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'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

A couple of key plays to work around on Friday & Saturday

Everyone has their own approach to attacking the Breeders' Cup. Mine is not to go caveman but to try to find a key horse or two in one race, then spread widely in the other legs of Pick 3's, which tend to pay handsomely even with a short price or two in the sequence. Goldencents looks like the most certain winner of the two days and is positioned between wide open races on Friday. The scratch of American Pharoah from the Juvenile makes Carpe Diem a key on Saturday.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (4)
A throwback to my previous life

What do racing fans do when they're not handicapping or betting? Probably 99% watch television. It's a slow week in racing, awaiting the Breeders' Cup pre-entries, so I'm going to digress one time only and go back to my previous life as a TV critic.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (8)

On Breeders’ Cup Eve, Horseplayers Continue Their Advocacy

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., October 26, 2014---Set against a backdrop of horsemen signing entry cards for a run in Breeders’ Cup XXXI beginning Friday, close to 500 stakeholders have signed a petition asking that security cameras be installed in all barns on the Santa Anita backstretch.

After being unable to get any satisfaction with that state’s alphabet groups, most significantly the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the TOc, grassroots horseplayer activists in California took matters into their own hands.

It may be too late for this year's Breeders’ Cup but not so for the prime winter meet the day after Christmas. If all tracks don’t take reasonable measure to shore up their security, no executive ever should be allowed to use the word transparency again.

Not onsite for the Breeders’ Cup this year, I’m not privy to the current politics of the situation but the issue is simple and universal enough. It’s all about the level playing field, about customer’s betting money, the coin of the realm that gives lifeblood to this thing of ours.

As a rule, it’s difficult to spur horseplayers into action, but since the advent of the Horseplayers Association of North America and activists such as Andy Asaro, who continues to act as Prodder-in-Chief to hundreds of industry stakeholders daily, horseplayers finally are playing a role: See Santa Anita in 2012; see Churchill Downs in 2013.

Thanks to these volunteers, the voice of horseplayers has created within the betting community a spirit of cooperation for the health of the game, one that offers a front that’s more united than the sum of all of industry alphabet groups combined.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (4)
No Triumph This Time, Only Tragedy

MIAMI LAKES, October 17, 2014—Call it the Robin Williams syndrome, anything that properly reflects tragedy that goes beyond the pale.

Death almost always begets sadness but this was something more, perhaps a replication of how one feels when a special one passes. Even from a great distance, Juan Saez seemed to possess the kind or rare talent that belied his tender age.

Sometimes, death can be a blessing for those that suffer from disease, but I’ve always wondered if that was true. How would I feel about letting go if given the choice between doing just that or carrying on?

There was nothing about the death of the 17-year-old Saez that had any saving grace whatsoever: In death’s wake, shocking and profoundly sad are the only apt descriptions.

I never met the young man nor did I have the opportunity to see the teenage phenom in the flesh; only on horseback, on a closed-circuit monitor. His productivity demanded that you sought him out wherever he chose to hang his tack.

I finally caught up to his all too brief meteoric career while he was riding in Kentucky this Fall. His passing came with an ever-present reminder that jockeys are the least appreciated athletes of all.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)

123Gaming’s Robert Earle: Born to Bet

PLANTATION, FL., October 24, 2014—This time, even if I decided that I badly wanted to hurl slings and arrows at the racing industry for the snail-like pace at which it’s proven willing to accept new ideas, I couldn’t: This time, it was my bad.

Here I had this new wagering idea staring me in the face, something novel, something that possibly could stir the imagination of young people with discretionary income looking for an exciting way to occupy their time.

It was right in front of me and I didn’t see it, couldn’t conjure up how a new interpretation of a well-known wager could spark growth by servicing an untapped resource, the demographic that is the envy of every successful business; the young adult.

I’m talking about a different kind of Pick 6, a variation on the theme, one that puts rank and file bettors up front by keeping them in the sequence right to the bitter end, no matter how much or how little they invest.

The rules governing the “123 Pick Six” make a very difficult wager less daunting. Of greater import, by making the wager more accessible, it becomes an Everyman Pick Six, putting average bettors on the same playing field with well-financed individuals and syndicates.

The man behind the 123 Pick Six is Robert Earle, unknown to me at the time but the same man I saw instructing panel members and attendees in 2009 at the Thoroughbred Racing Association’s Simulcast Conference in Saratoga Springs.

He believed then and continues to believe now that he can get more people involved in the Thoroughbred racing by wagering on it.

Betting on racehorses; what a concept!

Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)
Seven Sophomores for Seven Elders

PLANTATION, FL., October 22, 2014—Considering the effect that the event has had on traditional Fall calendar of major stakes races, the Breeders’ Cup championships has come under closer scrutiny this year.

Prior to the advent of the event 30 years ago, races such as Belmont Park’s Jockey Club Gold Cup, Champagne and Frizette--to name just three noted Eastern-based fixtures-- would have been the conquests that would have helped define championships.

Races like these still help to decide which horses are worthy of best-in-show honors in their respective divisions, but since 1984 they no longer are the final word.

Presently, thanks to the vision of John Gaines and John Nerud, a little re-branding from Breeders’ Cup Ltd. and the growth of international racing, Thoroughbred’s crowning event continues to grow in stature and appeal.

Despite carding two less races and absent three injured champions that were expected to defend their titles, a record 201 horses, 61 Grade or Group 1 winners, including five in defense of their titles, were pre-entered Wednesday in Breeders’ Cup XXXI.

Final entries will be drawn Monday with 13 races scheduled for next Friday and Saturday; four on Friday and nine on championship Saturday.

The centerpiece Classic, expected to crown the 2014 Horse of the Year, will be broadcast in prime time Saturday on the NBC network starting at 8 p.m. ET.

All remaining races will be cablecast on the NBC Sports Network over the two-day span, and the HRTV racing network will broadcast every Breeders’ Cup race. As they say in TV land, check local times and listings.

Dubbed racing’s crowning event, this year’s Classic is appropriately named. What happens at 8:35 p.m. ET Saturday will determine not only three-year-old championship honors but a Horse of the Year title as well.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (4)

Gingras looks at Fall Four Stakes

By Ken Weingartner
Harness Racing Communications/USTA

After guiding Lyons Again to his first career win in his Governor’s Cup elimination at Woodbine last weekend, driver Yannick Gingras believes it is just the start for the 2-year-old male pacer.

Gingras arrived at Woodbine last Friday and Saturday with plenty of firepower for the Fall Four Stakes for 2-year-old pacers and trotters, and it all fired. He drove horses in all eight Fall Four eliminations, posting five wins, two second-place finishes and one fourth.

In addition to winning with Lyons Again, Gingras picked up victories in both eliminations for the Goldsmith Maid, with female trotters Mission Brief and Gatka Hanover, a win in the Three Diamonds with female pacer JK She’salady, and a triumph in the Valley Victory with male trotter Habitat.

He finished second with Three Diamonds contender Band Of Angels and runner-up with Governor’s Cup hopeful Blood Brother. His fourth-place finish was with Pinkman in the Valley Victory elims.

The Fall Four Stakes finals, worth a total of nearly C$2 million, are Saturday at Woodbine.

Lyons Again was the longest shot driven by Gingras, at 14-1, but his Governor’s Cup elimination win from post nine by three-quarters of a length over Traceur Hanover in 1:52.4 was not a complete surprise.

“He was a longshot for everybody (else) but I’ve really, really liked this colt,” Gingras said. “He’s really been a bridesmaid, always finishing second or third, but he ran into a really sharp horse in Artspeak early in the year. There’s no shame in finishing second to him, as sharp as he was.”

A son of Dragon Again-A Filly To Fear owned by Geoffrey Lyons Mound, Lyons Again has one win, four seconds and two thirds in eight starts. Three times he hit the board in races won by Artspeak, with two runner-up finishes, and once he finished second to Yankee Bounty. Artspeak and Yankee Bounty are harness racing’s two richest 2-year-old male pacers and have combined to win 15 of 18 races.

Lyons Again, who finished third in the Metro Pace and has earned $161,687 this year, was not eligible to the Grand Circuit races at The Red Mile in Lexington, so the colt enjoyed a six-week layoff following his second-place finish in a division of the Champlain Stakes on Sept. 6 at Mohawk.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)
Ron Burke Keeps Breaking Earnings Records

By Ken Weingartner

With the record for purses in the bank and 11 weeks remaining on the calendar, trainer Ron Burke is now left to contemplate how much his stable can increase its earnings before the end of the year.

Burke, who in 2013 became the first trainer to eclipse $20 million in a season -- finishing the campaign with $22.23 million, moved $9,333 beyond that figure this year thanks to earning $11,750 at Yonkers Raceway on Monday night. His stable broke last year’s mark when pacer Rockstar Temper won the sixth race.

“It’s neat because coming into this year I thought we might not be able to reach that,” Burke said. “Now to reach it this early, you wonder how far you can go. The next mark is 25 (million dollars). There’s not a ton of stakes races left, but there’s enough that if we can put together a run, maybe we could do 25.”

