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
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

Pharoah’s bad day was a great one for racing

The Travers result disappointed many, none more so than Team American Pharoah. However, it was a grand day for thoroughbred racing with record handle, huge TV ratings and conversation before and after the event that the sport doesn't get outside Triple Crown season. Thankfully Bob Baffert has convinced Ahmed Zayat to allow the Triple Crown champion the opportunity to redeem himself in the Breeders' Cup Classic.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (12)
Pharoah’s Travers great for racing but what about his future

Ahmed Zayat's and Bob Baffert's decision to bring American Pharoah to the Travers deserves praise. But in calling this audible from their Breeders' Cup Classic blueprint, they are taking a risk that another coast-to-coast trip could be one too many for the Triple Crown champion.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (14)

Travers Aftermath Deserved Better From Espinoza

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, September 1, 2015—Victor Espinoza embarrassed himself. Maybe he began to take himself a little too seriously after becoming the first Triple Crown jockey in 37 years, or becoming a “Dancing With the Stars” celebrity.

Rather than accusing Jose Lezcano of “trying to hurt American Pharoah,” he should have taken a page from the Zayat’s book, or Bob Baffert’s, for that matter, who all handled the loss graciously, as crushed as they must have been at the time.

To their credit, they didn’t look for excuses, never came close to making one up the way Espinoza did. Ahmed Zayat spoke only of his horse not performing “like the American Pharoah I know.”

Baffert had it right, too, when, in the heat of the moment, he said it right--which is a lot different than saying the right thing, a.k.a. spin what really happened. “He didn’t bring his ‘A’ game today. His tank wasn’t as full as we thought,” he said immediately port-race.

And neither did he say what he might have suspected but couldn’t prove, the reason why he was reticent to run in the first place. He worried about the spacing from the Haskell to the Travers and from the Travers to the Classic.

In a scheduling context, the Travers was no man’s land.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (8)
Travers 146: Keen Karma

SARATOGA SPRNGS, NY, August 30, 2015—The second lesson a trainer takes from his Horsemanship 101 manual, after “he couldn’t be doing any better” is “they all get beat.”

Horseplayers and fans would also do well to keep in mind that dictum. The disgrace is in not showing up; not running on gallantly for second in a losing effort.

They all get beat is the truest of all axioms, of course. That’s the way it is with flesh-and-blood things. Like humans, animals have their good days and bad days. American Pharoah had a good one, just not the great one he needed.

For the Triple Crown champion of 2015, the 146th Travers was an effort somewhere in between. Bob Baffert said it best to a national television audience moments after the race: “He didn’t bring his ‘A’ game. We thought he would have a little more in the tank.”

Now maybe people understand why Baffert was reticent to run in this spot.

Pharoah’s B+ game was pretty damn good, however, in part reminiscent of Seattle Slew in the Jockey Club Gold Cup of 1978, coming again gallantly only to be beaten by a one-run, perfect trip rival, Exceller.

American Pharoah dug down to the bottom and found courage, but no reserves. While clearly fatigued, he still resurged to defeat his Travers shadow, the couldn’t-be-doing-any-better Frosted, soundly defeating him by open lengths at the end.

But it was the fresh, specifically pointed to the Midsummer Mile and a Quarter who won the day beneath expert handling from his human connections. And the good karma surrounding them proved too hard for the champ to overcome.



Written by John Pricci | Comments (15)

ARCI’s Martin Spearheading Pushback Campaign to Thwart Meaningful Reform

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, August 20, 2015—With the New York State Gaming Commission set to host a day-long forum on Tuesday to discuss the policies on, and rules pertaining to, the administration of raceday Lasix, a push-back and disinformation campaign by raceday-Lasix proponents has already begun.

It started last week with a story authored by Victor Salazar that appeared in horseracing-related media quoting professional boxer Steve Cunningham to say that random Olympic-style drug testing which was supposed to be administered by the United States Anti-Doping Agency was never performed, implying that USADA had dropped the ball.

It wasn’t until later in the story was it indicated that routine pre- and post-race tests had been conducted by that state’s boxing commission concerning the bout in question. Indeed, all states require pre- and post-bout tests wherever boxing is sanctioned.

Illegal use of steroids are at the heart of doping issues in professional boxing. The violent nature of the sport is the reason why random testing makes should be mandatory. It wasn’t until later in the story when it was learned USADA didn’t conduct the random tests because the bout’s promoters failed to pay for it.

Aside from the curious appearance of this story in horse-racing related media, the bottom line is that despite assurances that the sport of boxing wants to clean up its act, the industry depends on the kindness of promoters to pay the freight.

