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

Non-Professional Players Demand Parimutuel Justice

Diversity of opinion is what makes horse racing possible. Everybody has one and, parimutuelly speaking, unpopular opinions can even make one rich.

But horseplayer advocacy deals with issues that can’t be settled with a finish line and a camera, and consensus among its practitioners is rare.

So I was surprised when two of HRI's tested, trusted, thoughtful, and talented turf writers, Tom Jicha and John Pricci, respectively, told recreational bettors in tandem that the Keeneland boycott should be considered a success, albeit a small one.


Written by Indulto | Comments (22)
On Letting Santa Anita Be Santa Anita

LOS ANGELES, January 15, 2018--The last major racetrack executive with the authority and desire to reduce takeout -- and actually succeeded -- was New York Racing Association board chairman, Barry Schwartz, in 2001.

The Stronach Group Chief Operating Officer, Tim Ritvo, appeared to have the same objective for Santa Anita, until he found his path blocked by an obstacle known as the Thoroughbred Owners of California with its Interstate Horseracing Act-enabled veto power.

Former NYRA and Hong Kong Jockey Club executive, Bill Nader, recently proposed lowering takeout by all major tracks, but collectively and cooperatively rather than independently:

"... There has been a steady shift from single-race to multi-race (horizontal) bet types such as Pick 3, 4, and 5, where the takeout is applied only one time and the payment to the industry (purses and tracks) is minimized as the wagering dollars can be tied up over multiple races.

“... Takeout reduction should be in the single-race (vertical) bet types, ... allow[ing] the betting dollar to turn over with greater frequency ... The key is … bringing greater liquidity and churn to the single-race pools through … lower takeout as it relates to field size.

“Win, place, show, and exacta wagering has to become more attractive. The major tracks can come together and agree, for example, that on field sizes of six or less, takeout on these bet types is 14%. Fields of seven and eight, takeout is 15%. Fields of nine or higher, takeout is 17%. ...

“The burden of taking this leap of faith … should not rest on one track. It needs to be a shared vision."


Ritvo may not share Nader’s view, considering that much of Gulfstream’s success is driven by its 20-cent-minimum Rainbow Pick 6, which also fuels additional wagers within the sequence of races.

But even if Ritvo shared Nader’s vision, the TOC presents a huge impediment that other horsemen’s groups in do not. The TOC apparently doesn’t believe in Ritvo’s concerns for Santa Anita’s continued survival as a racetrack after Frank Stronach leaves the scene.


Written by Indulto | Comments (20)

Through a Simo Saturday Notebook…

For obvious reasons, it was not a great weekend in South Florida, what with the events that transpired on Valentine’s Day at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

The 3,000 student campus is located about 40 minutes to the north and west of Gulfstream Park, where flags were flown at half-staff and where wall-to-wall and cover-to-cover reporting has dominated the media. Like mainstream media these days, for all the wrong reasons.

The racetrack community was fortunate, relieved to learn that in the aftermath of 17 murdered students, two of its own were spared. Senior Nicholas Vaccarezza and sophomore Michael Vaccarezza.

Vaccarezza the younger is better known to racetrackers and fans as Little Mike. The two pupils are the sons of Carlo and Priscilla Vaccarezza. Carlo, of course, is the South Florida-based trainer; Priscilla campaigned the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner a.k.a. Little Mike.

On Sunday, February 25, Carlo will close his restaurant, Frank & Dino’s, from mid-afternoon into the evening. The Boca Raton space will be opened to raise funds for the families affected by the senseless use of an assault rifle on promising young lives.

The public is invited. There is no charge for food and drink; just bring your checkbooks. For those not in the area wishing to help, the Marjory Stoneham Douglas Victims Fund has been established https://www.gofundme.com/stonemandouglasvictimsfund.

It is with profound humility and anger that we suggest the funds immediately be disbursed and shared among Washington legislators that they may become beholden to family victims of mass murder and all U.S. citizens, not the National Rifle Association.

DERBY STARS RISE AND FALL IN CHAOTIC GRADE 2 PREP


Actually, maybe there wasn’t enough chaos but more on the Risen Star results later. Suffice it to say that with the exception of the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra featuring a strong pace, the four remaining two-turn dirt races were won by the speed, all getting away with modest early fractions--seemingly a routine race shape in Fair Grounds routes.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (17)
Computer Batch Betting Enathema to Horseplaying Majority

Oaklawn Park race caller and veteran handicapping contest player, Vic Stauffer, tweeted this on Friday .from the National Handicapping Championship:

“OMG I’ve never said a word in 20 years about late odds changes. But this was INCREDIBLE. I switched to the #2 in the tournament ONLY because she was 7-1. INTO THE GATE. Went past the ¼ pole at 4-1. OMG. OMG. OMG.”

