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

Espinoza got off easy with only seven days

Santa Anita stewards wasted no time in slapping Victor Espinoza with a seven-day suspension for his ride on Sky Kingdom in the Awesome Again in which the regular rider of California Chrome's sole purpose seemed to be to get Shared Belief beaten. Espinoza's defenders say he was only race riding but the fact that he has chosen not to appeal is revealing.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (9)
Shared Belief steals the show on a day of stars

Shared Belief was awesome again in the Awesome Again. Overcoming a nightmare trip, he was more awesome than ever in gutting out his seventh straight win. In spite of Tonalist 's facile score in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Shared Belief heads toward the Breeders' Cup one of the biggest favorites on racing's biggest day.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (11)

Marc Lawrence College and Pro Upsets, Oct. 1--Oct. 6

UTAH STATE over BYU by 1

The first of seven non-conference tilts takes us out to Mormon country where this bitter 92-year-old rivalry finds the victors taking home the Old Wagon Wheel and the losers making wives jokes. And while BYU has garnered the ‘Wheel’ in 29 of the last 33 meetings, it’s been the Aggies that have grabbed the cash (5-1 ATS last six) and the punch lines (“your wives are so ugly they use them in prisons to cure sex offenders”). Well, we have a feeling the Old Wheel is heading back to Logan as Utah State is 9-0 ATS as dogs of 5 or more points, 4-0 ATS with rest and 5-1-1 ATS with non-conference revenge. Meanwhile, the Cougars are 0-3 ATS with rest over the past two seasons and a far-too-hospitable 1-9 ATS in a third straight home game. So whether it’s Chuckie Keeton under center or accomplished back-up Darell Garretson (6-1 as starter in 2013), we feel the Heisman buzz surrounding BYU signal-caller Taysom Hill may just turn into another Dangerfield joke. At least that’s what our INCREDIBLE STAT on page 3 thinks as it provides The Clincher: BYU is 0-12 ATS at home off back-to-back home games after scoring 14 or more points in its last game.

Written by Marc Lawrence | Comments (0)
Marc Lawrence College and Pro Upsets, Sept. 24-29


Arkansas over Texas AM by 1

Remember the old Monkees’ hit, ‘I’m a Believer’? Well, we didn’t see too many Arkansas faces under their helmets but we’re certainly believers after seeing them go hog wild against Northern Illinois last week. In fact, there’s ‘not a trace of doubt in our mind’ (well, maybe a little) that they’re going to snap a nasty 13-game SEC losing skein. Yes, the Aggies shocked the Gamecocks in the season opener and have since sliced and diced Lamar, Rice and SMU, but they best not get caught looking ahead (Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama on the October slate) as Arky can run the ball. And if there’s one thing that these Agriculturalists don’t like is an overland attack as they are an ugly 7-30 ATS as chalk of 20 or less points in games where they allow 150 or more rushing yards, including 2-18 ATS when the rushing total reaches 230 or more yards. And remember – this game is taking place at Jerry’s World and it just so happens that Jerry Jones is an Arkansas grad. Now while we’re not implying that Mr. Jones may have a little influence on the outcome, we should point out that A&M is 0-4 ATS at neutral sites of late, 0-5-1 ATS in Game Five of the season and 1-8 ATS in this series since 1988. So while the novice handicapper may think that laying points is ‘more or less a givin’ thing’, we say
the more we gave, the less we got. Thus the points become the play tonight in Arlington and it’s confirmed by The Clincher: Razorbacks’ head coach Bret Bielema is 42-11 SU in his career in games off a win of more than 7 points, with only 2 of the 11 losses by more than 10 points... making him 51-2 ATS to this opening number.

Written by Marc Lawrence | Comments (0)

Smarty’s Belmont Controversy: The Aftermath, Part V

Smarty Jones’ bid at the Triple Crown ended just a length short. Years later, the memory remains, and so too does Smarty’s resonant effect on the world of horse racing.

Four years later Big Brown was a live threat to win the Triple Crown. The memory of Smarty’s run was still fresh in everyone’s mind. He was the last horse that had a chance to do it.

Pat Forde, an senior writer then, wrote a piece titled “Ganging up on favorite isn’t unimaginable at Belmont.”

The idea is sinister. It’s sporting sacrilege. But it’s a question that needs to be asked.

Would someone actually enter the Belmont Stakes with the intention of making massive favorite Big Brown lose the Triple Crown rather than with the intention of seeing his own horse win?

Written by Brendan O'Meara | Comments (5)
Belmont Day: Smarty Jones & Racing History, Part IV

Smarty Jones had delivered in the first two legs of the Triple Crown. The Smarty Party was in full force and there was just one race to go. The weight of history and the Triple Crown lay before Smarty Jones if he could just hold on—and hold off—any late charges.

The 1 ½ miles of the Belmont Stakes was all that stood between Smarty Jones and immortality. It promised to be the toughest challenge of his career. If he could just hold onto his winning form for one more race…

For months, all the Chapmans heard was that Smarty didn’t have the pedigree, that he’d run into a wall sooner or later. Yet here they were—a win away from being the racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner.

Deep down, Roy thought that someday, somewhere, he’s going to get beat. He only had to wait three more weeks now to wait.

Written by Brendan O'Meara | Comments (5)

What’s the Better Bet: Horses or Sports?

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, September 12, 2014---Our friends next door in the Garden State New have been making wagering news of late.

What with New Jersey’s fiscal crisis and recent credit downgrade, Governor Chris Christie, coincidentally or not, has decided to roll the dice—those that remain—on sports betting.

