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
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.


Bill Finley
Every weekend, and when there is breaking news, Bill Finley or members of the "Harness Racing Update" staff will provide HRI readers with the latest in harness racing information and opinion.


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

Daring Dancer: Poetry in Graham Motion

SARATOGA SPRINGS, July 23, 2014—Have to give a lot of credit to trainer Graham Motion and jockey Alan Garcia for turning around the fortunes of Daring Dancer in today’s Grade 2 Lake George.

Motion, winning the Grade 2 for 3-year-old fillies going a mile and a sixteenth on turf for the third time, didn’t let her completely flat performance downstate deter him from making another run in the Diana, but she rebounded in a manner that underscored her first two grass victories in which showed lots of promise.

With Garcia sitting ice cold saving ground throughout behind a moderate pace, he cut the corner beautifully with the filly, tipped her outside gradually, got her in high gear approaching the sixteenth pole and relentlessly bore down to catch A Little Bit Sassy, who had better position throughout and got the jump on the winner.

With Garcia switching to his left hand for the final hundred yards, the filly surged to win by a head, a surprising margin since no one was sure who even won the race until the judges posted it on the result board in a bang-bang photo finish.

“I honestly think it was the soft ground [when she finished fifth in the Wonder Again last time out],” said Motion post-race. “She was a different horse today. From the beginning she was right in the bridle. Alan gave her a beautiful ride.”

“Somebody had to win and I’m glad I won that race,” Garcia said. “I was looking for a hole but I decided to move outside. She [won] it spectacularly.”

That she did.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (3)
Dream Weavers

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, July 19, 2014—It is not so much that I’m conflicted as much as I’m a little distracted.

Here I am, with a front row seat to the best thoroughbred meet on the planet, and I’ve got harness horses on the brain, actually one juvenile trotter in particular.

Charles ‘Chip’ Foster lives in the condo next door, approximately 12 feet from my door.

About two months ago as I was preparing to leave for some big race on Long Island, Foster told me he had a nice trotting prospect who was a lot more advanced than others if his ilk at the harness track a quarter mile down the road from both of us.

I told Chip that once I get back from Long Island, I’ll come over to the qualifiers on Friday mornings and check him out. From that first Friday, I have yet to see him get beat.

On the Friday after the Belmont, Royal Deceptor, by RC Royalty from the Malabar Man mare, Art of Deception, took his qualifier under wraps in 2:06. The time wasn’t fast but his professionalism and his manners were.

The following week, the $11,000 Morrisville yearling purchase gave a virtual repeat performance, going a little faster, 2:05 3/5, before just ambling back to the barn like some old gelding that had just finished jogging.

Finally, with debut rapidly approaching, it was time to get a little more serious and the colt obliged, showing a speed dimension for the first time, taking the lead with a quarter-move and kept right on going like some energizer bunny of a trotting horse.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (2)

Untapable Question: Do Colts Hold Haskell Advantage?

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, July 22, 2014—For myself and many others, the best part of betting on the horses is the handicapping process; trying to figure things out, predicting the future.

In that context the learning process never ends, which is another thing that pleases inquiring minds. This came to mind with respect to Sunday’s Grade 1 Haskell, deep in both quality and contentiousness.

When it comes down to the betting, it is likely at post time that a filly will lead them. And this always comes as big news whenever a filly meets colts in a big spot. Think Rachel Alexandra’s Preakness and Woodward; think Zenyatta’s Classics, both of them.

The storyline goes that racing females and males is commonplace in Europe, but not so much here when the fairer sex meets the perceived stronger animal. Racing even compensates for this by giving females a weight allowance.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (5)
Stars n’ Stripes Grades: Box Office A, Execution B+

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, July 6, 2014—At the bottom line, the first Stars and Stripes Festival program held over the July 4th weekend, essentially Saturday’s five graded stakes program including two Grade 1s for three-year-olds on grass, was very successful.

More than 11,000 fans showed up on a glorious afternoon, or about twice the new normal, and the $16 million simulcast handle on the 10-race card beat last year’s totals—a tough comparison since the 2013 holiday program was conducted over a very long “weekend”—by $6 million.

And 11 races were carded last year so, yes, Virginia, quality does count.



Written by John Pricci | Comments (13)

NJ hellbent on adding sports betting to tracks


New Jersey is not letting a rebuff from the courts derail its plan to add sports betting to the menu at race tracks and casinos. Marijuana is against federal law, too, but the government is looking the other way at that. The belief is the same thing will happen if and when New Jersey begins taking bets on games, possibly as soon as the first week of the NFL season.




Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (5)
Florida allows Churchill to keep Calder casino, fire 241 racing employees

Florida racing is better off with Gulfstream in command and Churchill Downs out of the picture. But it's not right that CDI can make believe it still is involved in racing to keep its casino. While it is raking in the slots cash, CDI is laying off 241 employees, who worked in Calder racing. The only potential bright spot is Hialeah might be closer to getting back into the game.



Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (2)

L’Affaire Martin: Del Mar Wants It Both Ways

SARATOGA SPRINGS, July 15, 2014—This time, it was the other, silent member of “Dumb Ass Partners,” Perry Martin, who jumped ugly on the subject of dual Classics winner and 2014 Horse of the Year co-favorite, California Chrome.

Yes, this is the same man that blew off the Preakness in a fit of Derby pique and who recently raked Del Mar over the coals for having the temerity to suggest that “America’s Horse” be honored with a parade between races on Pacific Classic day.

The story has been told in different precincts and in disparate versions and there seems to be enough “blame” to go around about a much-ado-about-very-little incident that became front page racing news because Kentucky Derby winners always are.

