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'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

Nack Danced Like No One Was Watching

I am overwhelmed at the thought of writing this. The only comparison I can make is covering my first Kentucky Derby from the old Churchill Downs press box. I walked around for a while, had a beer, which I never do before writing, and walked around some more: The event was bigger than I was.

The news that a loved family member, a friend who enjoys such status, has passed, is always sad. And grief is a ritual that is unalterably the same. Shock leaves the starting gate first, followed closely by Deep Sadness and Life Must Go On. Celebration is always the slowest away from the slip.

Slip is a synonym for stalls. I use it because it’s a Bill Nack term and, from the beginning, he was the writer I wanted to be. I can’t exactly remember when I gave up that ghost, but I did so realizing that I could never cobble his prosaic style, only mimic it in the rare moment.

I was handicapping on a Saturday morning, a weekly ritual since 1961. The phone rang and my good friend Paul Cornman asked “if I heard.” That question is seldom accompanied by glad tidings. “Bill Nack passed last night.” In stunned disbelief, the news devastated me.

I knew that Bill was fighting cancer’s scourge and was beating it--his words the final time I saw him in Saratoga Springs last summer. He was a scheduled guest lecturer at the inaugural Equestricon.

Of course, Nack was waxing about Secretariat. When it wasn’t about Swaps, it was about Secretariat.

Coming from another exhibit, I was late to arrive but just in time to see Big Red of Meadow Stable curl into the wide expanse of Belmont Park’s far turn, a run memorialized by the late race caller Chic Anderson’s description of a horse “moving like a tremendous machine.”

Later, we visited, and were quickly joined by Ron Turcotte.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (23)
Racing Community, Procedural Law & Cuomo Clemency Program Supports License Reinstatement for Dutrow

As a result of a grass roots movement initiated by Churchill Downs’ all-time leading trainer Dale Romans, a petition supporting the reinstatement of Rick Dutrow Jr.’s license to train Thoroughbreds has attracted 1,916 signatures in less than a fortnight.

The support this petition attracted is as unique as the 10-year revocation of Dutrow’s trainer’s license based of an overage for a legal therapeutic medication and the discovery of vials containing another permissible drug, the latter from a highly controversial search of Dutrow’s barn in November, 2010.

In a 2016 amended Notice of Motion, the New York Gaming Commission Division of Thoroughbred Racing learned that the state’s lead investigator, Joel Leveson, perjured himself on multiple occasions based on interviews conducted with three NYRA investigators by the Queens County District Attorney’s Office.

The new evidence relies heavily on the testimony of NYRA investigator John McDonnell, a distinguished New York State Police investigator for 22 years prior to working for the New York Racing Association.

McDonnell came forward to “clear his name” after reviewing Leveson’s Hearing testimony.

NYRA’s investigator stated Leveson’s testimony “was inaccurate with what happened” during the search. McDonnell believed it was a random search conducted by Leveson. Juxtaposed, Leveson’s Hearing testimony indicated the search was conducted at the direction of McDonnell. McDonnell vehemently denied that assertion.

McDonnell also told the District Attorney’s office that Leveson found the syringes in a desk draw almost immediately upon entering Dutrow's barn office. “[I] was very uncomfortable with the sudden discovery of the items." In all his years, McDonnell said, “I was never that lucky.”

Written by John Pricci | Comments (28)

Daze at the Races

Ever have one of “those days” at the track? If you’ve been in the game long enough, of course you have. Had one of those Saturday; I left Gulfstream an $11 winner. Sorry but no, that’s not better than losing, given the possibilities.

Well, maybe a little better. But I’m an only child with no sister to kiss.

When you walk into a racetrack, a betting parlor, or fire up the computer, the possibilities are infinite. And that’s why we can’t give up this ghost, even though we’re often played like marks and for the countless times that the horses beat you. Check that; you beat yourself.

Of one the greatest sins a horseplayer can commit are those of omission, not commission. If you have a decent opinion, you probably expect to lose about seven of every 10, depending on how your luck is running or however many stupid pills you washed down with your morning coffee.

