roll the dice—those that remain—on sports betting.

Legalizing marijuana would have been far more profitable and probably would have a better chance to be ignored when it comes to the enforcement of federal law.

But the sports leagues lobby is very strong and they are against legalized gambling. The leagues cite the “integrity of the competition” and they correctly figure that the courts will favor the power of corporations over the power to the people.

"Ignoring federal law, rather than working to reform federal standards, is counter to our democratic traditions and inconsistent with the Constitutional values,” Christie wrote when he vetoed proposed sports gambling legislation.

Of course, he’s really no different from most pols. Doesn’t it always work like this? You’re for something until you’re against it but now you’re for it again.

We’re sure legislators from all over the U.S. are shocked to learn there’s gambling going on in the sports world. The hypocrisy from all levels of government to the leagues themselves is as astounding as it is predictable.

For about a month, my local radio sports station, WOFX-980 AM, has been running ads about fantasy football, to the effect that “you don’t have to wait until season’s end to see if you won because there’s a new cash contest every week.”

I guess the authorities figure it’s just like betting on the horses, only with people.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (9)
We’re Not Guests, We’re Customers

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, September 8, 2014--I’m a Bill Shanklin fan and have been for some time. A creative Lexington-based marketer, some of the more inventive ideas I have encountered in this business seems to have originated with him.

This time, however, I think he missed the mark. Oh, he’s correct when he posits that racing needs to cultivate the horseplayer but, if takeout is the issue, his focus is on the wrong type of player.

His idea of the ideal target, the whale, has no incentive to see takeout lowered since the high rates in place ultimately fuel his rebates.

If takeouts were lowered across the board, increased participation would affect the nigh-volume bettor in a more meaningful way because “square money” would be back in play.

Fresh betting capital would allow the deep-pocketed player to make up for smaller rebates because his expertise and bankroll leverage could buy more big-payout pools, especially fueled by carryovers.

Lower takeout, in addition to keeping active players liquid longer, would give way to marketing campaigns that attract new bettors who don’t mind mixing a little intellect with their action.

But until the current customer base is maintained and new ones are created, added liquidity won’t happen, and whales will begin to cannibalize each other, a process already underway.

As this trend continues and grows, when the whale’s perceived edge becomes smaller and smaller, they’ll move on to the next big gambling scheme.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (29)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Gulfstream Today 9.20

Pletcher Arrives And Wins With First Starter
Sunday's Rainbow 6 Pool $50,000

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The Todd Pletcher stable returned to Gulfstream Saturday with its first entrant of the season, picking up just where it left off – with a win.

Sep 21 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Ol Donyo Leads 1-2-3 Wolfson Finish in Musical Romance Stakes

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Trainer Marty Wolfson enjoyed a black-type day Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where he saddled the first three finishers, including victorious Ol Donyo, in the $75,000 Musical Romance Stakes.

Sep 21 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Dramatic run propels Artemis Agrotera to victory in Gallant Bloom

ELMONT, N.Y. - In her four previous wins, Artemis Agrotera had never raced more than 1 ½ lengths off the pace. On Saturday at Belmont Park, the 3-year-old made up a 9 ½-length deficit to win the Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap for fillies and mares by a head over La Verdad.

Sep 21 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Belmont Park Notes: September 20

• Zivo, Last Gunfighter, Real Solution, Stephanie's Kitten, and Alterite turn in final TVG Super Saturday breezes for Brown
• Wicked Strong solid in six-furlong work for G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup
• Moreno breezes five furlongs in 1:03.31 in final work before Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup

Sep 21 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014) - Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Thank You Marylou commenced a winning move on the turn for home, grabbed the lead at the quarter pole and widened her advantage down the stretch to easily win Saturday's 39th running of the $112,000 Dogwood (Grade III) at Churchill Downs…

Sep 21 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)

Doors Slated to Open at Silks Simulcast Facility at 10:30 a.m. Saturday
Gulfstream Stars, Pennsylvania Derby, Featured in Parx Simulcast Card
Prado Set for Sunday Return to Gulfstream with Four Mounts
Saturday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Pool Guaranteed at $50,000

Sep 20 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Pair of New York-bred juvenile stakes highlight Sunday card

ELMONT, N.Y. - Sunday's card at Belmont Park will be highlighted by a pair of New York-bred juvenile stakes races - the $150,000 Bertram F. Bongard and $150,000 Joseph A. Gimma - which will both be contested at seven furlongs on the main track, and serve as a prelude for the Sleepy Hollow and Maid of…

Sep 20 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Artemis Agrotera hunting for more in G2 Gallant Bloom

ELMONT, N.Y. - Artemis Agrotera, a dominant winner against Grade 1 competition in her most recent start, heads a group of six filly and mare sprinters in the Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap on Saturday at Belmont Park.

Sep 20 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014) – Fiftyshadesofgold, the winner of the $200,725 Eight Belles Presented by (Grade III) on Kentucky Oaks Day, has been made the 2-1 morning line favorite in a…

Sep 20 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
Gulfstream Park News & Notes - 9/17

Undefeated Atreides Breezes Easy Half for Likely Run in Indiana Derby
Ohio Derby Winner East Hall Also Probable for Indiana Derby
Wildcat Red Departs to Remington for Run in Oklahoma Derby

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Stonestreet Stables’ Atreides breezed a half-mile in 50.63…

Sep 17 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)

20-Cent Rainbow 6 Survives A Close Call on Sunday’s Card
Thursday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Pool Guaranteed at $50,000

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 survived a close call Sunday at Gulfstream Park, where any one of eight horses in the 11th race could have taken down…

Sep 15 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Ashley T. Cole (NYB) Quotes

Christophe Clement, winning trainer of Lubash (No. 3): "He's a sound horse and he tries very hard. Junior [Alvarado] has a good relationship with the horse; he knows him inside out. This is fun. This is a very good group of New York-bred turf horses. King Kreesa and Kharafa are always tough."

Sep 14 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)