HRI Featured Writers
HRI Featured Writers

Pricci’s Free Race Analysis

Whenever his daily work schedule permits, HorseRaceInsider executive editor John Pricci will analyze that day's feature race from a major thoroughbred-racing jurisdiction.

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

Horseplayers Need Leadership and a New Beginning; Possible Keeneland Boycott Gaining Momentum

Los Angeles, CA, August 19, 2017--Just when horseplayers thought takeout relief at a major racing venue was a real possibility following encouraging remarks by Tim Ritvo regarding Santa Anita’s future viability, Keeneland shed its former horseplayer-friendly mantle by announcing substantial increases to takeout rates for its upcoming fall meet.

Last November, U.S. voters voiced their dissatisfaction with the political status quo and used their collective strength to demand a change in course. Whether or not the proposed new course is the best one is not the issue here but at least now politicians recognize that the electorate can no longer be taken for granted.

Well, a similar lesson needs to be learned by racing’s empowered stakeholders. Not all regulators, horsemen’s groups and track operators have demonstrated the same disdain and disrespect for racing’s customers but those that have are doing so with impunity.



Written by Indulto | Comments (11)
RITVO: “…Give them a level playing field…”

LOS ANGELES, June 14, 2017--Like the sun, Tim Ritvo has been dispatched from the East by a force of nature to try and brighten Santa Anita’s prospects for survival. Santa Anita is, after all, one jewel in The Stronach Group's crown that in recent years has become tarnished.

Current COO and chief troubleshooter Ritvo has given several interviews in which the primary theme was that the property is "under-performing" relative to its value.

Prior to last weekend, Ritvo used those forums to outline potential areas for changes as to how horsemen might handle their business in order to achieve better results for all.

On Belmont Stakes Day, however, he appeared on the Roger Stein Show and said some of the things many horseplayers have been saying for years, waiting only for track operators to act on their concerns.

"The customer, the player, they're the economic engine. When they stop playing, when they stop coming, racing will cease to exist. So we need to do everything we can to give them a level playing field with the highest level of integrity, and good betting platforms or field sizes, and [friendly] wagering platforms.

“We gotta be creative and we gotta give them what they want. It comes down to supply and demand. Bottom line is there's a bunch of signals out there every single day. The tracks that do the best job will
get the handle…"

"[Takeout] definitely has to be reduced ….

Anybody who has any brains knows that you cannot churn at 20% day in and day out and still survive."



Written by Indulto | Comments (46)

What to do with Arrogate a horseplayer’s dilemma

Arrogate was regarded as the best horse in the world less than a month ago and it was all but impossible to find anyone who would argue with that assessment. Then he fired a bummer for the ages at 1-20. He'll be prohibitively short again Saturday in the Pacific Classic. The old Arrogate is worth any price. But will we see the old Arrogate? No one, including Bob Baffert, especially Bob Baffert, has an explanation for what happened in the San Diego Handicap.This adds intrigue to a race that looked until July 22 to be a million dollar public workout.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (14)
High and low points of a week at the Spa

The Saratoga experience remains scintillating with the only downer NYRA, which gets tens of millions of dollars from the Aqueduct casino, not sharing any of the windfall with fans. To the contrary, it continues to nickel and dime (or $5 and $10) customers with unjustified price hikes. Meanwhile, Gun Runner is the latest champion to prove that Saratoga's reputation as the Graveyard of Favorites is more myth than reality.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (13)

Equestricon Breaks Quickly for the Fans, Less So For Players

SARATOGA SPRINGS, August 15, 2017—As trade shows go, depending on how much time and passion is devoted to the effort, what you see is exactly what you get. Whether it be trains, boats, cars, or comedians, standard are usually met.

In that context--and in that context only—when I left the Saratoga City Center, my socks remained right where they were when I put them on this morning.

But considering this is horse racing we’re talking about, it was difficult for true lovers of Thoroughbred sport--whether they were first attracted by the horse, the spectacle or the gambling, not to walk away captivated.

What was so impressive was that it happened in the first place. It was something that veteran racetrackers never thought they would see.

So the fact that Equestricon did happen made it an unqualified success. If one wanted to parse those words, the observer would say it was a very worthy first effort. It was the kind of debut that in time could move horse racing forward despite its many impediments.

