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

Churchill and Keeneland, RIvals No More

Money, money, money, money…money.

As it turns out, when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of the people in the Commonwealth and the perception of leadership both real and imagined, long-time rivals Churchill Downs and Keeneland are willing to put bragging rights aside when it comes to scooping up every betting dollar within its borders by opening two satellite tracks in the Kentucky hinterlands.

Not only would the proposed joint venture add to their respective bottom lines, but it has the added benefit of sticking a dagger into the hearts of both Ellis Park and Kentucky Downs, especially the latter, whose popularity with bettors went through the roof with its recently concluded record-setting boutique meet.

In America, everyone has a right to make a living and Churchill Downs Inc. has a mandated responsibility to grow its revenue as a publicly traded company. Keeneland, meanwhile, for which no one has ever suggested an interest in creating a fund-me page, is pulling out all stops mainly because it can.

And if sticking a knife into the heart of Kentucky Downs, which has basked in the national spotlight this month with its highly popular five-day session of unique turf racing and fan-friendly tax rates, that’s an added bonus.

Now we know the real reason for the outrageous takeout increase slated to begin at the Keeneland Fall meet: A homogeneous, maxed-out, tax-on-horseplayer-winnings that not only puts it in line with what CDI charges but sets the same high-rate table it would charge at the new facilities.

To paraphrase Bukowski, “dividends for all my friends!”


Written by John Pricci | Comments (20)
Saratoga Diary Prep: Spa Off to Blazing Start

Dear Diary,

I know you’re anxious to celebrate your 40th anniversary—yes, since 1977—but it can’t be a real diary unless you’re there. I will be, but first some matters on the home front that need my attention.

So, let’s call this the inaugural Simulcast Edition of Saratoga Diary, and that’s a good thing, too. No distractions like dinner plans, cocktails, visiting with old friends, favorite places. What remains is what happened between the fences.

I might not have been there but over 64,000 people were the first two days of Saratoga-148. Those are wow numbers, or as TJ was saying in the Gulfstream press box about Friday’s opening; that’s almost Travers-like.

Unlike Del Mar’s disappointing start, Saratoga opened on a roll with all-sources handle up 14% to $20.3 million on opening day. Saturday’s numbers were just as strong: $24.9 million from all sources.

Off the top, the headlines are: What’s with the main-track surface? Consecutive-years fast start for Kiaran McLaughlin. The Ortiz Brothers Show. And wait, there’s more:

Chad Brown, Bobblehead of Renown with a Saturday trifecta. Slow starts for Hall of Famers, Javier and Johnny V. The Greatness of Lady Eli. And what’s up with the Todd Two-Year-Olds?

FRIDAY JUL 21: Opening Day. It was clear from the jump, the “And They’re Off at Saratoga” for mid-level claimers, that the amount of kickback on the first turn was extraordinary. Can you say cuppy track?


Written by John Pricci | Comments (10)

QUESTION to INDUSTRY: Why Should One Bet Be Taxed More Heavily Than Another?

The average takeout for straight bets is a little more than 17 percent. For exotics, it's more than 22 percent. How does this make sense? Why should the more difficult to hit bets be taxed more for the attempt? The answer is typical: This is the way it always has been done. Another argument is this pushes people into easier to hit pools. This is outrageous paternalism: We know what's better for you than you do. A dirty little secret is the heavily taxed exotics subsidize the rebates to the computer guys, who aren't even real horse players.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (71)
When is something going to be done about ‘The Juice Man’?

Jorge Navarro has accomplished some amazing feats this summer at Monmouth. A video available, which has gone viral, suggests more than good horsemanship might be involved. One of his owners, who has won with eight of 12 recent starters, is seen shouting at a racetrack monitor as one of his horses gets home, 'The Juice Man. We f—k everyone and I line my pockets.' If this doesn't call for a thorough investigation into Navarro's methods, it's hard to imagine what might.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (26)

The 15-30 Takeout Solution

If the clown in the White House can a make a deal with ineffectual Congressional Democrats, then surely racing’s stakeholders can compromise and find a solution to the parimutuel takeout problem.

The problem of course is that it’s too high. It’s just one of several issues why lifetime horseplayers are walking away from the game, and racing can ill-afford to lose any more old-schoolers who choose to walk away.

