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

Stars are out for the big holiday weekend

Three Breeders' Cup champions--Main Sequence, Texas Red and Work All Week--are expected to get back on the road to this year's renewal, hoping to reverse disappointing showings last time out in major stakes over the holiday weekend. Also, Lady Eli tries to stretch her unbeaten streak to six in the Belmont Oaks.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (13)
Advice to Baffert: Stay West with American Pharoah

Bob Baffert's options for American Pharoah's next start include Del Mar's Pacific Classic. Given the sorry state of the older horse division in Southern California, which was underlined by Saturday's lackluster Gold Cup, Baffert should stay home for what amounts to easy pickings in a $1 million race, whose pot could grow considerably if bonuses being put together become reality.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (4)

Business As Usual: Appellate Court Denies Dutrow Appeal

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., June 25, 2015—On June 24 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed trainer Rick Dutrow’s appeal of a 10-year suspension based on his claim that he was denied due process in a 2011 New York State administrative hearing.

This ruling in no way qualifies as an upset, of course. It’s simply how the process works: State’s conduct administrative hearings to adjudicate cases de jure in the guise of acting in the public interest then deny constitutional guarantees during that process.

These hearings are de facto kangaroo courts in which agenda rules. Strict rules of evidence do not apply, hearsay is permitted, and because of racing’s patchwork quilt of drug testing and regulation the results most often are capricious and arbitrary.

Even though the burden of proof is on the state, the presumption in these cases is that the client is guilty. Resultantly, appeals courts are loathe to reverse the findings of administrative hearings, reversals somehow being a tacit admission that the state process was flawed at best or, in Dutrow’s case, unconstitutional at its core.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (11)
Part 3 HRI Special Report on the Dutrow Case: Patti Cerda Speaks Out

What you are about to read is an unsolicited, personal, unabridged statement of an ex-NYRA employee in response to several readers who believe that some of the individuals who defended Rick Dutrow Jr. in the comments section of Part 1, Part 2 of HRI’s Special Report--an investigation into the Dutrow case in which the trainer was suspended for 10 years--did so because they were friends of Dutrow. In Part 3, Patti Cerda, for 20 years the Manager of the NYRA Identification Office responsible for issuing credentials to all individuals having business at any of the three NYRA tracks, states that she was made to issue false identification badges to undocumented backstretch workers or risk losing her job. That process is counter to federal and state laws, in short, an illegal act. The following is her account, edited for syntax and punctuation only

Written by John Pricci | Comments (80)

All-American Pharoah All the Time

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., June 21, 2015—I wish I could say that there existed the same amount of hysteria associated with the first three Triple Crown winners of the modern era pre-American Pharoah but in good conscience I just don’t remember it that way.

The probable cause lies in the fact that soon after Secretariat broke the quarter-century drought that came after Citation in 1948, two more winners of racing’s most celebrated gauntlet came in rapid succession; Seattle Slew four years later and Affirmed a year after that.

Back in the day, Secretariat was deservedly known as “the Mighty Secretariat,” such was his imposing presence and the supreme power he displayed during many of his stunning performances.

But Seattle Slew--still the only member of this exclusive club to have won the series while undefeated--was not truly acknowledged as a true “great” until his four-year-old season.

Ironically, Seattle Slew was more celebrated following a narrow come-again defeat in the Jockey Club Gold Cup than he was in victory, an effort that remains the most amazing performance by a racehorse we’ve ever seen; Big Red’s Belmont being the most perfect.

Of course, Affirmed came along the next year to sweep the Triple Crown in 1978. Maybe it was his rivalry with Alydar that at once confirmed his talent but in some way diminished the aura of greatness because back then it was all about “The Rivalry,” the uncoupled entry of all-time.

Ho hum, Affirmed’s Belmont was just another Triple Crown sweep. Most agree there should have been a third straight but the racing gods foiled the quest of the undeniable great Spectacular Bid. At least, Bid did help solidify the ‘70s as racing’s greatest decade.

