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.


Mark Berner
Mark has been a groom, clocker, handicapper, sportswriter, columnist and editor at various times throughout a career that has spanned more than three decades. His reporting and opinions on Thoroughbred racing can now be read on HRI in his "Inside New York" 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.


John Parisella
John Parisella has enjoyed a legendary career as a "horseman's horseman." At last count, he won 27 races with 27 different horses at 27 different tracks. His observations will appear bi-weekly, Mondays and Fridays in his "Parisella At the Races" 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

Impending Danger: Industry Needs to Heed Worrisome Trend

LOS ANGELES, September 26, 2016—Horseplayers didn’t just lose an advocate this week, they lost an activist. Motivations vary, but activism generally requires passion, dedication, commitment, and sacrifice to be effective. There is a price to be paid for such expenditure of personal resources, and Lenny Moon finally decided that price was too high.

Unlike some of his predecessors, Moon didn’t pass away or even fade away. Though not explicit, his final blog piece, "Crossing the Finish Line, suggested he succumbed to his obsession with the game.

The volume of sympathetic comments to that piece, including some from well-known internet voices, were not only a testament to his popularity but also indicative of how frequently horseplayers struggle to balance their passion for the game with their family responsibilities.

Among what he counted as his successes, he wrote:

"The organization that most resonated with me and my belief system regarding horse racing was HANA, the horse player founded group that is the voice of the customer in the industry. I wrote for their free monthly newsletter for the past several years, which provides more value than anything else the industry puts out and it’s not behind a paywall. I helped get out the word when they convinced a few tracks to lower their takeout rates. Most importantly I worked hard with them to punish Churchill Downs for raising their takeout rates. The tens of millions of dollars in lost handle that first year and each year since are proof that I was on the right side."

That wasn’t always the case.


Written by Indulto | Comments (19)
Can Breeders’ Cup Think Outside the Box?

LOS ANGELES, September 10, 2016--Following Arrogate’s Travers victory, Bob Baffert announced he would train the colt up to the Breeders’ Cup thereby signaling Juddmonte’s implicit willingness to pay $150K for the privilege of entering the BC Classic starting gate.

Although the prestigious Travers amply rewarded the winner with $670K, it was not a Classic Win-And-You’re-In (WAYI) as was the Haskell. Indeed, the latter at 9 furlongs is the only WAYI for three-year-olds despite the Travers’ 10 furlongs as the Classic.

Six berths in the Classic’ starting gate have already been spoken for by Moanin (February S. [Tokyo]); Bradester, (Stephen Foster H.); Melatonin (Gold Cup at Santa Anita); Exaggerator (Haskell); Frosted (Whitney) and California Chrome (Pacific Classic).

Two remain up for grabs, the Awesome Again and the Jockey Club Gold Cup with California Chrome targeting the former and a $1M bonus sweetener, so unless you want a piece of Chrome before the big dance, there’s really only one way to go.


Written by Indulto | Comments (13)

How About Preps for Belmont Fall Three-Year-Olds?

ELMONT, NY, September 27, 2016 – In 1971, Philadelphia mayor James Tate unexpectedly resigned from his third term and appointed Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo as his replacement. Many questioned the legality of the move but no one legally challenged it.

Rizzo had the reputation of being a notorious cop who left a brutal legacy. Like George Wallace before him and now Donald Trump, Rizzo preyed on white working-class fears of the city's rising violent crime rate and made no bones about his racist distaste for blacks.

"Just wait after November, you'll have a front row seat because I'm going to make Attila the Hun look like a faggot," he said of his enemies during his 1975 re-election bid.

Another move of Rizzo's was to increase taxes. So much so that Thoroughbred racing pulled out of Liberty Bell Park and Keystone Race Track was quickly constructed on the site of a pig farm in Bensalem Township, just north of the city line about 3 miles from where Liberty Bell once stood.

Keystone opened in November of 1974 with all the charm of a strip mall. In fact, because of the large “K” attached to the grandstand, many people dubbed it the K-Mart of racing.

Now renamed Parx Casino and Racing, the track was the site of last weekend's major Thoroughbred races, including the Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion Stakes of course, the latter a hold-over from Liberty Bell.

But here’s a question: How can a second-tier track eclipse racing at Belmont Park? The answer is that the New York Racing association offers no races for 3-year-olds of either sex on dirt at its Belmont fall meeting.

Now that's a serious hole in the NYRA's stakes schedule.


