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

What to do with Arrogate a horseplayer’s dilemma

Arrogate was regarded as the best horse in the world less than a month ago and it was all but impossible to find anyone who would argue with that assessment. Then he fired a bummer for the ages at 1-20. He'll be prohibitively short again Saturday in the Pacific Classic. The old Arrogate is worth any price. But will we see the old Arrogate? No one, including Bob Baffert, especially Bob Baffert, has an explanation for what happened in the San Diego Handicap.This adds intrigue to a race that looked until July 22 to be a million dollar public workout.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (14)
High and low points of a week at the Spa

The Saratoga experience remains scintillating with the only downer NYRA, which gets tens of millions of dollars from the Aqueduct casino, not sharing any of the windfall with fans. To the contrary, it continues to nickel and dime (or $5 and $10) customers with unjustified price hikes. Meanwhile, Gun Runner is the latest champion to prove that Saratoga's reputation as the Graveyard of Favorites is more myth than reality.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (13)

Equestricon Breaks Quickly for the Fans, Less So For Players

SARATOGA SPRINGS, August 15, 2017—As trade shows go, depending on how much time and passion is devoted to the effort, what you see is exactly what you get. Whether it be trains, boats, cars, or comedians, standard are usually met.

In that context--and in that context only—when I left the Saratoga City Center, my socks remained right where they were when I put them on this morning.

But considering this is horse racing we’re talking about, it was difficult for true lovers of Thoroughbred sport--whether they were first attracted by the horse, the spectacle or the gambling, not to walk away captivated.

What was so impressive was that it happened in the first place. It was something that veteran racetrackers never thought they would see.

So the fact that Equestricon did happen made it an unqualified success. If one wanted to parse those words, the observer would say it was a very worthy first effort. It was the kind of debut that in time could move horse racing forward despite its many impediments.

We could not spend more than several hours a day on Monday and Tuesday but wanted to feel the atmosphere.

After cruising all the exhibits, many belonging to “signature event partners,” we thought the event was in the main nicely attended, especially considering Monday was a racing day.

We noted many of the organizations that one would have expected to see at a horse racing convention: America’s Best Racing, Breeders’ Cup, Daily Racing Form, National Museum of Racing & Hall of Fame, NYRA and TVG.

Other lesser-tiered partners were racetrack organizations; the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Keeneland, The Stronach Group and Woodbine.

We spent time at three conferences. The first was “Racing Media: Past, Present and Future.” We arrived during the session and assume that past media was addressed before taking our seat.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (31)
Trainer Battles Make for Good Sport, Betting Not So Much

SARATOGA SPRINGS, August 13, 2017—

DEAR DIARY,

The Who’s Hot-Who’s Not aspects of handicapping relating to current trainer and jockey standings are, as an exercise, somewhat perfunctory. And that’s the case at virtually every race meet in America, but not this one.

Saratoga is one meeting where everything is magnified, especially considering it’s the only lengthy session that still attracts wholesale mainstream media coverage, whether it be electronic, print or online.

So it follows that one of the major storylines here is the battle for leading trainer between last year’s champion, “local boy” Chad Brown of nearby Mechanicville, vs. perennial leader Todd Pletcher.

It does not escape us that this is a battle between upper-dogs, each having access to a couple of hundred of the best pedigrees in the world every year. Their operations never require rebuilding their as much as their need to simply reload.

Still, diary, in our first full week here, this competition has been pretty dramatic with Brown having a five-win when we arrived last weekend. Then the Pletcher barn began firing on all cylinders and the battle is on in earnest.

The sense is that Brown simply can’t help himself when it comes to winning races with a collection of the best stock he has trained to date while at once Pletcher seems like a man on a mission, wanting to reclaim a title he won a dozen times.

Most observers would agree that Pletcher is the more diplomatic of the two, both would likely downplay the intramurals and talk about how their goal is to make their owners happy by increasing the value of their stock. Make no mistake; that’s true, of course.

But this rivalry is real, each with a burning the desire to out-win his rival; the bigger margin, the better. It’s not like “these teams don’t like each other,” but it’s close.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (19)

Vox Populi on Racing Issues; Saturday’s Big Horses Run Big

Taking the pulse of racing’s audience, a recent Paulick Report poll revealed some interesting results about how the sport’s practitioners and audience—horsemen and horseplayers—view racing’s most dominant issues.

