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

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 (1)
Should Zayat Be Rolling Classic Dice?

LOS ANGELES, September 11, 2015—The retirement of two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan announced on Labor Day, ending his preparation for a comeback at age eight in Sunday's Woodbine Mile, was a sad disappointment.

The venerable gelding earned $7,552,920 from 23 wins and 2 seconds in 31 career starts. A Grade I winner on both turf and dirt, he was first and foremost a turf mile specialist – best-known for the Breeders' Cup Miles he won on his way to the ultimate Eclipse honor in 2012 at 5 and again the following year.

An intended “three-peat” ala Forego was compromised by a bout with colic requiring surgery and then, following recovery, abandoned due to an ankle injury. The latter affliction healed without surgery but the discovery of a tendon tear a week prior to his intended return proved the final tipping point.

One can only imagine what it must have taken to keep Kelso going through his five-year Horse of the Year reign.

Because Wise Dan was gelded he got the chance to eventually achieve the potential promised by the bloodlines of early-developing Triple Crown winners, Secretariat and Affirmed--even if it seemed to elude the progeny that produced him.

His owner/breeder, Morton Fink, is to be admired and applauded for his vision, patience, and responsible oversight of the gift he shared with racing fans. Fink will be respected for his decision to provide as happy an ending as possible to a wonderful story at a time when racing could use more of the same.

Written by Indulto | Comments (2)

Are Rolling Hi-5 Carryovers Too Much of a Good Thing?

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, October 11, 2015—When it comes to observing the phenomenon of gambling at the racetrack after more than four decades, nothing much astounds me. We’ve pretty much seen it all.

But I was simply amazed by what happened at Gulfstream Park West with respect to its newly created Rolling Super-Hi 5 with carryover.

And, no, it wasn’t that the winning payoff on the final leg of the Saturday program paid $127,569, which was astonishing enough.

Rather, it was that bettors spent $231,000 chasing a $58,000 carryover, the result of the bet failing to be won for four consecutive races. The sixth race carryover was $11,594, which grew by a factor of five over the next three races.

But almost a quarter-million spent chasing $58K? If that’s not a stunning development, then I don’t know one when I see one.

Yesterday I was suffering through a very long afternoon in Simulville yet I was never tempted to throw even a few dollars at the free money.

First, the degree of Hi-5 difficulty is extraordinary. I know this because under the right circumstances, I love playing Dime Supers--and they are plenty tough enough. Given the added permutations, the $1 minimum for a majority of players is too much to bear.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (13)
Thoroughbred Racing: Whose Game Is It, Anyway?

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., October 6, 2015—To paraphrase a popular refrain commonly heard on one side of the aisle in the nation’s capital, I’m no economist, but the recent handle figures released by Equibase appears to indicate that if you throw enough money at the purse structure, bettors will come.

The surprising aspect here is that not only do the horsemen benefit from increased purses but so, too, does the industry. The numbers clearly indicate that bettors prefer to wager not only at the best price but on the best product available.

Statistics show that the formula for success this entire year, thanks to the month of September, has been relatively simple: Decrease the number of races by 5%, increase the amount of purse money by $15-million, and reap a $71-million reward.

We check the national handle figures when they are released by the Equibase News Service each month. For the most part, the percentage increases or decreases are almost always minimal or, in bean counters language, flat.

But not last month, and not so, albeit to a lesser degree, for the third-quarter of fiscal 2015. The third-quarter betting figures show a total handle increase of 3.65% across the U.S. compared to 2014. That’s a fairly significant gain.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (36)

Last year’s BC winners an under-achieving group

It might be a good idea to draw a line through last year's winners when handicapping the 2015 Breeders' Cup. Lady Eli was 3-for-3 this season but none of the other nine who returned managed to win more than once. Three were shut out. On the good news front, Gulfstream ended its second unopposed summer meeting with handle up more than 11% then topped itself with an opening day at Gulfstream West (Calder) that was up 87% from a year ago.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (2)
Jockey Club Gold Cup is an Effinweak race

