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

It’s not fair: East has big races but titles are won in California


Shared Belief once again demonstrated the potential to become one of the most exciting horses in years with a dominant score in the Los Alamitos Derby. If he runs the table in the Pacific Classic and Breeders' Cup Classic, he could not only grab the 3-year-old title from California Chrome but also capture Horse of the Year. He could do all this without ever leaving California. That isn't right.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (8)
Gulfstream Control Good for Florida Racing; Elsewhere Adios Synthetics

The long pending agreement that turns over control of South Florida racing to Gulfstream and The Stronach Group is a good thing for racing because it gets Churchill Downs Inc. out of an important racing state. The downside is CDI is being rewarded by being allowed to keep it's casino after running racing into the ground.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (16)

For JK the Beginningofanera

By Ken Weingartner

Alan Katz was hesitant to go to Ontario for the North America Cup last month, but he is glad he made the trip. It is unlikely he will have any similar reservations about crossing the Hudson River from New York and heading to Saturday’s Meadowlands Pace.

Katz and his brothers, Ron and Steve, bred and own JK Endofanera, who is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-old pacers at Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey. The colt won his Pace elimination by a neck over Always B Miki in 1:48.2 last weekend and will start the final from post two with Brian Sears driving for trainer Ron Burke.

In his previous start, June 14, JK Endofanera won the $920,000 North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario. He will try to become the 10th horse in harness racing history to win both the North America Cup and Meadowlands Pace.

The Meadowlands Pace and $463,300 William R. Haughton Memorial for older pacers will be shown live on CBS Sports Network beginning at 9 p.m. Saturday. The card also includes the $317,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial, $213,500 Delvin Miller Memorial, $212,150 Mistletoe Shalee, $178,450 Golden Girls, and a $40,000 leg of the Miss Versatility Series.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)
Meadowlands Pace: Game On

By Ken Weingartner

Dave Menary might have been concerned when He’s Watching lost for the first time in his career earlier this season, but the setback was something of a blessing for the 35-year-old trainer.

“When you’re undefeated and you’re trying to stay undefeated, it’s a lot of pressure,” Menary said. “Since he got beat I’ve had a lot more fun.”

Of course, winning again factors into that fun, and Menary hopes it continues in Saturday’s $776,000 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-old pacers at the Meadowlands Racetrack. He’s Watching won his Pace elim by 2-3/4 lengths over Sometimes Said in 1:48.1 last weekend.

He’s Watching, who will start the Pace final from post three with driver Tim Tetrick, is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. North America Cup winner JK Endofanera, who captured his Pace elim in 1:48.2, is the 2-1 favorite. He will start from post two with driver Brian Sears at the lines for trainer Ron Burke.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)

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)
For July 4th Horseplayers, It’s Morning in America

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, July 3, 2014—The second half of the racing season began this past Tuesday and we’re preferring to see what remains of 2014 as a glass that is half full despite racing’s myriad problems.

All know what those negatives are: Permissive medication, coupled with the reality wrought be negative perception; a continued lack of transparency on several important fronts, and of alphabet horsemen’s groups that still expect the customer to pay for everything from a higher tax on wagers to improved testing protocols.

Despite all that, there are a number of positive takeaways that will be our focus, the hope that positive storylines continue moving the game forward while it continues to work out its problems in a meaningful way.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (10)

Tom Durkin: Often Imitated, Never Duplicated

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, June 22, 2014---Allegiance to present day race callers very often is a matter of taste, like appreciating a fine wine, a movie, favorite athlete, etc., etc.

Consequently, it follows that provincialism plays a huge role in formulating those preferences, just as one would for a favorite horse or jockey: Seabiscuit or War Admiral; Shoemaker or Arcaro; Zenyatta or Rachel Alexandra?

And, so, when it comes to con the world of contemporary race callers, the majority of racing fans are aligned in two camps: Denman or Durkin?

Personally, it’s impossible for me to remain neutral. I, like so many others who have crossed paths with Tom Durkin during his 43-year career, consider him a cherished friend.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t strive for objectivity.

I have not listened to Denman’s calls nearly as many times as I’ve heard Durkin’s. But I can’t imagine, even if the coasts were reversed, I would remember as many of Trevor's calls as I would Tom’s.

Twenty-four Breeders’ Cups and 11 Triple Crowns has given Durkin far more opportunities to voice racing’s most memorable events, and he has had more than his share of “moving like a tremendous machine” moments:

There was Easy Goer and Sunday Silence “in a racing epic,” the Real Quiet-Victory Gallop Belmont photo: “a picture is worth a thousand words, this photo is worth five million dollars; history... in the waiting.”

And, of course, Smarty Jones’ crushing Triple Crown bid, marked by Durkin’s diminishing crescendo as he informed 120,000 fans “Birdstone wins the Belmont Stakes.”


Written by John Pricci | Comments (16)
The Case for a Lower Case triple crown

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, June 18, 2014—I was happy to see the other day that Steve Haskin of the Bloodhorse suggested that the Triple Crown for Fillies—oops, make that lower case triple crown, insisted the late, great Joe Hirsch—for Fillies be revived.

Perhaps this is an idea whose time has come. Again.

Now before anyone says it won’t have a smidgeon of the impact that the Upper Case version does, we are already aware. But that’s not the point, nor should it be.

This triad would be for thoroughbred racing fans that will care, and each race of the series could a possible anchor leg of an All-Stakes Pick 4, even if the events are overnighters with a purse of $100,000. Hopefully, it would get more support than that.