With all due respect, Vic, wish someone with your visibility had spoken out sooner. It happens every day, especially at major tracks with big pools. Mr Jicha and I disagree on many things, as the HRI Faithful knows, but we concur wholeheartedly on this one:

Last minute computer batch betting, coupled with rebates, is the biggest threat the racing industry faces because of the damage it does to bankrolls. For players, it’s bigger than takeout, bigger than drug cheats, bigger than anything to a horseplayer’s fiscal health.

Horsemen’s groups should join responsible industry journalists and a majority of customers fighting to save the remaining horse player/fan. Your purse accounts depend on it, of course. Players who have remained loyal already have begun curtailing their play.

Racing had better shake these doldrums. Useful to note contextually that handle has tanked by about 1/3 in the last decade, and has been flat the last five years. In business you either grow or die, and we’re not even thinking about the inflation quotient here.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (40)

Lessons to be learned from first half of Derby prep season

Kentucky Derby prep season turns a corner Saturday with the first 50-points to the winner race, the Risen Star. The early races have produced some promising new shooters but the big horses, Good Magic and Bolt d'Oro, are still ranked well above the rest in the opinion of the media and the betting public. But there are lessons to be learned from the early events that could prove profitable in the 17 remaining stops on the Derby trail.



Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (8)
Horse players rejoice! Your voices have been heard

The boycott of Keeneland that many said was a waste of time and effort has achieved its goal. Keeneland has caved and rolled back the takeout on WPS to pre-boycott levels for its spring meeting. Exactas also are returning to almost pre-fall meet levels. This is far more significant than victory over a single track. It sends a message to the entire industry that the days of horse players meekly accepting whatever is offered them are over. Elsewhere, a lot of Las Vegas sports books took a beating on Super Bowl Sunday. This should strike a cautionary note among those who thinks sports betting is the next panacea for race tracks.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (26)

A Win, However Small, Is Still a Win

Several players I know and respect online and on social media categorized the recently announced takeout reduction for the upcoming Keeneland spring meet as a Pyrrhic victory.

While the notion has some validity given the sliding scale reductions, the assessment above is unfair.

The rollback, however partial, was a positive response to a call for action or, more precisely, betting inaction at the Keeneland 2017 fall meet.

Keeneland noticed that they went down while every other major venue increased, in part no doubt from handle that would have been ordained for Keeneland but found itself elsewhere.

In the final analysis, horseplayers made progress on a policy and price disagreement with track management. How often does that happen? We’re nowhere close to being sick of winning yet but walking before running is a good start on the road to relationships.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (16)
The More Things Change…

An old colleague sent this to me yesterday, courtesy of Pro Quest. He thought of this column because, had he lived, February 5th would have been Oscar Barrera's 90th birthday.

I guess, sadly, he thought it might still have some relevance in the modern game. Anyway...


April 7, 1991--With apologies to Woody Stephens, Darrell Wayne Lukas and Shug McGaughey, the late Oscar Sosa Barrera was the most influential trainer in New York during the last decade.

The death certificate will read that Barrera died late Thursday night of congestive cardiac failure and pulmonary distress.

But the real cause of death might have been a broken spirit, such was Barrera's abject failure in the past few years, in which his free-fall descent from atop the trainer's standings was as inexplicable as his meteoric rise.



Written by John Pricci | Comments (6)



 


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, |
ARCI TO CALL FOR REGULATION OF BREEDING AND SALES.

DRUG MONEY LAUNDERING AND EQUINE WELFARE CONCERNS PROMPT ARCI TO CALL FOR REGULATION OF BREEDING AND SALES.

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, |
SANTA ANITA STABLE NOTES - OCTOBER 28, 2017

AUTUMN MISS MILE SUITABLE FOR MISS SOUTHERN MISS
• COLLECTED AND STELLAR WIND HEADLINE BC BREEZERS
• RACING REMEMBERS BELOVED BEVERLY J. LEWIS
• CARMA HOSTS AFTERCARE AWARENESS DAY ON SUNDAY

MISS SOUTHERN MISS RETURNS TO MILE IN AUTUMN MISS


Oct 29 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, |
RACING RETURNS TO CHURCHILL DOWNS SUNDAY AT 1 P.M.

21-DAY FALL MEET

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, |