Good horseplayers beat themselves up, and deservedly so, after committing these crimes of omission. My friend Cary always believed that, but it was a lesson I had already learned, taught to me by a sharpster, a whale who befriended me while I was gigging at Suffolk County OTB.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (13)
Championship Numbers

5—Number of Florida Derbies won by trainer Todd Pletcher and Hall of Famer Johnny Velazquez:

This comes as a surprise to absolutely no one. Does Pletcher have the numbers and the horses to get the job done? Of course. Does Johnny do most of the riding in these spots? Obviously.

But this is a meet where their talents blend in with the task. Pletcher gets very expensive equine athletes that fits Gulfstream’s speedy track profile; a perfect match.

And, for how long now, a decade? More? Johnny V. is a position-conscious race rider who finds the sweet spot most every time he’s on the right horse—and even when he’s not—filling the vacancy left years ago when Jerry Bailey retired.

15--Number of consecutive training titles won by Pletcher. Again, numbers and quality of numbers. Then, guess what? The horses have to perform with most having targets on their back.

Gulfstream Park is not Saratoga. What is? But it’s a meet that everyone points for. Yes, Pletcher comes for a reason and not for the season—like Chad Brown apparently did this year. Most of his runners never left Palm Meadows’ state-of-the-art stalls.

134--Number of races won by defending jockey champion Luis Saez, an all-time record since the Gulfstream schedule began with the first Saturday in December and ends on the last weekend of March/first weekend of April.

Saez did it by riding for everyone, not simply by being locked in to one or two dominant barns. From the classiest stakes horses to bottom level claimers, his strategy, race riding and strength resulted in more late-driving finishes than anyone.

And a nice young man, too. As stated previously, this number may not be DiMaggio or Woody-like, but it’s hard to conceive it being topped. It took 39 multi-win days, including rolling two sevens and one six-pack. Phenomenal.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (2)

Scandal could be not what is bet late but what is un-bet

A funny thing happened on the way to the post for the Apple Blossom Stakes. More than $20,000 disappeared from the win pool on prohibitive favorite Unique Bella. She happened to miss the break, which probably cost her the race. The question of when and how this occurred had not been answered almost a week later. An explanation could have and should have been forthcoming in a matter of minutes. That it wasn't feeds suspicions of chicanery--remember the Fix Six--and provides ammunition for those who feel the large computer betting syndicates get special privileges, such as a late lock on the betting machines.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (6)
Blue Grass gets a huge boost; Wood not so fortunate

The Blue Grass Stakes and Wood Memorial are still smarting over their relegation to Grade 2 status. Their efforts to regain the top grade went in different directions last weekend. The presence of Eclipse winner Good Magic and Grade 1 winners Sporting Chance and Free Drop Billy injected luster into the Keeneland race, which was further enhanced by Good Magic's victory. The Wood put up an extra $250,000 to lure Grade 1 winners to New York but got only Firenze Fire, who is not the horse at 3 that he was at 2. It didn't help that he didn't hit the board. All NYRA has going for it now is the hope that Vino Rosso makes a major splash in the Triple Crown races.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (5)

Don’t Worry, Run Happy

The final two races of the prep season were run Saturday, producing two more double winners in the Derby playoff series. In winning the G1 Arkansas Derby and G3 Lexington Stakes, respectively, Magnum Moon and My Boy Jack joined Audible as the only three winners of more than one 2018 Derby qualifier.

The takeaway is this: Horsemen have raised the science of ducking competition to an art form. In the process, thanks to an unusually talented group of three-year-olds, anticipation for Kentucky Derby 144 is building to such an extent that the contest will be the equal of the hype surrounding it.

The rest of the Derby’s annual magic is already baked into this confection. The very best of the Eastern-based and Western-based horses are now prepared to meet on neutral sacred ground, competing at a distance with which none are familiar. And for that, May comes awfully early.

Three weeks hence, this Roses Run edition is virtually guaranteed to be one hell of a horse race for its immense possibility; the depth of top talent making it so. By 6:30 p.m. on May’s first Saturday, the best of them will emerge from the herd an American equine icon.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (4)
Pletcher and Winstar Have 4 in HRI Derby Power 10, Audible #1

As prep days go, Saturday’s three-year-old trifecta was the kind magical mystery tour that makes this year’s Kentucky Derby one of the most anticipated in years.