There is little doubt that the sporting appetite for greatness was heightened by the futility that lasted 37 years until this past June 6. During that time television became the greatest communication conduit ever, heightened only by a new media that can be carried in pocket or purse.

The current hysteria surrounding American Pharoah--I didn’t even realize, e.g., that Julia Roberts was a big racing fan, did you?--was aided by the fact that he has a cool name. It might be the chicken-and-egg effect but badly named horses don’t win Triple Crowns:

Written by John Pricci | Comments (15)
All We Are Saying… Is Give Bill a Chance

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., June 14, 2015—Three years ago, a couple of political operatives approached Frank Stronach to ask for his support. They were trying to help cobble together legislation that effectively would put an end to the use of raceday medication.

Stronach listened attentively, wished them luck, told them he was on their side, but that he was distrustful of federal intervention, had his own way of doing things, and wished to affect change through the auspices of the industry itself.

Two months ago, Stronach showed up on Capitol Hill with his lobbyist in tow and asked one question: “What can I do to help?”

When racing’s ultimate rabble-rousing visionary, who has invested over a billion dollars in the sport, gives up on the prospect that the industry can reform itself if everyone would just give it a little more time to build on the progress already made, why should players and fans place their trust in the same old promises?

Written by John Pricci | Comments (12)

Only American Pharoah Knows

ELMONT, NY, June 5, 2015—I have seen the figures, the ones I respect, watched the first two legs of the Triple Crown series several times each, looked at historical factors, pedigrees, workouts—well, most of you know the drill.

My investment of time has led me to a startling conclusion; that the 3-5 favorite for the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes is the best of his generation, maybe several generations.

But I can’t reprise Joe Namath that American Pharoah will be America’s 12th Triple Crown winner.

It’s like the man who trains him, Bob Baffert, said: “This is a tough race. If he’s a great horse, he’ll win; if he isn’t, then he won’t.”

Written by John Pricci | Comments (1)
A Tale of Two Franchises

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., May 24, 2015—In the last two weeks, it has been the best of times for a couple of Stronach Group racetracks.

It began a week ago Saturday night after all of Pimlico’s final numbers were fully digested. The Preakness metrics were off the charts, which flew in the face of national television rating that were down slightly.

Not sure what these counter-intuitive results mean in the overall, considering here was a budding superstar that delivered on U.S. racing biggest stage which drew a huge national audience, yet two weeks later American sports fans weren’t glued to their HDTVs.

Surely, that won’t be the case a fortnight from now, or will it? As my good friend, the late Jack Wilson constantly counseled, “better say maybe big Johnny.”

Keeping in the spirit of the latest television commercial that continues to amuse, the Preakness numbers were “stupid good.”

It started on Black-Eyed Susan day when attendance of 42,700, representing a 23% rise. And handle of nearly $18.5 million was the highest in a decade, up an astounding 63 percent from 2014’s $11.3 million.

Now attendance and handle metrics may not hold the weight they once did, it’s still the fastest way to know how a track is doing: Thumbs up or thumbs down.

While mainstream America might have yawned at American Pharoah’s attempt to stay alive in a bid for racing immortality, they truly love their Preakness in Baltimore.

Thanks to an aggressive betting menu, a 14th race, and good weather--until the Preakness horses started their Maryland-My-Maryland parade, that is--handle was up a tad, from $83.7 million to $85.1 year over year.

Parenthetically, imagine what the handle might have been if bettors were allowed to churn a little more money but could not in the face of high takeout rates, and we’re not talking crab-cakes-to-go here.

Despite a 12% takeout in the Pick 5, the equal of Sam Houston Park’s, the lowest in North America, the blended rake at Pimlico is an extremely high 23.69%, which ranks it 35th of 62 tracks rated by the Horseplayers Association of North America.

