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 Hall of Fame Voters Rate an A+

PLANTATION, FL, April 24, 2015—Looking at the roster of 2015 Hall of Fame inductees, which includes the late Chris Antley, trainer King Leatherbury and the exception runners Xtra Heat and Lava Man, makes me all warm and fuzzy within.

Where to start? Since neither a top jockey nor trainer can get the job done without the assistance of a winning Thoroughbred, let’s begin there:

On a personal level, I’ve been placing a check mark next to Xtra Heat’s name since she first appeared on my Hall of Fame ballot.

Now I fully realize that at a time when buying two-year-olds at auction was not de rigueur, $5,000 was a pittance for such brilliance and uncommon consistency, even back 2000. And what a bargain she proved to be.

Competing at the game’s highest levels, Xtra Heat won 26 of 35 lifetime starts and completed five exactas, off the board only twice in her Hall of Fame career.

Of those 26 victories, 25 came in stakes—and they didn’t write nearly as many of those ersatz overnight stakes as is done today.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)
Triumph and Near Tragedy at Charles Town

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., April 19, 2015—Wish I could celebrate Moreno’s record-setting victory in Saturday’s Charles Town Classic but I really can’t, for obvious reasons.

We’re happy, of course, early indications are that Shared Belief’s stifle injury, likely the product of his troubled start, is not career threatening.

We wrote in advance of the Classic about how it was a prep for a far more prestigious event against tougher competition than those he faced at Charles Town.

Clearly, we underrated Moreno, ideally suited by the bull ring’s tight turns and speedy nature of Saturday’s surface.

But we were correct about something else--our being the possible bacio della morte notwithstanding--stating: “You never want to get too far ahead of yourself in this game.”

Maybe that’s what Shared Belief had in mind in Charles Town, West Virginia; let’s get out of this gate as fast as possible and get this thing over with.

“He just seemed to slip in behind,” was Hall of Famer Mike Smith’s observation. We’ll take him at his word.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer indicated Sunday that the gelding will undergo a nuclear scan to determine the extent of the hind-end injury, reporting that Shared Belief was walking sound Sunday morning.

In any case it was a stutter-step start, hopping instead of striding out in those first early jumps and, just like that, he was about three lengths behind the group and seriously compromised.

Then, almost immediately, came the first of three turns, which was more problematic for Shared Belief than usual, considering the circumstances.

The champ, his connections and the public that made him their 3-to-10 choice, certainly deserved a better fate.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (5)

Money Maker Moreno and Other Memories

Los Angeles, April 22, 2015--Although I'm usually turned off when owners name their horses after themselves, the name of last year's Whitney winner never bothered me because it always reminds me of the lovely and talented Rita Moreno, of whom I'm a big fan.

So when Moreno the horse won the Charles Town Classic, I had a vision of Moreno the actress/dancer doing the Charleston. Absent the real thing, I offer HRI readers this video which definitely captured the experience.

What amazes me about Moreno is the frequency with which he has been underrated only to finish first or second, often rewarding his supporters with inflated vertical exotic payoffs.

That might not have occurred last Saturday had the over-hyped Shared Belief been able to apply his ability. It was unfortunate racing luck that the 3-10 favorite sustained an injury, a little more serious than was originally believed.

It wasn't the emotional drain many associate with Bernardini's Preakness victory at Barbaro's tragic expense, but rather was a ringing reminder that races are lost when least expected, the reasons too numerous to count.

There is no such thing as a sure thing, obviously. Even Secretariat had his issues, with the letter “W,” as in Wood, Whitney and Woodward.

My approach, then, is try to be prepared for the unexpected while attempting to leverage the expected. It's great when it works out, but it can be a long way between waterholes.

Written by Indulto | Comments (4)
Will Fortune Finally Smile on Advocate Upstart Violette?