The day began with fireworks, followed by the vindication of a champion, and concluded with a meteor on the rise. It bears repeating: This is one talented bunch!

With Old Time Revival running off and setting the table for the battle to come, Restoring Hope ranged up alongside of the Wood Memorial favorite Enticed.

As Enticed stalked the leader from long range, Vino Rosso--so bad in Oldsmar yet so good in South Ozone Park--began his move from well off a strong pace following an awkward beginning from the widest slip.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (24)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Agreement Represents Giant Step Forward in Florida Racing

Florida Sire Stakes Highlights Innovative $2.5 Million Deal

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – P.J. Campo calls the recently-signed agreement between Gulfstream Park, the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (FTBOA) and Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective…

Dec 22 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Watershed looking to end year on high note in Queens County

Green Gratto faces talented field in $100,000 Gravesend

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Godolphin Racing's Watershed will headline a competitive field of nine in the $125,000 Queens County for 3-year-olds and up, one of two stakes races on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack alongside the $100,000…

Dec 22 | Categories: Aqueduct, |


Citing the widespread use of drugs on yearlings and two years olds that may result in improper bone development and the recent use of horse auctions to launder money for the…

Dec 14 | Categories: Horse Racing, |
Forever Unbridled Holds Off Abel Tasman To Win Longines Distaff

DEL MAR, Calif. (Nov. 3, 2017) – Charles Fipke’s homebred Forever Unbridled ($9.40) swept to the lead coming off the far turn and then held off a late bid from Abel Tasman by a half-length to win the 34th running of the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) for fillies and mares…

Nov 4 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, |
Rainbow 6 Hit at Gulfstream West for $177,500

Sunday’s Late Pick 5 Carryover $19,900

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – Gulfstream Park West’s Rainbow 6 was hit Saturday afternoon for $177,521.

The 20-cent wager had not been hit for 19 consecutive programs before Geh Schnell ($11.20), one of three live tickets in…

Oct 29 | Categories: Gulfstream West, |



Oct 29 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, |


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017)
– Cooler temperatures and the leaves changing colors signify the return of live horse racing to the Louisville area as Churchill Downs, the historic home of the Kentucky Derby, readies to open its 128th Fall Meet on Sunday,…

Oct 28 | Categories: Churchill Downs, |
Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Reaches $113,131 for Thursday

Tapit Filly My Favorite Gift Impressive Debut Winner
Jockey Jaramillo Enjoys Four-Win Afternoon

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved for the 17th consecutive program Wednesday, growing the carryover jackpot to $113,131.66 for Thursday’s eight-race program.

Oct 26 | Categories: Gulfstream West, |
World Championships

2017 Race Order, Wagering Menu and Guaranteed Pools Announced for World Championships

The Breeders' Cup announced today the official order of races, and guaranteed multi-race wagering pools for the 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Friday, November 3 and Saturday, November…

Oct 26 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, |
Wednesday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Grows to $100,250

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot for Wednesday’s program at Gulfstream Park West swelled to $100,250.35 Sunday when the popular multi-race wager went unsolved for the 16th consecutive program.

Multiple tickets with six winners Sunday returned $9,834.

Oct 24 | Categories: Gulfstream West, |
Breeders Crown

Caviart Ally looks to rebound in Breeders Crown final

Darlinonthebeach 'coming into form'

After letting a lead slip away in her elimination, Caviart Ally will try and be a little less zealous and a lot more powerful down the stretch in Friday’s $500,000…

Oct 24 | Categories: U.S. Trotting Assn., |
Rainbow 6 Grows to $87,000 at Gulfstream West

Sunday’s First Race 1:15 P.M.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – Gulfstream Park West’s Rainbow 6 continues to grow, bringing Sunday’s carryover to $87,606.62.

Multiple tickets with six winners Saturday returned $4.406.20.

First race post for Sunday’s…

Oct 22 | Categories: Gulfstream West, |