The Jockey Club Gold Cup used to one of the most important races on the national calendar, often the decisive event for year-end titles. Not this season. The best in the East, Honor Code and Liam's Map, are skipping it to prep in other ways for the Breeders' Cup. American Pharoah and Keen Ice are also training up to the Breeders' Cup. Defending champion Tonalist is nothing like the horse who won last year. Meanwhile, it's possible that last weekend produced three or four Breeders' Cup winners.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (12)

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)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Keeneland Barn Notes for Oct. 13



Joe Bravo couldn’t…

Oct 13 | Categories: Keeneland, | Comments (0)
Belmont Park Notes

• Honor Code preps for BC Classic
• McLaughlin possible to send five starters to the Breeders' Cup
• Artemis Agrotera breezes :59 from the gate, in the hunt for BC Filly & Mare Sprint
• Tonalist leads Clement's Breeders' Cup contingent
• Fields taking shape for next…

Oct 13 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Keeneland Issues Results of Race Track Review by Dr. Mick Peterson

LEXINGTON, KY (Oct. 12, 2015) – Keeneland announced today that Dr. Mick Peterson, University of Maine Professor and executive director of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, was on site this weekend, working with track officials to review testing and daily measuring procedures to ensure the safety…

Oct 12 | Categories: Keeneland, | Comments (0)
Not Abroad Set for Comeback in Saturday’s Maryland Million Classic

2012 Classic Champion Returns from 3-Year Hiatus

LAUREL, MD – Seven years ago, Not Abroad was sent to trainer Lynn Ashby’s Delaware farm to be prepared for a racing career.

Now, after 35 races, multiple stakes wins, two graded-stakes placings and a nearly three-year layoff…

Oct 12 | Categories: Laurel, | Comments (0)
Keeneland Barn Notes for Oct. 12



It is on to the $2 million Longines…

Oct 12 | Categories: Keeneland, | Comments (0)
Maryland Million Week Kicks Off With Russell Winning 5K Division

LAUREL, MD - Jockey Sheldon Russell and other runners kicked off Jim McKay Maryland Million week Sunday morning by braving 40 degree temperatures at Laurel Park to participate in the Maryland Million 5K for Special Olympics Maryland.

Russell, a perennial leading rider in Maryland and avid…

Oct 12 | Categories: Laurel, | Comments (0)
Papagayo E captures Yonkers International Trot

Yonkers, NY --- Norway’s Papagayo E and Ulf Ohlsson snuck up the rail to overtake Creatine in the final strides of the $1 million Yonkers International Trot at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 10) in a time of 2:26 for the 1-1/4 mile race. The margin of victory was a half-length.

Oct 11 | Categories: U.S. Trotting Assn., | Comments (0)
Quotes from the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup

Mike Stidham (winning trainer of Her Emmynency)

“She had two really tough defeats in Grade 1s previously (second to Sunset Glow in the 2014 Del Mar Debutante and second to Sharla Rae in the Del Mar Oaks in her last race), so this was well deserved for her. (Jockey) Florent (Geroux) did…

Oct 11 | Categories: Keeneland, | Comments (0)
Super Hi 5 Carryover Generates Excitement, Returns $127,000

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Gulfstream Park West's Super Hi 5 returned $127,569.70 Saturday afternoon when a carryover built over four races on the popular new wager going into the 10th and final race of the day.

The carryover started building when the sixth race Super Hi 5 wasn't hit. There…

Oct 11 | Categories: Gulfstream West, | Comments (0)
Knickerbocker (G3) Quotes

John Velazquez, winning rider aboard Messi (No. 2): "When he ran for the first time at Belmont he was last at the quarter pole and he came running. Going a little shorter today I was a little worried about it, but they were going so slow and he was pulling all the way to the half-mile pole. I got stopped…

Oct 11 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
$1M Jim McKay Maryland Million Draws 155 Nominations for 9 Stakes

Ben’s Cat Slated to Make Sixth Million Start in a Row in Sprint or Turf
Program for Maryland-Sired Horses Headlined by $150,000 Classic

LAUREL, MD – The 30th anniversary of the Jim McKay Maryland Million will be celebrated Saturday, Oct. 17 at Laurel Park with the running of nine…

Oct 10 | Categories: Laurel, | Comments (0)
Keeneland Barn Notes for Oct. 10


Oct 10 | Categories: Keeneland, | Comments (0)