Though April fouls
Have come your way
You've got the points
To run in May

So keep campaigning
And have no regrets
Because Upstart will start
For horseman Violette

LOS ANGELES, April 9, 2015--New York Thoroughbred Horsemen Association President, New York Racing Association Board member, and 2015 Kentucky Derby contender-qualifying trainer, Rick Violette, Jr., is leaving the Sunshine State – and its apparent disdain for snowbirding New Yorkers – as potentially a newly-minted horseplayer advocate.

It may turn out that horseplayer advocate is a be too optimistic, but Violette's apparent concern for racing's customers was quoted in a text to HRI’s executive editor John Pricci and later at Daily Racing Form: '"It's disappointing that as hard as [president] Tim Ritvo and [general manager] P.J. Campo are working to raise the standard of Gulfstream racing they will not be successful as long as they have the incompetence in the judge's stand and the maintenance of their racetrack," Violette said. "Nobody should feel confident with those people overseeing the racing product, especially the horse player."'

While Violette's remarks in the wake of a double dose of disqualification dispensing from both sides of the same offense may not merit induction into the Sportsman’s Hall of Shame, they do speak for having greater transparency and competency in the future.

Written by Indulto | Comments (2)

Top of racing loaded again but there’s trouble below

The 3-year-old crop of 2014 was exceptional. This year's group has shown the potential to be as good or better. Below the surface things are not as rosy as they will seem next Saturday.New Jersey racing is in jeopardy because its breeding program has all but evaporated. With casino subsidies being threatened in other states, this could be a preview of things to come. Like America, racing is in danger of losing its middle class.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (13)
Derby points should play a creative new role

Dortmund and Materiality have never lost. American Pharoah and Carpe Diem are unbeaten this year. But one of the top Kentucky Derby contenders could have his first defeat sealed before he steps onto the track. Whoever draws the No. 1 post is all but eliminated. This should not be the fate of any serious horse. Let one of the under-achievers swallow the poison pill. An easy way to accomplish this would be to have the connections pick their posts in the order of the points they have earned.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (56)

All Hail Conquering Pharoah

SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY, April 12, 2015—That’s it, right? All done? No more preps?

Finally, just two weeks of “just what we wanted, well within himself, couldn’t be doing any better” workouts leading up to the big dance and all that’s left is the betting.

Yes, being a little facetious because workouts at Churchill Downs do mean a lot: If it were possible, you could have asked Charlie Whittingham. Now you could speak with Carl Nafzger, or Graham Motion, or… But first things first:

Commented on a thread here that I wanted to see another dimension, and I did: I see the immediate future up ahead. It’s like you’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.

It’s a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's a signpost up ahead: your next stop: the Tri-light Zone.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (14)
Start Spreading the News: Get With the Program

SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY, April 7, 2015: California maybe be dominating the top of the HRI Kentucky Derby Power 10, and everyone else’s list, too, but never before this late in the prep season have New York-breds been in such a lofty position among the Derby elite.

Maybe it’s all that love emanating from a recent return to Queens where yellow cabs are now an outer-borough lime green and 5-time NBA All-Star Chris Mullin is poised to bring pride back to his once storied alma mater.

And it didn’t snow over the weekend, so life here is good.

In any case, just a mention that there are two New York-breds among the HRI Power 10 with a third, Saturday’s Wood Memorial runner-up Tencendur, on the AEs waiting to break in.

Holy Funny Cide!

Written by John Pricci | Comments (11)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Upstart, Frosted Conduct Final Pre-Derby Breezes at Palm Meadows

Triple Crown Contenders Each Breeze 5-furlongs in South Florida

Upstart Records Bullet in 59.95 seconds; Frosted Clocks in at 1:01.10

BOYNTON BEACH, FL – Triple Crown contenders Upstart and Frosted took the track just after 8:00 a.m. Saturday at Gulfstream’s satellite…

Apr 25 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Millions at Stake Saturday for Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6 Mandatory Payout

Pool Expected to be More Than $5 Million

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The countdown to Saturday’s mandatory payout of the lucrative 20-cent Rainbow 6 pool ended Friday at Gulfstream Park on a positive note for bettors hoping for a chance to cash in on a life-changing jackpot.

