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

When Will ARCI’s Integrity Apparatus Act Exactly

In this week’s episode of how to make the game better, we only need return to a few weeks ago when, after a couple of tough stewards’ calls, my judgment of what constitutes a foul changed.

For various and sundry reasons. I now believe a foul is a foul. Race riding is out of control and somebody is going to get hurt, or worse.

My evolution was underscored yesterday as the tote board lights were blinking in Bensalem: The beef was between Cotillion favorite Monomoy Girl and runnerup Midnight Bisou, the field’s other two-turn Grade 1 winner.

The issue was affirmed when veteran TVG analysts Mike Joyce and Kurt Hoover, while voicing-over continual head-on replays of the incident--agreed that it could go either way (each believed the result should stand) but were as baffled as the viewers.

“It depends on how they interpret the rules in Pennsylvania, I’m not sure,” said Joyce. Hoover wasn’t sure either sure—and that made three of us.

The point is everyone, including knowledgeable veterans, isn’t sure what the parameters are at every track. Offensive holding isn’t any different in Pennsylvania than it is in Florida. Neither should what is permitted in racing.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (24)
My New Kentucky Home: Up and Downs

Pick an adjective: Phenomenal, Remarkable, Extraordinary, Prodigious, Astounding?

Well, if the topic is horse racing, more specifically Kentucky Downs, why parse words? Just box’em up.

And whether the measure is aesthetics, quality racing (even at the lowest levels), field size, entertainment value or horseplayer friendliness, making another box would be the proper tack.

Business was incredible at the five-day meet that ended Thursday. Since 2013 handle has tripled, from $12.8 million to $36.4 million this year; quintupled from $7.5 million since the 2012 inaugural meet.

And it’s easy to understand why. By traditional standards, this old Dueling Downs meet is unique. All turf all the time, and a European non-symmetrical layout with undulations.

But when a meeting distributes $10.2 million in purses over 50 races, money not only makes the mare run but colts and geldings as well. And lots of them; 552 runners with an average field size of 11.04 entrants.

Given all the above, coupled with the fact that the Horseplayers Association of North America ranks Kentucky Downs first among 63 North American racetracks. It’s blended takeout rates are the lowest on the continent, it’s burgeoning popularity inevitable.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (28)

Did Kentucky Downs Stewards Get It Right?

Among the favorite causes of consternation that horseplayers express here with regularity is the inconsistency by which fouls are adjudicated.

The most recent example of how various teams of stewards interpret events differently in diverse states was on display yesterday concerning a race at one of America’s favorite new betting venues, Kentucky Downs.

The non-disqualification of Fooch from Saturday’s second race at this popular boutique session was not particularly egregious--even though personally I might have taken Fooch down and placed him third.

The incident was another one of those bang-bang plays that occur in the shadow of the finish line which by definition makes it a tough call, but it does get to the principle of what exactly makes a foul a punishable offense.

Should a foul be considered a foul under any reasonable circumstances? Or should inquiries/objections be decided on whether or not stewards believe an incident, even one perceived as minor, adversely affected the result.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (6)
Can a Triple Crown Winner Actually Lose Horse of the Year Status?

When it was recently suggested in the comment section at HRI that Accelerate--the handicap division star that sits atop the NTRA National Poll—had a chance to become 2018 Horse of the Year, I smiled.

…And I could hear TJ harrumphing at the notion from Jensen Beach to Pahrump and back again.

A Horse of the Year other than a Triple Crown winner, an undefeated one at that, the only other since Seattle Slew and the conqueror of the Shadow of Apollo. As McEnroe one famously said: “You cannot be serious.”

But you know what?

Whether Accelerate runs the table through Breeders Cup or not, the balance of Catholic Boy’s 2018 campaign could give—could being the operative word—this voter Horse of the Year pause.

Yes, I know, it’s sacrilegious, and this is strictly conjecture because the Catholic Boy camp has no apparent Horse of the Year aspirations. But they might want to give one scenario some thought.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (25)

Racing’s Think Tank Needs to Set Sights Higher

LOS ANGELES, September 16, 2018--With my nose stuck in the Past Performance charts for Saratoga, Del Mar, Monmouth, and Arlington last month, a lot of racing-related news and op-eds got past me.

Among them was the introduction of the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation (TIF) which recently presented its first offering.

Written by Indulto | Comments (0)
Hard-Nose Justify Will Go Down in History

LOS ANGELES--It’s amazing how readily hyperbole can polarize any conversation these days. For every enthusiastic supporter of some allegedly positive aspect of racing or politics, there seems to be a skeptic, contrarian, or conspiracy theorist willing to rebut that position.

In that spirit, I respectfully challenge the following statement by HRI Executive Editor, John Pricci, in his recent "On the Line Blog piece:
”What is ... indisputable is that what Justify achieved over a period of 112 days was the greatest achievement ever in the sport’s long and storied history.”

First, I feel compelled to question whether the level of accomplishment was higher for the trainer than the horse. Second, couldn’t we at least wait until the true mettle of those Justify defeated can be determined in his absence before applying such a superlative?

