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.

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

Help the Player Help the Industry

LOS ANGELES, November 28, 2015—The luxury of advanced Past Performance charts is normally reserved for big events such as the recent Breeders’ Cup races or Kentucky Derby. Along with extended network television coverage, past performance lines promote interest in the game and also help to inflate wagering pools.

The 2015 Saturday Breeders’ Cup Pick Six handle with its newly reduced $1 minimum returned to a level exceeding $3 million without a carryover, after having failed to meet a $2.5 million guarantee last year. However, it was still out-handled by the 50-Cent Pick Four which also ended with the Classic.

The precious commodity these early PPs provide is the additional time that enables more leisurely eyeball comparison of likely contestants. In the horse-playing game, the willingness to perform the protracted process of PPs perusal before wagering is the traditional measure that distinguishes the enthusiast from the curious newbie.

How likely is it that more would-be horseplayers would be created if the handicapping process consumed less time and concentrated fast focus?

Written by John Pricci | Comments (7)
2015 Breeders’ Cup Lower Rake, Bet Minimums More Player Friendly

LOS ANGELES, October 12, 2015—When the Breeders' Cup (BC) announced their wagering menu last year, the only mention of takeout was the 14% on the Pick Five wager; leaving the player to ferret out the rake on the remaining pools.

This year, they prominently if not proudly promoted the 16% on Win, Place, and Show wagers and 19% on all others.

Breeders’ Cup also lowered the minimum bet for Win Place, Show, Daily Double, and Pick six wagers from $2 to $1. The Distaff-Classic Double minimum remains $1.

With the help of the Horseplayers of North America (HANA) Track Ratings, I was able to find where the various rates of 14%, 15.43%, 20% 22.68%, and 23.68% applied in 2014, and prepare the following chart summarizing the differences:

Written by Indulto | Comments (33)

The (Derby) future is now; avoid Spa winners

The first round of Kentucky Derby futures is this weekend with another ridiculous pool added--the sire of the Derby winner. Nyquist is a deserving early favorite for the Run for the Roses but he'll have to prove a son of Uncle Mo can get 10 furlongs. Exaggerator also looked promising in winning the Delta Jackpot last weekend. However, he is bucking a trend that indicates Saratoga might be the launch pad for future champions but not Kentucky Derby winners.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (7)
Jockey appeals make a mockery of rules

Suspensions are a primary tool to control over-aggressive or outright reckless race-riding. But jockeys are allowed to make a mockery of the system by lodging appeals, then withdrawing them and serving the time when it is convenient. This can't be allowed to continue. Speaking of rulings, the NY Gambling Commission is scheduled to finally release its report on the investigation of Steve Asmussen, which was settled in Kentucky almost a year ago.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (15)

Angst of Bloodhorse Has It Right on CRW

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., November 22, 2015—When I first learned that the Jockey Club was buying a controlling interest in “Bloodhorse” magazine, I feared the worst.

My initial reaction was that the austere organization would follow the lead of many racetracks which limit media credentials in an effort to manage the news, making reporters more dependent on information disseminated via press release.

Then I took a different tack, that The Jockey Club, whether you agree with its policies or not, yields immense influence, e.g., their laudable efforts on the discontinued use of raceday medication.

I now believe my initial concerns were unfounded, especially if the "new" editorial policy permits a column such as the one authored by Frank Angst five days ago. After all, creating a commotion isn't the Jockey Club's default position.

But you know an item is on point when it stirs controversy, considered a dirty word inside the industry--even when its point of view is trying to correct something that is unfair on its face, and that's computer-robotic wagering.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (40)
Jeff Gural: HRI’s Executive of the Year

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., November 17, 2015--Jeff Gural and I have had only two brief conversations in our life, one of a social nature the night New Meadowlands celebrated Tom Durkin, their former longtime harness announcer. It was shortly after Durkin announced his intention to retire.

But we celebrated the Lord of The Meadowlands long before that night in East Rutherford. I never met a racing executive who walked his talk more than Gural, from his unabashed love for the game to putting up his own $120 million to revive a track that had lost much of its luster.

We’ve written about how he takes integrity matters into his own hands by hiring a former state trooper to bolster track security by instituting an in-house integrity program at the glitzy venue a 25-minute ride from Manhattan’s lower West Side.