Apr 24 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Mandatory Rainbow 6 Carryover Payout

Anticipation Builds for Saturday’s Mandatory Rainbow 6 Carryover Payout

Carryover Jackpot Pool Stood at $1,357,478 for Friday’s Program
Pool Expected to Reach $5 Million-Plus if Wager goes Unsolved Friday
Grade 3 Miami Mile, Powder Break Stakes Included in Six-Race Sequence

Apr 24 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Kentucky Derby & Kentucky Oaks 141 Update


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Thursday, April 23, 2015) – Other than trying to forecast the winner of Kentucky Derby 141, probably the most tricky thing in Louisville this time of year is trying to forecast the weather.

Apr 24 | Categories: Kentucky Derby, | Comments (0)
Paulassilverlining headlines trio of stakes on Closing Day at the Big A

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Graded stakes winner Paulassilverlining headlines the final open company stakes race of Aqueduct Racetrack's Spring meet, Sunday's $100,000 Belle Harbor for 3-year-old fillies at 6 ½ furlongs.

Closing Day at Aqueduct will also include two New York Stallion Series…

Apr 24 | Categories: Aqueduct, | Comments (0)
Belmont Park opens Wednesday, April 29

$10 million Belmont Stakes Racing Festival set for June 4-6

ELMONT, N.Y. - Highlighted by the inaugural Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, encompassing three days of world-class stakes racing including the 147th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park opens on Wednesday,…

Apr 24 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Miami Mile (G3) Highlights 3-Stake Saturday Card at Gulfstream

Clement to Saddle Middleburg in Miami Mile, Discreet Marq in Powder Break
Mandatory Rainbow 6 Payout Could Climb as High as $5 Million

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Gulfstream’s spring stakes schedule kicks off Saturday with a three-stake slate headlined by the $100,000 Miami Mile (G3),…

Apr 22 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Tuesday, April 21, 2015) – Two hopefuls for the 141st Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), War Story and Mr. Z, are scheduled to work Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs.

Loooch Racing Stables, Glenn Ellis and Christopher Dunn’s War Story is scheduled to work…

Apr 21 | Categories: Kentucky Derby, | Comments (0)
Quotes from the $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn (G2)

Sandy Adkins (assistant to Gerry Aschinger, winning trainer of Dramedy)

On the decision to run Dramedy at 1½ miles for the first time
“Every time he’s run, he’s closed at the end and been hard to pull up after going a mile, a mile and a sixteenth. So a mile and a half was perfect.…

Apr 19 | Categories: Keeneland, | Comments (0)
Woodhaven Quotes

David Donk, winning trainer of Vision Perfect (No. 4): "It was a very gutsy, game performance off the layoff. He didn't have to win, but we're pretty pleased that he did. He's matured and filled out a bit [since his 2-year-old season], which is nice to see. It's been a little bit of a tough spring because…

Apr 19 | Categories: Aqueduct, | Comments (0)
Gulfstream News & Notes - Sat 4/18

Florida Derby Hero Materiality Tunes Up With ‘Super’ 5F Breeze
Stablemates Stanford, Itsaknockout, Competitive Edge Also Work
Oasis At Midnight Seeks Relief in Sunday’s Sand Dollar Stakes

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Alto Racing’s Materiality, who captured the $1 million…

Apr 18 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Distaff (G2) Quotes

Linda Rice, winning trainer of La Verdad (No. 4): "I wasn't happy when I saw [Aireofdistinction] coming after her early, and they were going pretty fast. I was a little concerned that was going to make it a real test on her fitness, but her ability is the key. She's got a lot of talent and is able to…

Apr 18 | Categories: Aqueduct, | Comments (0)