But trust that management is duly aware of the takeout issue, but the priority remains, as it should be, to make Maryland racing the success it once was and a leader in a Mid-Atlantic region badly in need of a leading light.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (17)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Gulfstream Summit of Speed Notes: Fri 7/3

Wildcat Red Set for Return to Sprinting in Smile
Patrick Dupuy Sets Sights on Azalea (G3) with I’m a Looker
Tea Time Shipping in for Princess Rooney (G2)
Gold 2-year-olds Ready for Stakes Test

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Trainer Jose Garoffalo successfully stretched out Wildcat…

Jul 3 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Texas Red returns in G3 Dwyer

ELMONT, N.Y. - The Grade 3, $500,000 Dwyer - to be run on the second annual Stars & Stripes Day at Belmont Park - will feature the return of last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red, who has not raced since finishing second in the Grade 2 San Vicente on February 1 at Santa Anita Park.

Jul 3 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Tonalist heavy favorite in Suburban ‘Cap

ELMONT, N.Y. - Under high weight of 123 pounds including Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, 2014 Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist has been made the 3-5 favorite over five foes for Saturday's Grade 2, $500,000 Suburban Handicap, one of six graded stakes on the second annual Star & Stripes Day at Belmont…

Jul 3 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Mother Goose Quotes

Drayden Van Dyke, winning trainer of Include Betty (No.2): "It was a perfect trip. I know they were going fast up front and I knew this long stretch should really help her out, she makes that nice little last run and I knew it'd work out just perfect for her. I just had to make sure that I kept pulling…

Jun 28 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Belmont Park Notes 6/27

• Brown readies five runners for G1 Belmont Derby, G1 Belmont Oaks
• Tonalist preps for G2 Suburban
• Pletcher contenders work towards Stars & Stripes Day assignments

ELMONT, N.Y. - The second renewal of Stars & Stripes Day on July 4 at Belmont Park will be highlighted…

Jun 28 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Rainbow 6 Carryover Totals $383,473.91

Rainbow 6 Carryover Totals $383,473.91 Heading into Sunday’s Mandatory Payout
Pool Expected To Climb Over $1 Million

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – After going unsolved for the 24th consecutive racing program Saturday, the Rainbow 6 carryover will total $383,473.91 heading into Sunday’s…

Jun 28 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Saturday’s 20-cent Rainbow 6 Jackpot Pool Guaranteed at $500,000

Mandatory Payouts of Rainbow 6, Pick 5 and Super Hi-5 Slated for Sunday

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved Friday at Gulfstream Park, where the carryover jackpot pool for the popular multi-race wager will be guaranteed at $500,000 Saturday.


Jun 26 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Wonder Gal takes aim at G1 Mother Goose

ELMONT, N.Y. - An evenly matched group of 3-year-old fillies is set to contest Belmont Park's Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose at 1 1/16 miles on Saturday, led by Treadway Racing Stable's Wonder Gal.

Trained by Leah Gyarmati, Wonder Gal was cut out to be a good one. The daughter of…

Jun 26 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Saturday’s Rainbow 6 at Gulfstream

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - If there is no single ticket with all six winners on Friday's 20-cent Rainbow 6 at Gulfstream Park, Saturday's guaranteed pool will be $500,000.

Friday's carryover is $325,694.12.

Jun 26 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Guaranteed Pick 4 Wagers to be featured at The Spa

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) has announced that it will offer at least a $500,000 Guaranteed Late Pick 4 on Saturdays at Saratoga Race Course, with increased guarantees on Travers Day (August 29, $1 million), Whitney Day (August 8, $750,000) and Woodward Day (September…

Jun 23 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Enhanced Travers Day, Whitney Festival top Saratoga race schedule

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Two of the biggest days in North American racing will highlight the historic 147th meet at Saratoga Race Course, with the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers the centerpiece of a supercharged Travers Day and the Grade 1, $1.25 million Whitney anchoring five stakes on Whitney Festival…

Jun 23 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Possessed and Freudie Anne top pair of NYSS stakes

ELMONT, N.Y. - Highlighting Sunday's Father's Day card at Belmont Park are a pair of New York Stallion Series stakes at seven furlongs on the turf, the $100,000 Spectacular Bid for 3-year-olds and $100,000 Cupecoy's Joy for 3-year-old fillies.

Headlining the Spectacular Bid division is Possessed,…

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