Given the amount of advertising and the kind of promotion that supports the PR site, we assume that the largest segment of its audience are horsemen, the breeders, owners and trainers who put on the show. The results were at once predictable and surprising.

Judged least important by 10% of the responders is concern about competition from other forms of gambling. This category probably elicited a good portion of response from bettors who could care less about casinos, the occasional sports bet notwithstanding.

The next classification--converting casual fans into bettors--produced the first surprising result. If HorseRaceInsider is any measure, then 10% is a low figure. Everyone has an opinion about how to best market the game: It’s the HRI Faithful’s favorite pastime.

Racing needs more of an online presence, for one thing; more television for another; better education and greater social media exposure. Everybody even has an idea about what the game itself is; the old sport vs. gambling vehicle argument.

In our view, it would be unfair to say that the industry has not made some strides in the promotional arena. Of course, it can be made better. If I knew what it was I’d write it and declare myself a genius, but only the devil has all those details.



Written by John Pricci | Comments (21)
The Fourth of July and the Horse: An American Metaphor

Today is Independence Day, a time when we celebrate America’s existence as both a sovereign country and an ideal. And I am thinking about what I always think about; horses, the animals that made America great.

This recollection is different, way different I think because it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to look over the land and recognize it as the one most of us old horseplayers grew up in.

I’m thinking about the horses that still run wild and free out west and how their existence in under attack in modern day America. I think about those equines that helped conquer the west, so that our borders may extend from sea to shining sea.

I’m thinking about the horses who helped us win wars, including wars of our own choosing because of the immorality of slavery, a way of life in half the country, should be no more.

And I’m thinking about a spirited rider-less steed, the iconic Black Jack, who led the procession for an assassinated President who reminded us that “this nation was founded on the principle that all men are created equal.”

And that “the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” It just doesn’t get more American than that.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (12)

New Spa Dirt Surface Needs Adjustments

Images of thoroughbreds emerging from the morning mist, or standing boldly on the racetrack before an idyllic multi-hued Saratoga sunrise, permeate social media, where very little happens without public critique.

Posts and tweets from the Spa started long before the current meet began and are so voluminous now it is hard to keep pace. One important thread I do follow concerns Saratoga’s main track, as reported for HRI on July 11.

Reiterating: SARATOGA: INSIDE INFO

Clocking horses and tracking racetracks, veteran clocker Bruno De Julio (Racingwithbruno‏ @Racingwithbruno) tweeted: “Saratoga Main Track - added materials - clay added to main. Turf course - new sod and new irrigation system - turf looks grand.”

We thanked De Julio for the good information, noting that additional clay in the track cushion will allow it to hold more water and that the main track could play differently when wet and as it dries out. The refurbished turf course is less like to play any differently.

As it turns out, the new composition of the racing surface needs a new and a different maintenance methodology to keep it in optimal shape for racing and training.


Written by Mark Berner | Comments (24)
NYRA On a Roll as Saratoga Approaches

The economic numbers for the first half of the 2017 U.S. racing year are in and the results are a mixed bag. Wagering, the monetary force that drives the game, was up for the entire year, the most recent in June in line with that. This is the good news.

The bad is that the rest of the economic indicators, those for purses, number of races, race days, number of starters and average field size were down across the board for the same periods; purses for the year being the lone positive.

All indicators are especially significant for the New York Racing Association because it handles 20 percent of all U.S. wagers. Some credit must be due NYRA for generating positive news because of the added visibility it provides via greater national exposure of its quality racing product.

The Stars & Stripes Festival at Belmont Park Saturday is the most recent example of the kind of “big-day” marketing philosophy NYRA employs to drive handle. Big NYRA races on live TV via the NBC and NBC Sports Networks lends heft to New York racing across the country.

Additionally, NYRA’s high quality house-produced “Belmont Live” and “Saratoga Live,” programs that can be seen on various FOX Sports networks, MSG+ and Altitude is the kind of video that the industry badly needs.