Takeout might not be right on the top of the list but it’s the kind of problem that’s fixable. Cost-cutting is never a bad thing; it’s promotable, gambling-centric and a way to lure young adults who prefer to mix some critical thinking with their gambling.

If do-able, a deal that helps all of racing’s stakeholders--from horseplayers of every stripe, to racetracks, to horsemen—is one that makes sense and long overdue.

This industry is one that does not work collectively because at once there as many agenda as there are racing jurisdictions. Lowering takeout won’t fix the drug problem or equine and human safety concerns but its good business.

Just as climate deniers are famously not scientists, I’m no mathematician. I leave that to better analytical minds than mine. So if someone wants to tweak the numbers that follow so that they make more sense and dollars, please have at it.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (89)
Fifty Years Later, No Rabbit Redux in This Woodward

How ironic is it that on the golden anniversary of one of the greatest rivalries in Thoroughbred racing history, the New York stewards wouldn’t allow Ron Paolucci to do what it allowed Mrs. Edith W. Bancroft to do 50 years ago in the storied Woodward Stakes?

Mrs. Bancroft, of course, the breeder and owner of Hall of Fame champion Damascus, is the daughter of William Woodward Sr., the scion of Belair Stud, whose white silks with red polka dots graced the Belmont Stakes winners’ circle five times in the 1930s. The Woodward Stakes that bears his name has been run since 1954.

A notable aside: Mrs. Bancroft was also the breeder and owner of a swift stakes sprinter by the name of Hedevar which, thanks to the 1967 renewal of this storied race, arguably became the most celebrated “rabbit” in Thoroughbred history. Her son, Thomas W. Bancroft Jr., later became Chairman of the NYRA Board of Directors.

Hedevar’s mission, of course, was to sap the reserves of the great Dr. Fager, whose great speed gave him a tactical advantage over his arch rival. But his presence in the Woodward of 50 years ago just as well could have aided Buckpasser’s late surge but, as history shows, was no match for that of Damascus.

However, it appears that today’s stewards are now in the handicapping business and can predict exactly what will happen in a horse race, and they can, “in racing’s best interests,” help predetermine an outcome by preventing an owner in good standing from spending his money in a way that is within the rules and regarded as a time honored racing tactic.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (14)

Are You Really Willing to Fight for Greater Integrity?

Attempts to organize horseplayers to collectively address issues that affect them adversely have seldom attracted sufficient support to achieve the desired result.

Although boycotts by players in response to takeout increases at Santa Anita in 2010, and at Churchill Downs in 2014, succeeded in lowering handle for those meets, the amount was not sufficient to substantially decrease short-term revenue from takeout, and the rates were never rolled back.

Yet another boycott is now being organized by the usual suspects, i.e., the HANA leadership, in response to Keeneland’s announced takeout hike effective next month.

I doubt the result will be any different this time around unless 1) The takeout issue is expanded beyond just rolling back rates to reforming takeout distribution and 2) The need for takeout reform is viewed as only one component of a larger integrity issue that would become the central justification for the planned protest.


Written by Indulto | Comments (21)
Horseplayers Need Leadership and a New Beginning; Possible Keeneland Boycott Gaining Momentum

Los Angeles, CA, August 19, 2017--Just when horseplayers thought takeout relief at a major racing venue was a real possibility following encouraging remarks by Tim Ritvo regarding Santa Anita’s future viability, Keeneland shed its former horseplayer-friendly mantle by announcing substantial increases to takeout rates for its upcoming fall meet.

Last November, U.S. voters voiced their dissatisfaction with the political status quo and used their collective strength to demand a change in course. Whether or not the proposed new course is the best one is not the issue here but at least now politicians recognize that the electorate can no longer be taken for granted.

Well, a similar lesson needs to be learned by racing’s empowered stakeholders. Not all regulators, horsemen’s groups and track operators have demonstrated the same disdain and disrespect for racing’s customers but those that have are doing so with impunity.