We could not spend more than several hours a day on Monday and Tuesday but wanted to feel the atmosphere.

After cruising all the exhibits, many belonging to “signature event partners,” we thought the event was in the main nicely attended, especially considering Monday was a racing day.

We noted many of the organizations that one would have expected to see at a horse racing convention: America’s Best Racing, Breeders’ Cup, Daily Racing Form, National Museum of Racing & Hall of Fame, NYRA and TVG.

Other lesser-tiered partners were racetrack organizations; the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Keeneland, The Stronach Group and Woodbine.

We spent time at three conferences. The first was “Racing Media: Past, Present and Future.” We arrived during the session and assume that past media was addressed before taking our seat.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (31)
Trainer Battles Make for Good Sport, Betting Not So Much

SARATOGA SPRINGS, August 13, 2017—

DEAR DIARY,

The Who’s Hot-Who’s Not aspects of handicapping relating to current trainer and jockey standings are, as an exercise, somewhat perfunctory. And that’s the case at virtually every race meet in America, but not this one.

Saratoga is one meeting where everything is magnified, especially considering it’s the only lengthy session that still attracts wholesale mainstream media coverage, whether it be electronic, print or online.

So it follows that one of the major storylines here is the battle for leading trainer between last year’s champion, “local boy” Chad Brown of nearby Mechanicville, vs. perennial leader Todd Pletcher.

It does not escape us that this is a battle between upper-dogs, each having access to a couple of hundred of the best pedigrees in the world every year. Their operations never require rebuilding their as much as their need to simply reload.

Still, diary, in our first full week here, this competition has been pretty dramatic with Brown having a five-win when we arrived last weekend. Then the Pletcher barn began firing on all cylinders and the battle is on in earnest.

The sense is that Brown simply can’t help himself when it comes to winning races with a collection of the best stock he has trained to date while at once Pletcher seems like a man on a mission, wanting to reclaim a title he won a dozen times.

Most observers would agree that Pletcher is the more diplomatic of the two, both would likely downplay the intramurals and talk about how their goal is to make their owners happy by increasing the value of their stock. Make no mistake; that’s true, of course.

But this rivalry is real, each with a burning the desire to out-win his rival; the bigger margin, the better. It’s not like “these teams don’t like each other,” but it’s close.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (20)

New Spa Dirt Surface Needs Adjustments

Images of thoroughbreds emerging from the morning mist, or standing boldly on the racetrack before an idyllic multi-hued Saratoga sunrise, permeate social media, where very little happens without public critique.

Posts and tweets from the Spa started long before the current meet began and are so voluminous now it is hard to keep pace. One important thread I do follow concerns Saratoga’s main track, as reported for HRI on July 11.

Reiterating: SARATOGA: INSIDE INFO

Clocking horses and tracking racetracks, veteran clocker Bruno De Julio (Racingwithbruno‏ @Racingwithbruno) tweeted: “Saratoga Main Track - added materials - clay added to main. Turf course - new sod and new irrigation system - turf looks grand.”

We thanked De Julio for the good information, noting that additional clay in the track cushion will allow it to hold more water and that the main track could play differently when wet and as it dries out. The refurbished turf course is less like to play any differently.

As it turns out, the new composition of the racing surface needs a new and a different maintenance methodology to keep it in optimal shape for racing and training.


Written by Mark Berner | Comments (24)
NYRA On a Roll as Saratoga Approaches

The economic numbers for the first half of the 2017 U.S. racing year are in and the results are a mixed bag. Wagering, the monetary force that drives the game, was up for the entire year, the most recent in June in line with that. This is the good news.

The bad is that the rest of the economic indicators, those for purses, number of races, race days, number of starters and average field size were down across the board for the same periods; purses for the year being the lone positive.

All indicators are especially significant for the New York Racing Association because it handles 20 percent of all U.S. wagers. Some credit must be due NYRA for generating positive news because of the added visibility it provides via greater national exposure of its quality racing product.

The Stars & Stripes Festival at Belmont Park Saturday is the most recent example of the kind of “big-day” marketing philosophy NYRA employs to drive handle. Big NYRA races on live TV via the NBC and NBC Sports Networks lends heft to New York racing across the country.