One of my fondest memories was of Mom’s Command winning the mile and a half Coaching Club American Oaks after having taken the Acorn and Mother Goose previously.

Even though she dominated her generation, not many believed she would go that far, but her class prevailed.

It was a real family affair as the Hall of Fame filly was owned by Peter Fuller and ridden by his daughter, Abigail. Fuller was a driving force behind the creation of a racing circuit in New England, once a hot-bed of thoroughbred racing and still home to passionate fans and horseplayers.

Then, of course, there was the great Davona Dale, another Hall of Famer that was so good she won two filly triple crowns, the older traditional version run at Churchill, Pimlico and Belmont, and the same NYRA version won by Mom’s Command.

If there were one this year, it might have caught on nationally what with Kentucky Oaks winning Untapable reaching second in the NTRA three-year-old poll, now third behind Belmont Stakes winning Tonalist.

Many believe her to be the most talented sophomore in America. If not, she certainly has run her way into the conversation.

If a filly triple crown were to be resurrected, wouldn’t a national version with sensible spacing, preferably at the Upper Case tracks, be that be something worth seeing?

But why stop there? Why not a three race series for all divisions?


Written by John Pricci | Comments (1)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
DELPARK NEWS & NOTES - LOCAL HORSE COMES HOME POINTS FOR DELCAP

Princess of Sylmar coming home to run at Delaware Park in Delaware Handicap

Wilmington, Del., July 6, 2014 — She was born less than 30 miles from Delaware Park. An approximate 45 minute drive, first on route 7 (Limestone Road) and then route 41 (Lancaster Pike), into Pennsylvania pass…


Jul 7 | Categories: Delaware Park, | Comments (0)
Lynbrook (NYB) Quotes

Leah Gyarmati, winning trainer of Wonder Gal (No. 6): "There haven't been many maiden races for New York-bred fillies. We hope she lives up to our expectations. She's young, still. She's big, but she's still young. You have to keep that in mind. There are bound to be some bumps along the way."



Jul 7 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) Quotes

Chad Brown, winning trainer of Minorette (No. 9): "[Jockey] Joel [Rosario] got to know her a bit. She was really training big coming into this race. We were pretty confident she'd give a good showing of herself in here."




Jul 6 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Suburban Handicap (G2) Quotes

Chad Brown, winning trainer of Zivo (No. 3) and ninth place finisher Last Gunfighter (No. 5): "Jose rode [Zivo] perfectly. We've always put him in races we think fit him. This horse has really come around well and it was time to step out of New York-bred company and try him in an open company race with…


Jul 6 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) Quotes

Shug McGaughey, winning trainer of Mr Speaker (No. 9): "He definitely redeemed himself; his last race was very disappointing. He trained well coming up to today and we changed our game plan; I wanted him back. Jose [Lezcano] rode a great race on him. We're tickled that Martin [Panza] carded this race…


Jul 6 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Belmont Sprint Championship (G3) Quotes

Brian Lynch, winning trainer of Clearly Now (No. 3): "When he broke a little slow I thought, 'Oh boy, here we go again,' but when he cruised up on the inside near the 4 ½ pole I could tell Jose [Lezcano] had a lot of horse. He had a legitimate pace in front of him, so it was just about finding a hole,…


Jul 6 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Dwyer (G3) Quotes

Linda Rice, winning trainer of Kid Cruz (No. 1): "I was a little nervous about whether they were going to go fast enough today. Irad [Ortiz] made a strong effort from the gate to make sure he got engaged earlier, so we just didn't hand it over to a slow pace. He did a beautiful job. The horse seems to…


Jul 6 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Toast of New York appropriately headlines inaugural Belmont Derby

ELMONT, N.Y. - Toast of New York will look to become just that when he attempts to win the first running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Belmont Derby on Saturday at Belmont Park.

The 1 ¼-mile Belmont Derby is the centerpiece of the newly fashioned Stars & Stripes Day, which also features…


Jul 2 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Belmont Oaks

Flying Jib part of tough European contingent in G1 Belmont Oaks; Room Service one of several carrying American flag

ELMONT, N.Y. - The inaugural running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational attracted a diverse cast of 3-year-old fillies who will be traveling 1 ¼ miles over…


Jul 2 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Calder Statement Regarding The Stronach Group Agreement

Calder President and General Manager Maureen Adams:

“We would like to thank the horsemen, the breeders, the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, and The Stronach Group for their cooperation in finalizing an agreement which is in the best interest of South Florida Racing. Today, we received…


Jul 2 | Categories: Calder, | Comments (0)
STATEMENT FROM GULFSTREAM PRESIDENT TIM RITVO ON CALDER AGREEMENT

"Gulfstream Park started a journey more than two years ago to create a more vibrant Thoroughbred industry in Florida. Having enjoyed year-over-year growth the past three years, we wanted to continue the momentum Gulfstream's Champions Meet generated rather than try to rebuild that momentum and fan base…


Jul 2 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Sunday is Miller’s time, with induction into Hall of Fame

When harness racing driver David Miller headed from Ohio to the East Coast more than a decade ago, he thought it would be temporary.

He was wrong. And it resulted in a permanent place among the sport’s all-time greats.

On Sunday, the 49-year-old Miller will be inducted into…


Jul 2 | Categories: U.S. Trotting Assn., | Comments (0)