Written by Mark Berner | Comments (1)
The Dog Days of Belmont Fall

ELMONT, NY, September 13, 2016 – My friend and colleague, the late Bill Leggett, a multiple Eclipse Award winning turf writer while at Sports Illustrated--when racing was still considered mainstream--had a theory that turnstiles didn’t go far enough.

What was lacking, Leggett thought, was that the counter lacked a mechanism that would flip customers over to empty their pockets before sending him back out the same way he came in, thereby eliminating the parimutuel middle man.

When he made that comment Leggett was referring to the turnstiles at Belmont Park. My snarky reply was “NYRA won't be happy until no one comes.”

Leggett’s theory and my reaction were made during a different era, under a different NYRA regime. However, it came only 10 years after the New York Racing Association opened its new Arthur Froehlich-designed building in 1968.

If you attended opening day at Belmont Park last Friday, you could have witnessed for yourself that NYRA appears to be closer to reaching the goal of zero than it ever has in its history.

While Leggett's prophecy is close to reaching fruition downstate, the exception continues to be in Leggett’s hometown of Saratoga Springs.


Written by Mark Berner | Comments (24)

Special Report: Pennysylvania Derby Day a Family Affair

By Zac Coffman
Special Correspondent


BENSALEM, PA., September 24, 2016--Parx was in the national spotlight Saturday as they hosted the annual Pennsylvania Derby Day card, this year featuring a three-year-old championship duel between Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and Preakness winner Exaggerator.

Walking through the crowd early in the day, however, you could have questioned whether this rivalry should have graced the billboards promoting the day’s events, or maybe it neither of them. Maybe it should have been the filly Songbird all along.

Arriving at the track two hours before first post - it was great to see the entire apron filled with excited fans, young and old, something you barely see enough of nowadays—watching the elders introduce their youngsters to the game.

Once they day got started, bettors dove into the day’s program, sharing opinions not only with other bettors that came to see the spectacle but, more importantly, getting some special selections from their kids--like sixth race third-finisher Here’s a Jetpack at 55-1!

From the opener, it was impressive to see rail positions completely filled, especially since Parx is infamous for having one of racing’s highest takeout rates, a contributing factor as to why the track struggles to fill even half the rail on a normal race day.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (7)
Some Positive News for a Change

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., September 19, 2016—The recently concluded meet at Kentucky Downs is a trend-busting phenomenon that represents a victory for racing because it’s a winner for the player.

Not that winning money there is easy; winning is never easy. But you’ve got a chance to make money because true value is available and the interest is there because, on balance, horseplayers love turf racing.

With record purses attracting full fields, Kentucky Downs closed its five-date boutique meet September 15 with total wagering up nearly 34 percent, an astounding figure. Compared to last year, which was great, it was equivalent of an added sixth day.

Betting on the closing program was $3.6 million, bringing all-sources handle to $22.5 million for 2016. Not bad for a five-day meet spread over two weeks at a track in the middle of nowhere battling significant major league competition.

I played and lost, but am looking forward to the 2017 session. I wagered three days, lost two, and nearly won enough the third day when, forgetting to take my stupid pills, nearly got even for my personal incursion into the Kentucky countryside.

Form-wise, my only beef is that results there reflect parimutuel feast or famine. On one hand, bettors get solid prohibitive choices at greater than odds-on, e.g. Kitten’s Cat comprehensive victory at 5-2.

But there are too many more examples where complete chaos rules. That’s the good news and bad news about $130,000 two- and three-year-old maiden races on grass.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (62)

PARX in National Spotlight: No Males for Songbird; Nyquist Seeks Title

Songbird, who goes for 11 in a row Saturday in the Cotillion, won't risk her undefeated record against colts this year, according to her trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Meanwhile, Nyquist's trainer, Doug O'Neill, said the Pennsylvania Derby might be the Kentucky Derby winner's last shot to regain his status atop the 3-year-old male division. Both camps say the two outstanding sophomores have the $12 million Pegasus on Jan., 28 at Gulfstream in their long range plans.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (20)
Lots of questions still surround $12 million race

To the surprise of many, it appears the $12 million Pegasus will actually happen on Jan. 28 at Gulfstream. A media event is scheduled for next week to promote what will be the world's richest race. It should be a lively session with many questions still to be answered, including whether this is a good thing for racing, inasmuch as owners are being asked to put up the entire purse. But Frank Stronach deserves credit for characteristically thinking big for the benefit of racing