Last year, Burke’s horses won 25 races worth at least $100,000. This season, the “Burke Brigade” has captured 38 races worth at least $100,000. Among those victories were 3-year-old pacer JK Endofanera in the North America Cup, 5-year-old pacer Sweet Lou in the Ben Franklin Pace and William R. Haughton Memorial, 3-year-old pacer Limelight Beach in the Little Brown Jug, and 2-year-old trotter Mission Brief in the Merrie Annabelle.

He also won four New York Sire Stakes championships, plus two sire stakes crowns each in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and one in New Jersey.

Written by HRI Publisher | Comments (0)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Turf Sprint and Dirt Mile - Wed. notes

Bob Baffert (Fed Biz, Dirt Mile) – Fed Biz galloped 1 1/2m Wednesday morning.

“He's training well and he's run well here,” Baffert said. “I liked the way he ran on the dirt last time (second to Shared Belief in the 1 1/16-mile Awesome Again). He put up a pretty good fight against…

Oct 30 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, | Comments (0)
2-Year-Old Races Report

Aidan O'Brien (The Great War, Juvenile; War Envoy, Juvenile Turf; Qualify, Juvenile Fillies Turf) – see European report

Bob Baffert (One Lucky Dane, Juvenile) – The withdrawal of favored American Pharoah on Tuesday due to a foot bruise, leaves One Lucky Dane as the lone hope for the…

Oct 30 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, | Comments (0)
Sprint and FM Sprint Wed. Notes

Alfredo Velasquez (Private Zone, Sprint) – Good Friends Stable’s Private Zone remained on schedule for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint for trainer Alfredo Velazquez Wednesday morning.

“He galloped about a mile and a half today nice and easy,” Velazquez said. “He feels and looks great.…

Oct 30 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, | Comments (0)
Breeders’ Cup Mile - Wed. notes

Anodin – see European report

Kaigun – Trainer Mark Casse said that gelding Mile contender Kaigun has helped the Canadian-bred son of Northern Afleet jump up from the optional claiming ranks into a Graded stakes winner this year.

Oct 29 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, | Comments (0)
Filly & Mare Turf - Wed. notes

Abaco – Phipps Stable’s Abaco galloped 1m at Santa Anita Wednesday morning in preparation for a start in Saturday’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, which is likely to be the final start of the 6yo mare’s career.

The stretch-running Abaco, though, has shown no signs…

Oct 29 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, | Comments (0)
Longines Turf - wed. notes

Big John B – Big John B galloped 2m on the training track Wednesday morning, keeping to the usual schedule on the approach of a race, especially as big a one as the $3 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf, trainer Phil D’Amato said.

“This horse, the longer the better for him,” D’Amato…

Oct 29 | Categories: | Comments (0)
Breeders’ Cup Distaff - Wed. notes

Belle Gallantey – Trainer Rudy Rodriguez maintained his enthusiasm about Beldame Stakes and Delaware Handicap winner Belle Gallantey’s chances in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff after her routine training Wednesday morning. The daughter of After Market went through a routine gallop around Santa…

Oct 29 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, | Comments (0)
Breeders’ Cup - European Report


Toast of New York – Jamie Osborne’s challenger for the Breeders’ Cup Classic once again stretched his legs out on the main track Wednesday morning under regular work rider James McCarthy. The 3yo was on his toes as soon as he got on the track but McCarthy soon had him settled…

Oct 29 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, | Comments (0)
Breeders’ Cup Classic - Wed. notes

Bayern – Bayern galloped 1 1/2 m on the training track Wednesday morning. A victory in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic would be a happy ending to a Breeders’ Cup week that has not started well for the Bob Baffert stable with its contingent having dropped from eight to six, most recently with…

Oct 29 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, | Comments (0)
Champion Magician Declared Out; Free as a Bird Withdrawn

Arcadia, Calif. – Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s 4yo Magician, last year’s winner of the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf, will not be able to defend his crown in the 1 1/2m test as he has been declared out of Saturday’s renewal because of lameness.

Oct 29 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, | Comments (0)
Breeders’ Cup Distaff - Tuesday notes

Belle Gallantey – The 5yo New York-based mare has adapted well to her new Santa Anita surroundings, according to trainer Rudy Rodriguez. The chestnut mare arrived Sunday around 3 p.m., and jogged Monday. Tuesday morning she galloped a mile and a half.

“She really shipped good and is…

Oct 28 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, | Comments (0)
Breeders’ Cup - European Report


Toast of New York – Toast of New York took everything in his stride when he gained his first experience of the main track Tuesday morning when doing a hack canter of a couple of circuits under the guidance of James McCarthy.

“He was really good today and I was really…

Oct 28 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, | Comments (0)