Despite media exaggeration, those deserving stellar status still shine brightly. Most would agree that Justify, Gun Runner, Arrogate, California Chrome, and American Pharoah deserve their accolades, as do Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra.

Lesser lights have shined brightly, but briefly, streakers such as Snow Bird, Nyquist, and I'll Have Another; firecrackers like Animal Kingdom, Will Take Charge, Game On Dude, Beholder.

Were West Coast and Collected simply one hit wonders?

Taken at face value, the Justify saga is certainly extraordinary: A three-year-old colt wins six straight races over 112 days to go from unraced maiden to undefeated Triple Crown Winner, Divisional champion, and probable Horse of the Year.

In the process, he also won two Derby-qualifying preps, and proved as adept on wet surfaces as on dry ones. Perhaps he could have run faster, but there was never any need to do so. So what’s not to like?

For older fans like me who savored the extended successful careers of Kelso and Forego, and the rivalries of Dr. Fager and Damascus, Affirmed and Alydar, and Sunday Silence and Easy Goer, it feels less like a loss and more like a robbery.

Written by Indulto | Comments (0)

Racing on Television Needs a New Perspective

When viewing races on television, the New York Racing Association is the industry leader in terms of production and forward thinking technologies.

Indeed, the NYRA produces more racing programming nationally than the rest of the industry combined. It also leads in streaming its races via NYRANow, NYRABets and on its website,

Despite NYRA’s lead in this area, no one representing them gave a presentation at the 66th annual Jockey Club Round Table during the recently concluded race meet.

The McKinsey report, commissioned by The Jockey Club, was the focal point of the Round Table. McKinsey & Company is a global business management consultant specializing in the business of sports.

And when that report was presented, the stewards of the sport only heard words that applied to one medium: Television. And not only did they fail to get input from an organization does it best but apparently is only learning that television in its present state is not the answer going forward.

Jockey Club Chairman Stuart Janney was quick to pick up on the fact that only 24 racetracks supply a high definition signal to TVG--but McKinsey did not state that TVG is mostly carried on standard definition cable channels.

The demographics that racing covets does not watch conventionally broadcast TV. They sometimes watch on a TV, but not the major networks. The closest they get to that is ESPN, which broadcasts the X-Games but once upon a time did actually show horseracing.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (40)
Money Laundering in Horse Racing News?

The New York Racing Association conducts North America’s elite meet for Thoroughbreds at Saratoga Race Course each summer. Horseplayers, stakeholders and horsemen always strive to be there.

However, some never get to go to the races at The Spa. Most of the characters in “Missionville,” a novel by Alex Brown, are among those who do not ever get to go to the storied racetrack in New York’s Adirondack Mountains.

Brown, a long-time equestrian, penned a suspense-filled Thoroughbred mystery equal to that of legendary Dick Francis in his first try at writing fiction.

With precision, Brown focused on today’s controversial topics with the insight of a horseman. And with “Missionville,” the author of Barbaro’s official biography hit the equivalent of a literary Pick 6.

The novel is set at Missionville--the eponymous racetrack of Missionville. The track is owned by the richest man in a small Pennsylvania town, Harry Mitchell.

Harry Mitchell, his trainer, Mike Franks, and their three-year-old colt, Dancer’s Foil, are the only ones from Missionville to make it to Saratoga, where they take on a Triple Crown winner in the Travers Stakes.

Is it art imitating life? “There’s some of Pete in me,” author Brown said of his main character, trainer Pete Wright. “I’ve trained one or two horses over the years, but Pete more closely resembles a few of my friends. We are all horsemen and we all hang out in bars.”

Or the other way around? “I think Missionville is a great model for money laundering,” said Brown. “There are so many opportunities to clean money through betting, paying cash for your help, owning racehorses, etc.”

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (30)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Mandatory 20-cent Rainbow 6 Payout Set for Saturday

Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Swells to $898,654
Mandatory Payouts Also Set for Late Pick 5, Last Super Hi-5
Princess Rooney (G2), Smile (G3) Top Summit of Speed Card

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Saturday’s Summit of Speed program, headlined by the $250,000 Princess…

Jun 30 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Curlin’s Approval, X Y Jet Top June 30 Summit of Speed Nominations

Curlin’s Approval to Defend Title in $250,000 Princess Rooney (G2)
Alter Homebred among 23 Noms for ‘Win and You’re In’ Event
X Y Jet Tops List of 16 Noms for $250,000 Smile Sprint (G3)
Multiple Grade 1-Placed Gelding Seeks 6th Straight at Gulfstream


Jun 20 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Madame Uno Seeks Rebound in Saturday’s $100,000 Ginger Punch

Jockey, Trainer, Owner Races Heats Up

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Her three-race win streak halted abruptly last time out, Madame Uno will seek to rebound in Saturday’s $100,000 Ginger Punch at Gulfstream Park.

The 4-year-old daughter of First Dude is scheduled…

Jun 14 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Justify vs. nine in Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes

It's Triple Crown hopeful Justify vs. nine in Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets

Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner draws post 1, is 4-5 to win Saturday's "Test of the Champion"

By Jenny Kellner

ELMONT, N. Y. - Can he do…

Jun 6 | Categories: Belmont Stakes, |
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, |