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.

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.

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

American Pharoah the latest star leaving the game too soon

The announcement that American Pharoah will almost certainly be retired at the end of his 3-year-old campaign has stripped some of the excitement from his pursuit of the Triple Crown. Instead of a new star for fans to get enthused about, he will soon be no more than a memory.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (5)
NYRA Making Its Own History

A decision by the New York Racing Association based on business considerations, with customer comfort as a guise, will make Belmont Park on June 6 the first racetrack in history to turn away customers. In an era where tracks try to attract a few more fans by concocting every promotion imaginable, almost all of which have little to do with racing, NYRA is willing to say you're not welcome to 20,000 to 30,000 fans, attracted by, of all things, racing. A crowd in excess of 100,000 will make things uncomfortable, but this is not what this is about. NYRA is trying to guarantee it can sell 90,000 tickets in advance for years when a Triple Crown is not at stake.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (38)

A Tale of Two Franchises

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., May 24, 2015—In the last two weeks, it has been the best of times for a couple of Stronach Group racetracks.

It began a week ago Saturday night after all of Pimlico’s final numbers were fully digested. The Preakness metrics were off the charts, which flew in the face of national television rating that were down slightly.

Not sure what these counter-intuitive results mean in the overall, considering here was a budding superstar that delivered on U.S. racing biggest stage which drew a huge national audience, yet two weeks later American sports fans weren’t glued to their HDTVs.

Surely, that won’t be the case a fortnight from now, or will it? As my good friend, the late Jack Wilson constantly counseled, “better say maybe big Johnny.”

Keeping in the spirit of the latest television commercial that continues to amuse, the Preakness numbers were “stupid good.”

It started on Black-Eyed Susan day when attendance of 42,700, representing a 23% rise. And handle of nearly $18.5 million was the highest in a decade, up an astounding 63 percent from 2014’s $11.3 million.

Now attendance and handle metrics may not hold the weight they once did, it’s still the fastest way to know how a track is doing: Thumbs up or thumbs down.

While mainstream America might have yawned at American Pharoah’s attempt to stay alive in a bid for racing immortality, they truly love their Preakness in Baltimore.

Thanks to an aggressive betting menu, a 14th race, and good weather--until the Preakness horses started their Maryland-My-Maryland parade, that is--handle was up a tad, from $83.7 million to $85.1 year over year.

Parenthetically, imagine what the handle might have been if bettors were allowed to churn a little more money but could not in the face of high takeout rates, and we’re not talking crab-cakes-to-go here.

Despite a 12% takeout in the Pick 5, the equal of Sam Houston Park’s, the lowest in North America, the blended rake at Pimlico is an extremely high 23.69%, which ranks it 35th of 62 tracks rated by the Horseplayers Association of North America.

But trust that management is duly aware of the takeout issue, but the priority remains, as it should be, to make Maryland racing the success it once was and a leader in a Mid-Atlantic region badly in need of a leading light.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (17)
Ready, Aim, Firing Line

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., May 12, 2015—It’s anticipated that Saturday’s Preakness field will be relatively small although we suspect it will turn out slightly larger than many expect when entries are taken May 13.

In a pre-Derby column, we asked whether Bob Baffert would cost himself a chance at Triple Crown immortality by winning America’s Race with either American Pharoah or Dortmund then run both colts back in the Preakness, which is expected to happen later today.

This was pre-supposing that he had the best horses going into Louisville and the best two horses coming out. That might still be the case, something we will all know with some certitude late Saturday afternoon.

Nearly two weeks ago, American Pharoah not only validated his thrashing of overmatched Arkansas rivals but proved that he was the best of his generation; unknown class quantities such as Competitive Edge and Kentuckian notwithstanding.

American Pharoah showed guts to match his undeniable brilliance, proved he could survive a fetlock-to-fetlock battle, and that when Victor Espinoza would finally ask him to reach bottom, there would be more there, there.

However, we think something remains to be seen relative to true greatness, that he is the equal of legends past, most notably Seattle Slew, the magnificent Hall of Famer to which many observers have been more than willing to draw a comparison.

To paraphrase the irascible Lee Corso, not so fast my friends.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (14)

American Pharoah: What Price Greatness?

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., May 21, 2015--This is no news flash: American Pharoah is quite the race horse. It takes a special Thoroughbred to go on a four-race roll at the highest divisional levels in this day and age.

Winning four races in an eight-week span against the best your generation has to offer takes a special horse, indeed. American Pharoah won the Derby with class and courage; he took the Preakness with class and speed.

Yes, American Pharoah is extremely gifted, to date the best of his very talented peer group, but I’m not yet ready to concede the other ‘G’ word: Great.

For me, that will take one more victory, his fifth in 11 weeks, including three which have been won in tandem only 11 times in history.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (14)
Game On…Rained On…Game Over

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., May 16, 2015--In the end, the Preakness players told you all you needed to know.

In the walkover from the Preakness Stakes barn, Bob Baffert was asked how American Pharoah’s condition was; would he be ready for the challenge, coming back in two weeks?

Would we see the same horse that dominated the Arkansas Derby before showing his class and grit three weeks later in Louisville?

Baffert said just what you’d expect him to say, “but you still need that luck,” he said to the national television audience.