Legalizing marijuana would have been far more profitable and probably would have a better chance to be ignored when it comes to the enforcement of federal law.

But the sports leagues lobby is very strong and they are against legalized gambling. The leagues cite the “integrity of the competition” and they correctly figure that the courts will favor the power of corporations over the power to the people.

"Ignoring federal law, rather than working to reform federal standards, is counter to our democratic traditions and inconsistent with the Constitutional values,” Christie wrote when he vetoed proposed sports gambling legislation.

Of course, he’s really no different from most pols. Doesn’t it always work like this? You’re for something until you’re against it but now you’re for it again.

We’re sure legislators from all over the U.S. are shocked to learn there’s gambling going on in the sports world. The hypocrisy from all levels of government to the leagues themselves is as astounding as it is predictable.

For about a month, my local radio sports station, WOFX-980 AM, has been running ads about fantasy football, to the effect that “you don’t have to wait until season’s end to see if you won because there’s a new cash contest every week.”

I guess the authorities figure it’s just like betting on the horses, only with people.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (9)
We’re Not Guests, We’re Customers

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, September 8, 2014--I’m a Bill Shanklin fan and have been for some time. A creative Lexington-based marketer, some of the more inventive ideas I have encountered in this business seems to have originated with him.

This time, however, I think he missed the mark. Oh, he’s correct when he posits that racing needs to cultivate the horseplayer but, if takeout is the issue, his focus is on the wrong type of player.

His idea of the ideal target, the whale, has no incentive to see takeout lowered since the high rates in place ultimately fuel his rebates.

If takeouts were lowered across the board, increased participation would affect the nigh-volume bettor in a more meaningful way because “square money” would be back in play.

Fresh betting capital would allow the deep-pocketed player to make up for smaller rebates because his expertise and bankroll leverage could buy more big-payout pools, especially fueled by carryovers.

Lower takeout, in addition to keeping active players liquid longer, would give way to marketing campaigns that attract new bettors who don’t mind mixing a little intellect with their action.

But until the current customer base is maintained and new ones are created, added liquidity won’t happen, and whales will begin to cannibalize each other, a process already underway.

As this trend continues and grows, when the whale’s perceived edge becomes smaller and smaller, they’ll move on to the next big gambling scheme.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (29)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
$1 Million Shadwell Turf Mile

Two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan Faces Seven Rivals
in Saturday’s $1 Million Shadwell Turf Mile

Stakes is first seven-figure race in Keeneland history

LEXINGTON, KY (Oct. 1, 2014) – Morton Fink’s reigning two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan, who is based at Keeneland,…

Oct 1 | Categories: Keeneland, | Comments (0)
Gulfstream West Undergoes Renovations for Upcoming Fall Turf Festival

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - In preparation for the upcoming Gulfstream Park Fall Turf Festival, the facilities at Gulfstream Park West, formerly Calder Race Course, have undergone extensive renovations.

Oct 1 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) Quotes

Christophe Clement, winning trainer of Tonalist (No. 8): "I probably should have removed the blinkers before the Travers. He, obviously, was a bit too aggressive in the Travers. Even so, he didn't quit. I love the way that, even when he got beat in the Travers he went on to the wire."

Sep 28 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) Quotes

H. Graham Motion, winning trainer of Main Sequence (No. 5): "What a cool horse. Ironically, I thought he ran his most professional race today and then you had the bump right before the wire."

Sep 28 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Flower Bowl (G1) Quotes

Chad Brown, winning trainer of Stephanie's Kitten (No. 9): "She got a beautiful trip, and I'm really proud of this filly; she deserved to get a good, clean trip. That's the third race in a row for us that I felt she ran terrific. She was a little unlucky in the Beverly D. and Diana, and this time [jockey]…

Sep 28 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Beldame (G1) Quotes

Rudy Rodriguez, winning trainer of Belle Gallantey (No. 7): "It's very, very special. We're working very hard with these kinds of horses and thank God they did it. I don't know what to tell you. I'm speechless."

Sep 28 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Kelso Handicap (G2) Quotes

Rudy Rodriguez, winning trainer of Vyjack (No. 3): "Today, the key was coming out of the gate. Today, he broke good. I was very pleased with the way he was working in the morning, and I was happy to see him win because he'd been training very, very well in the mornings. Going a mile, he doesn't have…

Sep 28 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Churchill Downs Stakes Recap


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014) - Cigar Street, owned by Jake Ballis and NBA star Rashard Lewis, was eager to run early but waited until midway around the far turn before taking command and turning back…

Sep 28 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)


MIKE SMITH, SHARED BELIEF, WINNER: “They tried to use some tactics on me which made the win today even sweeter. They just kept taking me wide, taking me wide, and I believe if you want to press the pace or take me out a little bit, OK. But doing it at all costs just to get…

Sep 28 | Categories: Santa Anita, | Comments (0)
Main Sequence aims for third straight G1 in Joe Hirsch Turf Classic

ELMONT, N.Y. - Since arriving in the United States earlier this year, all Main Sequence has done is win Grade 1 races. On Saturday, the English-bred gelding will be favored to make it three in a row in the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic for 3-year-olds and up at Belmont Park.

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

Friday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Pool Guaranteed at $50,000
Zimmerman Enjoys Working Holiday in Trinidad and Tobago
Apprentice Fontanez Makes Three Visits to Winner's Circle

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved for the sixth straight program at…

Sep 26 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Churchill Downs Barn Notes: Thursday, Sept. 25


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014) – Coming off an eighth-place finish in the $1.5 million Whitney (Grade I) at Saratoga on Aug. 2, Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing is seeking a return to top form in…

Sep 26 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)