Additionally, NYRA’s high quality house-produced “Belmont Live” and “Saratoga Live,” programs that can be seen on various FOX Sports networks, MSG+ and Altitude is the kind of video that the industry badly needs.


Written by Mark Berner | Comments (33)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Saratoga Race Course Notes 8/17

Fayeq gets G1 Travers work in early with half-mile breeze
• Travers-bound Irap 'coming around at the right time' for O'Neill
• Mott looks for Elate to move forward; Good Samaritan to work this weekend
• Sadler's Joy on target for G1 Sword Dancer
• Holy Helena in…


Aug 17 | Categories: Saratoga, |
‘Mama’ Back in ‘Pink’ Condition in Thursday’s First Race

Jockey Jesus Rios One Away from 2000 Win Mark
Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot at $153,087 for Friday’s Twilight Card

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Her six-race winning streak snapped by a third-place finish on turf last time out, Pink Mama returned to the main track and winning…


Aug 17 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
‘All-Stakes Pick 4’

Saratoga and Del Mar team up for 'All-Stakes Pick 4' on Pacific Classic Day and Woodward Day


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) announced today an "All-Stakes Pick 4" with a partnership between Saratoga Race Course and Del Mar Racetrack…


Aug 17 | Categories: Saratoga, |
A sextet of fillies face-off in G2 Lake Placid

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - A group of six 3-year-old fillies will run in the Grade 2, $300,000 Lake Placid at 1 1/8 miles on the turf Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.

Patricia Moseley's Proctor's Ledge returns in search of adding another water-themed race to her win column after closing…


Aug 16 | Categories: Saratoga, |
New Money Honey looks to cash in on switch to dirt in G1 Alabama

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - E Five Racing Thoroughbreds' New Money Honey will look to parlay her success on the turf to the main track when she makes her dirt debut in the 137th running of the $600,000 Alabama for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.

New Money Honey…


Aug 16 | Categories: Saratoga, |
Saratoga Race Course Notes 8/16

'Fit and happy' McCraken breezes for G1 Travers
• Lockdown ready for G1 Alabama after bullet work
• Coasted ready to roll in G2 Lake Placid; Miss Mystique to make stakes debut in Seeking the Ante
• Hot City Girl looks to repeat in Union Avenue after layoff


Aug 16 | Categories: Saratoga, |
Saratoga Race Course Notes 8/14

Competitive edition of G1 Travers attracts 17 nominations
• Highway Star remains on point for G1 Ballerina
• G1 Whitney winner Gun Runner 'happy' in half-mile work
• Bigger Picture eyes G1 Sword Dancer
• Holy Helena on target for G1 Alabama
• Old Friends…


Aug 14 | Categories: Saratoga, |
Thursday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Rises to $137,077

Bonita Fires Fresh to Win Panama City Handicap

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 carryover jackpot will stand at $137,077.94 when live racing resumes at Gulfstream Park Thursday.

The popular multi-race wager went unsolved for the 11th consecutive racing…


Aug 14 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Saratoga Race Course Notes 8/13

Songbird confirmed for G1 Personal Ensign
• Oscar Performance targets G1 Joe Hirsch after Secretariat win
• World Approval exits G1 Fourstardave win in fine fettle
• G1 Hopeful may be next for gutsy debut winner Oskar Blues
• Brown keeps focus on Saratoga despite…


Aug 13 | Categories: Saratoga, |
GRADE I ARLINGTON MILLION QUOTES

Joel Rosario (jockey, Beach Patrol, 1st): “They told me I had to get him out of the gate and get into a good position and let him find himself. It took a little bit of time, but he really found his way after. I appreciate the chance and the opportunity to be able to ride him today.”




Aug 13 | Categories: Arlington Park, |
Fourstardave (G1) Quotes

Mark Casse, winning trainer of World Approval (No. 7): "When we saw the rain was coming, Ms. [Charlotte] Weber was concerned and we talked about it a few times, and I thought his race was so good in the [Grade 2] Dixie, I thought the rain it wasn't going to hurt her. We couldn't get Julien [Leparoux]…


Aug 13 | Categories: Saratoga, |
Pure Silver romps field in G2 Adirondack

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - It took just a few strides out of the gate for Pure Silver to get her customary lead before she quickly took command of the field of seven in cruising to a 9 ½-length win in the Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.

Sent off at…


Aug 13 | Categories: Saratoga, |