After the race, Victor Espinoza was asked on his way to the winners’ circle after spread-eagling the Preakness field from pillar to post whether he had planned the winning front-running gambit.

“After the rain I didn’t want to be behind horses,” Espinoza said. He didn’t need to think about strategy and the trip any longer. Espinoza knew he had to quarter-horse out of there and take the race to his rivals from the jump.

And he took Preakness 140 by taking the lead then taking the prize. Now Espinoza and American Pharoah can take their act on the road just one more time, this time for the biggest prize of all; racing immortality.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (22)

Post Kentucky Derby Rankings

HRI's Triple Crown Power 10, May 5, 2015

1. American Pharoah

2. Dortmund

3. Firing Line

4. Frosted

5. Materiality

6. Competitive Edge

7. Carpe Diem

8. Upstart

9. International Star

10. Lovely Maria

Written by John Pricci | Comments (1)
All Hail Conquering Pharoah

SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY, April 12, 2015—That’s it, right? All done? No more preps?

Finally, just two weeks of “just what we wanted, well within himself, couldn’t be doing any better” workouts leading up to the big dance and all that’s left is the betting.

Yes, being a little facetious because workouts at Churchill Downs do mean a lot: If it were possible, you could have asked Charlie Whittingham. Now you could speak with Carl Nafzger, or Graham Motion, or… But first things first:

Commented on a thread here that I wanted to see another dimension, and I did: I see the immediate future up ahead. It’s like you’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.

It’s a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's a signpost up ahead: your next stop: the Tri-light Zone.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (14)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Belmont Park Notes 5/26

• Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah breezes at Churchill Downs; War Story out of Belmont
• Untapable, Shook Up breeze Monday for Belmont Stakes Day assignments for Asmussen

ELMONT, N.Y. - Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah is likely to face nine contenders in the Grade 1,…

May 26 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Tuesday, May 26, 2015) – Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and Preakness Stakes (GI) winner American Pharoah took his preparation for the June 6 Belmont Stakes (GI) to the next level breezing a half-mile in :48 over a fast track Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs. Martin…

May 26 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
Belmont Park Notes 5/24

• Stewart has high hopes for Belmont contender Tale of Verve
• Mubtaahij breezes for Belmont Stakes bid
• Honor Code star of McGaughey's Belmont Stakes Racing Festival workers
• Brown loaded with G1 winners for Belmont Stakes Racing Festival

ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer…

May 25 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Belmont Park Notes 5/22

• Pletcher cohorts work toward Belmont Stakes Racing Festival assignments
• Frosted tunes up for Belmont with G1 Met Mile hopeful Tamarkuz
• Last year's Belmont Stakes winner, Tonalist, works for Met Mile

ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Todd Pletcher sent out a veritable "Who's…

May 23 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Mandatory Payout of Rainbow 6 Produces $36,652.54 Payoff

Multiple Ticketholders Cash in on Multi-Race Wager

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – A mandatory payout of the 20-cent Rainbow 6 pool produced multiple winners of $36,652.54 Friday at Gulfstream Park.

The popular multi-wager had gone unsolved for 16 straight racing days, leading up to…

May 23 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Barn Notes: American Pharoah Gallops at Churchill Downs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Friday, May 22, 2015) – Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) winner American Pharoah had his first gallop since his seven-length romp in last Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (GI) in preparation for the final leg of the Triple Crown, the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (GI) on June…

May 22 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
Belmont Park Notes 5/21

• Frosted confirmed for G1 Belmont Stakes on June 6
• Wicked Strong, Effinex eye Belmont Stakes Day assignments
• Cruz scores first win as a journeyman

ELMONT, N.Y. - Godolphin Racing's Frosted is now slated to challenge Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah in the Grade…

May 22 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
American Pharoah Returns to Track; Jogged at Churchill Downs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Thursday, May 21, 2015) - Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) and Preakness (GI) winner American Pharoah (7-6-0-0-$3,730,300) returned to the track Thursday for the first time since Saturday's seven-length romp in the slop at Pimlico Race Course. The 3-year-old flew from…

May 22 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
Friday’s Rainbow 6 Mandatory Payout Offers $350,000 Guaranteed Pool

Multi-Race Bet Unsolved for 16th Day to Set Up Lucrative Opportunity

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Bettors will be provided a lucrative opportunity at Gulfstream Park Friday, when a mandatory payout of a $350,000 guaranteed pool for the 20-cent Rainbow 6 pool is scheduled.

May 22 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
National Museum of Racing Pillars of the Turf

Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt and John Hay Whitney elected to
National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame as Pillars of the Turf

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Esteemed sportsmen Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt and John Hay Whitney have been elected to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame…

May 21 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)

Winning trainer Bob Baffert (American Pharoah): “What a day for Baltimore. They really needed this after all they’ve been through. I’m really happy for them. I just love coming here.”

“He’s just an amazing horse. Everyone talks about the greatness and it’s just starting to…

May 17 | Categories: Preakness Stakes, | Comments (0)
Celestine gets up in time for Wait A While win

ELMONT, N.Y. - James A. Bryan Jr.'s Celestine made her first start in a new barn a successful one, kicking clear to a 1 ½-length victory in the $100,000 Wait A While Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday at Belmont Park.

The sophomore daughter of Scat Daddy began her career last fall…

May 17 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)