He had trainers suspected of using illegal drugs which were being administered at a Jersey Turnpike rest stop before they exited at 16W and entered the new receiving barn he built to house and monitor all horses racing that night.

He’s shipped split drug samples to Hong Kong on his own dime after instituting an unannounced out-of-competition testing program because he believes that “if you’re not doing out-of-competition testing, you’re not testing at all.”

Gural takes full advantage of private property provisions of the law, something all tracks could do if they truly had the will to do so and were willing to put the customer first. His policies are in place at his other harness tracks, upstate New York’s Tioga and Vernon Downs.

A horse owner, he believes that horsemen and tracks should be subservient to the good of the game. Citing an apparent lack of will and dwindling state budgets, Gural, a member of the Water, Hay and Oats Alliance, recently called on Thoroughbred tracks to follow his lead.

While he thinks USADA would be an effective, independent regulator, the simplest solution is for track owners to follow his initiatives, challenging the operators of America’s top five Thoroughbred venues--Churchill Downs, Gulfstream Park, Keeneland, Santa Anita and Saratoga--to make a game-changing impact.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (10)

Happy Horseplaying Holidays!

[Ed. Note]: We have sent an e-mail inquiry to Churchill Downs asking if they knew the source of the story that Hopportunity would be kept out of the the Clark Handicap due to a quarter crack. Will report back when we get a response. Meanwhile, please accept our apologies

SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY, November, 25, 2015—From coast to coast and beyond, this holiday weekend will feature a glut of stakes races, 48 over four days, in fact, 25 of them graded, five of those Grade 1.

Those championship defining events, from Kentucky’s Clark Handicap Friday to New York’s Cigar Mile and Del Mar’s Hollywood Derby Saturday, to Sunday’s Matriarch and even farther West--so far west it’s actually in the Far East--the storied Japan Cup.

What with holiday and race draw schedules, we will take a handicapping look-in on Friday’s Clark and Saturday’s Cigar Mile, along with Kentucky Derby defining G2s for soon-to-be-three-year-olds; Aqueduct’s Remsen and Churchill’s Jockey Club Stakes.


Like its springtime brother, the G1 Stephen Foster which also is 9 furlongs, this event has become one of the nation’s top handicap attraction.

Perhaps it’s the novelty of having a handicap race at all anymore; though it seems that 126 pounds is the high-weight benchmark these days, with the competition scaled lower.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (2)
Thinking Upset in First Kentucky Prep and Other Featured Thoughts

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., November 21, 2015--Don’t blame me for this extremely early Kentucky Derby preview. Simply point those fingers at Churchill Downs if you must. After all, they have kept the Delta Downs Jackpot in place as a Derby qualifier. In fact, ditto that for the Delta Princess and Kentucky Oaks.

And so Vinton, Louisiana is the place to be Saturday where sunny skies are projected and where an All-Stakes Pick Four with a $200,000 guarantee is in place, the sequence ending with Delta’s million-dollar mile-and-a-sixteenth for juvenile males.

Both are Grade 3 and worth 10 points on the Derby/Oaks qualifying scale. Again, the track is expected to be fast, as is forecast for Louisville and New York.

In South Florida, where there’s always a chance of afternoon thunderstorms this time a year but not specifically expected Saturday, two graded stakes, one for each sex and also at the G3 level, are being offered at Gulfstream Park West, nee Calder.

At Churchill Downs, the G3 Cardinal for fillies and mares 3 & up at eight and a half furlongs is one of its best Fall features each year based on competitiveness and field size—again is an extremely tough puzzle.

But, paraphrasing Manfred Mann, “mama, that’s where the value is.” We’ve left five fillies in our exacta mix: Faufiler (6-1), Sistas Stroll (8-1), Emotional Kitten (12-1), Button Down (7-2) and Kiss Moon (5-1). We believe Button Down is most likely to prove best in show.