Written by Indulto | Comments (66)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
NTRA STATEMENT ON PASSING OF PENNY CHENERY

"Whether as the owner of Secretariat, the brilliant Triple Crown Champion she campaigned nearly a half-century ago, or as a leader and ambassador for the sport she loved, Penny Chenery led an extraordinary life that touched Thoroughbred racing fans and others in a unique and personal way. Thankfully,…


Sep 18 | Categories: Horse Racing, |
Chublicious Makes the Grade in $250,000 De Francis Dash (G3)

Sprint Tops Seven Stakes Worth $900,000 on Fall Festival of Racing Program
LAUREL, MD – David Gruskos’ multiple stakes winner Chublicious, dismissed as the longest shot in the four-horse field, collared stubborn front-runner Blue Moon Ace in mid-stretch and emerged from their duel to the wire…


Sep 18 | Categories: Laurel, |
Gulfstream News & Notes: Fri 9/15/2017

Surprise Wedding Favored for Turf Debut in Miss Gracie
Mama Joyce Seeks Repeat in $50,000 Sea of Grass Handicap
Saturday’s 11-Races Draw 113 Horses
Gaffalione Road Show Makes Stop at Laurel Saturday


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – A half-sister to the Sept.…


Sep 15 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Laurel Park News & Notes

G3 Winner Mr. Jordan ‘50-50’ for $250,000 De Francis Dash (G3)
Karamanos Replaces Injured Carrasco on Chublicious for De Francis
Gaffalione Road Show Makes Stop at Laurel Park Saturday


LAUREL, MD
– David Melin, Leon Ellman and Laurie Plesa’s multiple…


Sep 15 | Categories: Laurel, |
Laurel: Fall Festival of Racing

Fall Festival of Racing an Exciting Time for Laurel Park and Bettors

Graded Races, Full Turf Fields, Events Every Weekend

LAUREL, MD - Saturday’s Fall Festival of Racing, featuring the $250,000 De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) and six other stakes, is just…


Sep 15 | Categories: Laurel, |
Gulfstream Park Taking 2017-2018 Championship Meet to New Level

$16 Million Pegasus World Cup (G1) Tops $28.6 Million Stakes Schedule
Top Classic Prep $1 Million Florida Derby to be Run Saturday, March 31
Meet Opens Saturday, Dec. 2 with $1.1 Million Claiming Crown
Clasico del Caribe Makes North American Debut Saturday, Dec. 9
$350,000…


Sep 15 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Laurel: Successful Stablemates Set to Clash in $100,000 Laurel Dash

Ginger N Rye Looks to Extend Streak in $100,000 Sensible Lady Turf Dash
Two of Six Grass Stakes on Tap for Saturday’s Fall Festival of Racing

LAUREL, MD – Stablemates Amelia’s Wild Ride and Class and Cash, with 21 wins and nearly $850,000 in purse earnings between…


Sep 15 | Categories: Laurel, |
NYRA announces Belmont-Woodbine Pick 5 for Saturday

Belmont Park Live to cover Grade 2 Sands Point from Belmont Park, G1 Northern Dancer and G2 Canadian from Woodbine

ELMONT, N.Y. - The New York Racing Association, Inc. announced today a Belmont-Woodbine Pick 5 wager for Woodbine Mile Day this Saturday, September 16.



Sep 15 | Categories: Belmont Park, |
RECORD-PURSUING ROMANS TO MEET WITH MEDIA

South Louisville native Dale Romans, who is on the verge of surpassing Hall of Famer Bill Mott as the all-time leading trainer in races won at Churchill Downs, will meet with members of the media at his Barn on Thursday. Friday is Opening Day of Churchill Downs’ 11-day September Meet, and Romans trails…


Sep 14 | Categories: Churchill Downs, |
Saturday, Sunday Cards Drawn for Return of Live Racing at Gulfstream

Back in Action with Full Fields: 134 Entries Saturday, 105 Entries Sunday
Saturday Post Time: 12:15 p.m.; Sunday Post Time: 12:45 p.m.
$100,000 Miss Gracie Stakes Headlines Saturday’s 13-Race Program
$50,000 Tamiami, $50,000 Perfect Season Highlight Sunday’s 12-Race Card



Sep 14 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Gulfstream’s Properties Back on Track

Horses Return to Training, Facility Prepares for Saturday Racing, Wednesday Simulcasting
Poker, Casino Open; Shops Opening in Village

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Just two days after Hurricane Irma left her mark on South Florida, Gulfstream Park, The Village at Gulfstream…


Sep 12 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Gulfstream to Resume Live Racing Saturday

Facility Open for Simulcasting Wednesday
Horses, People All Safe in Wake of Hurricane Irma

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Gulfstream Park announced Monday it would resume live racing Saturday, Sept. 16, and that its facility would be open for simulcasting Wednesday.


Sep 11 | Categories: Gulfstream, |