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (13)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Three Rules, Cajun Delta Dawn Breeze For Oct. 1 Florida Sire Stakes

Undefeated Juveniles Eye Series Sweeps on $1.6 Million Stakes Card

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Undefeated Three Rules and Cajun Delta Dawn breezed at Gulfstream Park Saturday in preparation for Florida Sire Stakes sweep attempts next Saturday on a program featuring eight…


Sep 25 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Belmont Park Notes, Sunday, September 25

Brown's fleet preps for "super" Saturdays; Connect in good form following upset victory in Pennsylvania Derby
• Pletcher readying Ectot, J.S. Choice, Off the Tracks, Theory, Nonna Mela, Cherry Lodge, Syndergaard, et al for upcoming stakes engagements
• Effinex and Shaman Ghost…


Sep 25 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Mrs McDougal goes gate-to-wire to win G3 Noble Damsel

ELMONT, N.Y. - Mrs McDougal started strong and held off all challengers in the seven-horse field for a gate-to-wire victory in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Noble Damsel for fillies and mares at Belmont Park.

Breaking from post 5 under Irad Ortiz, Jr., the Chad Brown-trained daughter of Medaglia…


Sep 25 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Churchill Downs Stakes Recap & Quotes

MINES AND MAGIC WINS SATURDAY NIGHT’S $100,000 DOGWOOD;
ARABIAN HORSE OF THE YEAR PADDYS DAY ROLLS IN PRESIDENT OF UAE CUP

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016)
– G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s homebred Mines and Magic muscled her way through an opening at the top of the…


Sep 25 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Friday at $58,000

Super Hi 5 Carryover

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Gulfstream Park’s 20-cent Rainbow 6 will have a carryover Friday of $58,649.90.

Multiple tickets Thursday with six winners returned $3,094.78.

First race post time is 1:15 p.m. Friday’s Rainbow 6 sequence starts…


Sep 22 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Churchill Downs Stakes Advance

EMMZY ATTEMPTS TO LAND FIRST STAKES WIN IN SATURDAY NIGHT’S DOGWOOD

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016)
– Zayat Stables LLC’s Indiana Oaks (Grade II) runner-up Emmzy landed the outside post in a field of eight 3-year-old fillies as she attempts to land her first stakes…


Sep 22 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
Double Pick 6 carryover of $106K on tap Friday at Belmont Park

ELMONT, N.Y. - The Pick 6 eluded bettors for the second consecutive day on Thursday at Belmont, triggering a two-day carryover of $106,527 into Friday's card.

Thursday's Pick-6 began with Sweetrayofshine's ($5.90) win in Race 5, followed by 43-1 longshot American Mink ($89.50) upsetting…


Sep 22 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Mrs McDougal looks for another graded stakes win in G2 Noble Damsel

ELMONT, N.Y. - Mrs McDougal will look to add a second graded stakes victory to her ledger as she headlines a field of eight fillies and mares 3-years-old and up in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Noble Damsel at Belmont Park.

A 4-year-old, Mrs McDougal will gain class relief after back-to-back…


Sep 22 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Rises to $41,185 for Sunday’s Card

Super Hi-5 Carryover of $5,383 for First Race
Trainer David Braddy Notches Win No. 999
Tyler Gaffalione Rides Four Winners

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL
– The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved for the sixth straight racing program Saturday at Gulfstream Park, producing a $41,185.45…


Sep 18 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
A family affair: On Leave makes the grade in G2 Sands Point

ELMONT, N.Y. - Stuart Janney III's homebred On Leave kept her 2016 record intact with a 2 ¾-length front-running victory against 3-year-old fillies on the turf in Saturday's featured race, the Grade 2, $500,000 Sands Point at Belmont Park.

On Leave broke alertly under jockey Jose Ortiz…


Sep 18 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Not This Time Dominates Iroquois

NOT THIS TIME DOMINATES IROQUOIS AT CHURCHILL DOWNS;
TAKES ‘ROAD TO THE DERBY’ LEAD, EARNS TRIP TO BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016)
– Albaugh Family Stable’s homebred Not This Time, a half-brother to last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt…


Sep 18 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
Strong 2-Year-old Program Makes Gulfstream a Track for All Seasons

Three Rules, Cajun Delta Dawn, Gunnevera Lead Class of ‘16

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL
– A sensational day of racing on the Sept. 3 Florida Sire Stakes (FSS) program contributed significantly to the growing realization within the Thoroughbred industry that Gulfstream Park no longer has…


Sep 16 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)