Here’s a detailed handicapping look-in at the four other Saturday offerings:

Written by John Pricci | Comments (3)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Total & Average Handle Up At Gulfstream Park West

Increases Despite Four Fewer Days
144 percent Increase from 2012 Calder-at-Tropical Meet
Rolling Super Hi 5's Add $2.6 Million in Handle

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - Boosted by competitive fields and an increase in horsemen shipping to South Florida early,…

Nov 30 | Categories: Gulfstream West, | Comments (0)
Thunder Rumble (NYSS) Quotes

Mike Hushion, winning trainer of Loki's Vengeance (No. 2): "He's consistent in the mornings. He keeps himself looking like a million dollars. Everybody always says, 'boy, you've got him looking good today,' but he always looks good. A lot of good horses stay like that, tough horses."

Nov 30 | Categories: Aqueduct, | Comments (0)
Cigar Mile (G1) Quotes

Christophe Clement, winning trainer of Tonalist (No. 5) and runner-up Red Vine (No. 3): "I'm always a little bit worried when I run him. The race was run in a funny way; they went so slow early on, which I didn't think was great for us. But that's what good horses do - they win and they overcome things.…

Nov 30 | Categories: Aqueduct, | Comments (0)
Comely (G3) Quotes

Dallas Stewart, winning trainer of Forever Unbridled (No. 9) (By telephone): "She has been a solid horse all year; ran second and third to I'm a Chatterbox a few times. We gave her a break after the [Kentucky] Oaks and she'd been training great. She came up there ready to run. There are a lot of Grade…

Nov 30 | Categories: Aqueduct, | Comments (0)
Remsen (G2) Quotes

Kiaran McLaughlin, winning trainer of Mohaymen (No. 3): "He's a very nice horse. Junior rode him great, he did everything right and it's a big win for the team. He did trickle [blood] a tiny bit last time, so we actually wait right up until they require Lasix to use it and today it worked out great.…

Nov 30 | Categories: Aqueduct, | Comments (0)
Demoiselle (G2) Quotes

Chad Brown, winning trainer of Lewis Bay (No. 2): "Irad [Ortiz, Jr.] rode her really well. I was concerned on the backside, when they were stacked up outside her, that she would never get out. Irad explained to me afterward he just eased his way back and around everyone. He was forced to go wider than…

Nov 30 | Categories: Aqueduct, | Comments (0)
Gulfstream Park West’s Rainbow 6 Hit for $105,293

Mandatory Payouts for Saturday’s Closing Day Program

– One lucky bettor collected Gulfstream Park West’s 20-cent Rainbow 6 jackpot of $105,293.70 when Colorado Daydream captured Friday’s 11th race finale.

Sent off at 9-1 and ridden by Rafael…

Nov 28 | Categories: Gulfstream West, | Comments (0)

JIMMY JERKENS, trainer of EFFINEX (winner): “He ran so well last time and it looked like he never missed a beat with his training and everything else afterwards so that’s why we decided to come. We broke a step slow and then they kind of converged on him and they went like a bat out of hell so he…

Nov 28 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
Go For Wand Handicap Quotes (G3)

Carlos Santamaria, assistant to winning trainer Simon Callaghan of Taris (No. 4): "It was a pretty good trip, she deserved this kind of trip after the last two races she had, but she was ready today. A good win for her, she deserved it."

Simon Callaghan winning trainer of Taris (No. 4):…

Nov 28 | Categories: Aqueduct, | Comments (0)
Gold, Jacks or Better Hold Strong Hand for Closing Day Program

Trainer, Owner Represented in Four of Six Juvenile Stakes on Saturday

– After adding to their record totals in the spring and summer juvenile stakes at Gulfstream Park, trainer Stanley Gold and Fred Brei’s Jacks or Better Farm look to carry that momentum into…

Nov 27 | Categories: Gulfstream West, | Comments (0)
STAKES RECAP: Thanksgiving Handicap


NEW ORLEANS (November 26, 2015)
– In lieu of turkey this year, defending meet champion owner Maggi Moss’ and trainer Tom Amos had their Control Stake well done on Thursday afternoon when the sophomore son of Discreetly Mine…

Nov 27 | Categories: Fair Grounds, | Comments (0)
Churchill Downs Stakes Recaps


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015)
- Stoneway Farm's homebred 3-year-old filly Ahh Chocolate rated patiently in second before taking command in the stretch and drew away to win the 100th running of the $200,000…

Nov 27 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)