Written by Mark Berner | Comments (33)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Saratoga Race Course Notes 8/17

Fayeq gets G1 Travers work in early with half-mile breeze
• Travers-bound Irap 'coming around at the right time' for O'Neill
• Mott looks for Elate to move forward; Good Samaritan to work this weekend
• Sadler's Joy on target for G1 Sword Dancer
• Holy Helena in…


Aug 17 | Categories: Saratoga, |
‘Mama’ Back in ‘Pink’ Condition in Thursday’s First Race

Jockey Jesus Rios One Away from 2000 Win Mark
Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot at $153,087 for Friday’s Twilight Card

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Her six-race winning streak snapped by a third-place finish on turf last time out, Pink Mama returned to the main track and winning…


Aug 17 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
‘All-Stakes Pick 4’

Saratoga and Del Mar team up for 'All-Stakes Pick 4' on Pacific Classic Day and Woodward Day


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) announced today an "All-Stakes Pick 4" with a partnership between Saratoga Race Course and Del Mar Racetrack…


Aug 17 | Categories: Saratoga, |
A sextet of fillies face-off in G2 Lake Placid

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - A group of six 3-year-old fillies will run in the Grade 2, $300,000 Lake Placid at 1 1/8 miles on the turf Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.

Patricia Moseley's Proctor's Ledge returns in search of adding another water-themed race to her win column after closing…


Aug 16 | Categories: Saratoga, |
New Money Honey looks to cash in on switch to dirt in G1 Alabama

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - E Five Racing Thoroughbreds' New Money Honey will look to parlay her success on the turf to the main track when she makes her dirt debut in the 137th running of the $600,000 Alabama for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.

New Money Honey…


Aug 16 | Categories: Saratoga, |
Saratoga Race Course Notes 8/16

'Fit and happy' McCraken breezes for G1 Travers
• Lockdown ready for G1 Alabama after bullet work
• Coasted ready to roll in G2 Lake Placid; Miss Mystique to make stakes debut in Seeking the Ante
• Hot City Girl looks to repeat in Union Avenue after layoff


Aug 16 | Categories: Saratoga, |
Saratoga Race Course Notes 8/14

Competitive edition of G1 Travers attracts 17 nominations
• Highway Star remains on point for G1 Ballerina
• G1 Whitney winner Gun Runner 'happy' in half-mile work
• Bigger Picture eyes G1 Sword Dancer
• Holy Helena on target for G1 Alabama
• Old Friends…


Aug 14 | Categories: Saratoga, |
Thursday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Rises to $137,077

Bonita Fires Fresh to Win Panama City Handicap

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 carryover jackpot will stand at $137,077.94 when live racing resumes at Gulfstream Park Thursday.

The popular multi-race wager went unsolved for the 11th consecutive racing…


Aug 14 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Saratoga Race Course Notes 8/13

Songbird confirmed for G1 Personal Ensign
• Oscar Performance targets G1 Joe Hirsch after Secretariat win
• World Approval exits G1 Fourstardave win in fine fettle
• G1 Hopeful may be next for gutsy debut winner Oskar Blues
• Brown keeps focus on Saratoga despite…


Aug 13 | Categories: Saratoga, |
GRADE I ARLINGTON MILLION QUOTES

Joel Rosario (jockey, Beach Patrol, 1st): “They told me I had to get him out of the gate and get into a good position and let him find himself. It took a little bit of time, but he really found his way after. I appreciate the chance and the opportunity to be able to ride him today.”




Aug 13 | Categories: Arlington Park, |
Fourstardave (G1) Quotes

Mark Casse, winning trainer of World Approval (No. 7): "When we saw the rain was coming, Ms. [Charlotte] Weber was concerned and we talked about it a few times, and I thought his race was so good in the [Grade 2] Dixie, I thought the rain it wasn't going to hurt her. We couldn't get Julien [Leparoux]…


Aug 13 | Categories: Saratoga, |
Pure Silver romps field in G2 Adirondack

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - It took just a few strides out of the gate for Pure Silver to get her customary lead before she quickly took command of the field of seven in cruising to a 9 ½-length win in the Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.

Sent off at…


Aug 13 | Categories: Saratoga, |