And that’s especially true this time when the Derby-Preakness winner’s story didn’t end on the sand and loam of Belmont Park but rather on the front page of national and network media after Steve Coburn’s meltdown following Chrome’s crushing Triple Crown defeat.

Finally, with his wife at his side like some politician who got his business caught in some cookie’s jar, Coburn, after doubling down on his post-Belmont rant the following day, made a humbling, tearful apology before a network audience the day after that. It was a case of all's well that ends.

If anything, Coburn’s knee jerk tirade and Martin’s insensitivity indicates that it just might be harder for connections of any good horse to hold their best form for over two months than it is for their equine athletes. Clearly, it was time for a badly needed freshening.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (8)
Will Del Mar Horseplayers Double Their Pleasure?

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, July 11, 2014—There’s a rumor being circulated on the Internet that the Thoroughbred Owners of California are considering a return to the higher takeout rates on Daily Doubles currently in place at Del Mar.

This can’t possibly be true, can it? Don’t they read newspapers out there? Has Internet commentary and social media reached lower California yet?

Hasn’t any owner out West ever heard of Churchill Downs?

Takeout deniers, much like climate change “non-scientists,” believe more in spin than science, coincidence over statistics, and obfuscation over progress. However anyone spins it, the Churchill Downs boycott was largely responsible for handle losses of $48-millionat the 2014 spring meet.

The Dow Jones is hovering around 17,000 for a while now, California Chrome gave the sport a bounce, in a Wall Street sense, this spring, and fields are smaller everywhere.

So, what else could it be?


Written by John Pricci | Comments (19)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Lake George (G2) Quotes

Graham Motion, trainer of winner Daring Dancer (No. 2):
"[Jockey] Alan [Garcia] said she never picked up the bridle [in the loss at Belmont, when fifth in the Wonder Again]. I honestly believe it had to be the soft ground. I was having kittens in the paddock here when it started to rain, because…


Jul 24 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Tonalist looking to maintain momentum in G2 Jim Dandy

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Late winter proved to be a frustrating time for trainer Christophe Clement when it came to his talented 3-year-old colt Tonalist, whose campaign had to be put on hold after he developed a lung infection while in south Florida.

Given ample time to recover and develop,…


Jul 24 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Saratoga Race Course Notes: Wednesday, July 23

• Zito looking forward to seeing Spot run long in Friday's Curlin
• Departing working toward G1 Whitney start for trainer Stall
• Motion barn loaded for upcoming turf stakes at Spa
• Better Lucky to point to G1 Ballerina following Shine Again victory




Jul 24 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Shine Again Quotes

Tom Albertrani, winning trainer of Better Lucky (No. 6): "I was getting a little bit concerned until I saw the :44 and change pop up there, and then I thought she could close; it would just be a matter of getting there in time. When they were turning for home, I could see she was getting a little closer,…


Jul 22 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Saratoga Race Course Notes: Monday, July 21

• Champion Will Take Charge, aiming for G1 Whitney, posts early morning workout
• Ulanbator breezes for G2 Jim Dandy
• Harpoon takes aim at Thursday's $100,000 Quick Call
• Gyarmati considering G2 Amsterdam with Noble Moon; Sweet Reason remains on target for G1 Test
•…


Jul 22 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Stopchargingmaria earns first G1 win in Coaching Club American Oaks

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Stopchargingmaria picked up her first Grade 1 victory in her third attempt with a facile victory in the 98th edition of the Grade 1, $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on Sunday at Saratoga Race Course.




Jul 21 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
G1 Coaching Club American Oaks Quotes

Todd Pletcher, winning trainer of Stopchargingmaria (No. 1): "It kind of unfolded the way we wanted it to on the first turn. We were able to get the position we wanted. She had a good trip from there, and it worked out well."




Jul 21 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Lucky Coin Quotes

Bruce Brown, winning trainer of Spring to the Sky (No. 6): "For him that was a pretty slow first quarter compared to what he did last time. It was almost like he rated him on the lead. That's the one thing with a speed horse, you just love to see when they can finish like that. He'll be able to win more…


Jul 21 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Saratoga Race Course Notes 7/20

• Palace Malice, pointing toward G1 Whitney, turns in Sunday breeze
• Kid Cruz works five furlongs in 1:03.57, possible for G2 Jim Dandy
• Somali Lemonade, nearly retired, becomes G1 winner in Diana
• Big Trouble rewards Dutrow's faith with G3 Sanford win
• Hot Stones…


Jul 21 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Saratoga Race Course Notes: Saturday, July 19

• Tonalist tunes up for Grade 2 Jim Dandy with five-furlong breeze
• Wicked Strong, wearing blinkers for the first time, breezes in preparation for Jim Dandy
• Samraat gears up with half-mile work; Jim Dandy likely
• Legend turns in five furlong work in advance of Jim Dandy

Jul 19 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Saratoga Race Course Notes: Friday, July 18

• Wise Dan turns in four-furlong work in preparation for Saratoga start
• Will Take Charge targets Grade 1 Whitney
• Wicked Strong gearing up for Grade 2 Jim Dandy
• Caroline Thomas gets another taste of Grade 1 racing in the Diana
• Bridgehampton meets graded stakes-caliber…


Jul 19 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Sir Cat Quotes

Bill Mott, winning trainer of Tourist (No. 5): "It didn't surprise me [he improved when switched to the turf]. The problem was, he ran just well enough on the dirt that we kind of kept trying him. We all want a Derby horse, right? We tried him one or two extra times on the dirt than, maybe, was to his…


Jul 19 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)