Calling Don King.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)
Pharoah: Past, Present and Future

OCEANPORT, NY, August 4, 2015—Sunday was about historical context. Today, it’s all about the future.

From a racing perspective, American Pharoah, barring the unforeseen, has absolutely no excuse for not showing up in the shadow of the elm trees in upstate New York.

In our view, American Pharoah saved his best race for last, Sunday at 5:52 p.m. at Monmouth Park. He was sparkling, bedazzling, description-defying.

There are three possible negatives, from a connections point of view.

The timing: It’s not like the best horse in the world cannot be trained up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic. But in a perfect world, you would like the spacing to be better.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (1)

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
Albany (NYB) Quotes

Rudy Rodriguez, winning trainer of Good Luck Gus (No. 1): "He was coming into the race very good. He's been training very good. We've been pointing him to this race all along. He won at Saratoga a year ago, I had entered him for [main track only] on the grass to see if we could get a race before this…


Aug 29 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Saturday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Guaranteed at $650,000

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot pool will be guaranteed at $650,000 Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

The Rainbow 6 carryover jackpot is paid out only when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 percent…


Aug 29 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Quotes from Jess’s Dream’s debut win at Saratoga

Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Jess's Dream: "It wasn't easy to get him to the races. We've had him for a year but it's taken a year to get him here. It was like a Grade 1. It was pretty special because of who it is and listening to the fans clap. It's great to win here at Saratoga with this horse because…


Aug 24 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Troy Stakes Quotes

Joe Sharp, winning trainer of Shore Runner (No. 2): "He got a great trip, Kendrick did a good job. The pace was pretty slow and the guys tried to make it as hard on him as they could, rightfully so. He was the horse to beat. I had a lot of confidence in the horse, a lot of confidence in the jockey and…


Aug 23 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Alabama (G1) Quotes

Tony Dutrow, winning trainer of Embellish the Lace (No. 5): "I always hoped of winning a race like that, and when it comes, it's just so gratifying, so humbling, so magical. And special is a great word which sums up all that."




Aug 23 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Rainbow 6 Carryover $361,926.76 for Sunday

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - After going unsolved for the 22nd consecutive racing program, the Rainbow 6 carryover reached $361,926.76 Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

Heading into the final leg, five horses were alive as singles – (5) Infield In, (7) Gavel Down, (8) Untietheknot, (10) Huddyup and…


Aug 23 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Saratoga Race Course Notes - 8/20

Weaver considering recent maiden winner Mid Ocean for G1 Travers
Lovely Maria, 'Chatterbox' gallop, school for G1 Alabama
Wildcat Red arrives at the Spa to prep for G1 Forego
Hall of Fame trainer Sheppard relieved to extend streak
Top Billing tries turf for the first time on Saturday

Aug 20 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Flutterby Set to Share Spotlight in Saturday’s Gold Mover Stakes

Princess Rooney (G2) Runner-up Returns for 94-Year-Old Trainer

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Jerry Bozzo has earned a measure of celebrity during Flutterby’s successful 2015 campaign that has put her breeder/owner/trainer’s name into Thoroughbred racing’s record book.





Aug 20 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Promising 2-year-olds ready for black type in Schenectady

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Friday's $100,000 Schenectady Stakes at Saratoga Race Couse, for 2-year-olds at 5 ½ furlongs on the Mellon turf course, features a field of five males and two fillies ready to add black type to their resume.

Entering for trainer Wesley Ward and Hat Creek Racing…


Aug 20 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Jones bringing formidable pair for G1 Alabama

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - When trainer Larry Jones last brought a Kentucky Oaks winner to Saratoga Race Course, Proud Spell captured the Grade 1 Alabama en route to 3-year-old filly championship honors.

Seven years later, Jones will try again with Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks heroine Lovely Maria…


Aug 20 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Baker’s duo set for Union Avenue

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Charlie Baker will hope to take advantage of his mares' agreeable running styles when he saddles the speedy Atlantic's Smile and the late-closing Make the Moment to take on graded stakes-placed Willet in the $100,000 Union Avenue for New York-bred fillies and mares 3-years-old…


Aug 18 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Triple Crown winner American Pharoah tops 16 nominated to Travers

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Triple Crown hero American Pharoah tops a list of 16 sophomores nominated to the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 29 at Saratoga Race Course.

Owned by Zayat Stables, American Pharoah breezed five furlongs in 1:00.13 Sunday morning at Del Mar, his first timed…


Aug 16 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)