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

Jockey appeals make a mockery of rules

Suspensions are a primary tool to control over-aggressive or outright reckless race-riding. But jockeys are allowed to make a mockery of the system by lodging appeals, then withdrawing them and serving the time when it is convenient. This can't be allowed to continue. Speaking of rulings, the NY Gambling Commission is scheduled to finally release its report on the investigation of Steve Asmussen, which was settled in Kentucky almost a year ago.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (15)
Decoupling could benefit thoroughbreds

Florida horsemen are marshalling their forces to combat another effort in the Florida legislature this spring to decouple the necessity to run dog racing and jai alai to maintain a racino. This could be a misguided effort. Gulfstream and Tampa Bay Downs have given no indication they would curtail racing if decoupling passes and the anticipated end of dog racing and jai alai would give horses a monopoly in pari-mutuel wagering. Rather than fight decoupling, thoroughbred efforts should be concentrated on tailoring any bill to the advantage of horse racing.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (10)

Angst of Bloodhorse Has It Right on CRW

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., November 22, 2015—When I first learned that the Jockey Club was buying a controlling interest in “Bloodhorse” magazine, I feared the worst.

My initial reaction was that the austere organization would follow the lead of many racetracks which limit media credentials in an effort to manage the news, making reporters more dependent on information disseminated via press release.

Then I took a different tack, that The Jockey Club, whether you agree with its policies or not, yields immense influence, e.g., their laudable efforts on the discontinued use of raceday medication.

I now believe my initial concerns were unfounded, especially if the "new" editorial policy permits a column such as the one authored by Frank Angst five days ago. After all, creating a commotion isn't the Jockey Club's default position.

But you know an item is on point when it stirs controversy, considered a dirty word inside the industry--even when its point of view is trying to correct something that is unfair on its face, and that's computer-robotic wagering.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (40)
Jeff Gural: HRI’s Executive of the Year

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., November 17, 2015--Jeff Gural and I have had only two brief conversations in our life, one of a social nature the night New Meadowlands celebrated Tom Durkin, their former longtime harness announcer. It was shortly after Durkin announced his intention to retire.

But we celebrated the Lord of The Meadowlands long before that night in East Rutherford. I never met a racing executive who walked his talk more than Gural, from his unabashed love for the game to putting up his own $120 million to revive a track that had lost much of its luster.

We’ve written about how he takes integrity matters into his own hands by hiring a former state trooper to bolster track security by instituting an in-house integrity program at the glitzy venue a 25-minute ride from Manhattan’s lower West Side.

He had trainers suspected of using illegal drugs which were being administered at a Jersey Turnpike rest stop before they exited at 16W and entered the new receiving barn he built to house and monitor all horses racing that night.

He’s shipped split drug samples to Hong Kong on his own dime after instituting an unannounced out-of-competition testing program because he believes that “if you’re not doing out-of-competition testing, you’re not testing at all.”

Gural takes full advantage of private property provisions of the law, something all tracks could do if they truly had the will to do so and were willing to put the customer first. His policies are in place at his other harness tracks, upstate New York’s Tioga and Vernon Downs.

A horse owner, he believes that horsemen and tracks should be subservient to the good of the game. Citing an apparent lack of will and dwindling state budgets, Gural, a member of the Water, Hay and Oats Alliance, recently called on Thoroughbred tracks to follow his lead.

While he thinks USADA would be an effective, independent regulator, the simplest solution is for track owners to follow his initiatives, challenging the operators of America’s top five Thoroughbred venues--Churchill Downs, Gulfstream Park, Keeneland, Santa Anita and Saratoga--to make a game-changing impact.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (10)

College & Pro Upsets, November 14-15

Virginia Tech over GEORGIA TECH by 6

The Hokies need two wins in their final three games to send retiring HC Frank Beamer out in style as that would mark Beamer’s 23rd consecutive bowl appearance. Otherwise, it would be an inglorious ending to a stellar Hall of Fame career. It would also have us calling the Hokies ‘bastards’ and putting a large ‘Pitt’ in our stomachs as we’re big fans of Beamer Ball. That’s the case once again this week as we can see he’s not fond of being an underdog to a team that beat him in a previous matchup (fell at home, 27-24, to the Yellow Jackets last year). Beamer also knows that Coastal-leading UNC is still on the docket so one of those two wins will likely need to come tonight if he hopes to be playing into December. Thankfully, the Jackets appear to be the perfect fodder. At 1-5 in ACC play, Paul Johnson’s jokers currently reside in the Coastal cellar and are 0-4 SUATS as conference chalk this season. Better yet, this has been a visitor’s series with the road team covering eight of the last nine, including each of the last five. However, the main reason we believe the Hokies will win in Atlanta for the fifth time in sixth tries.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)
Marc Lawrence College & Pro Upsets Nov. 7-9

Oklahoma State over TCU by 8

This afternoon matchup in Stillwater between No. 3 TCU and No. 10 Okie State is just the first in a string of heavyweight contests in November that will determine the Big 12 champion, and a likely trip
to the College Football Playoff. And while we’ll readily admit that Horned Frog QB Trevone Boykin is the best player on the field today, the Cowboys own some of the biggest ATS edges we’ve ever seen in what many expect to be a tightly-contested clash. For openers, there’s no denying TCU’s defense is down a notch this year and the Froggies have been pointspread poison as road chalk in games when they allow 20 or more points, going 6-30 ATS, including 1-14 ATS the last fifteen. Enter OSU head coach Mike Gundy’s 33-8 SU and 25-12-1 ATS success in games where the Cowboys are undefeated, including 19-3 SU at home – and in those 22 home games, his team has scored 20 or more points in every game. The Fort Worth Frogs also have to overcome a trio of disturbing trends: 1-4 ATS away versus Big 12 revenge, 1-3 ATS as conference road favorites of less than 7 points, and 2-6 ATS off a SU conference win of 28 or more points. Oklahoma State has compiled an impressive 18-5 SU and 17-5-1 ATS log against Texas teams since 2009, plus the Pokes are a ‘Puttin’ On The Stats’ play from this week’s SMART BOX. Gundy and company are also burning to get even for last year’s 42-9 smackdown by TCU, a defeat that sent OSU into a 0-5 SU and 1-4 ATS slide that almost capsized its season (it took an upset of arch rival Oklahoma in the final regular season game to clinch a bowl berth).

Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)

Business As Usual: Appellate Court Denies Dutrow Appeal

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., June 25, 2015—On June 24 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed trainer Rick Dutrow’s appeal of a 10-year suspension based on his claim that he was denied due process in a 2011 New York State administrative hearing.

This ruling in no way qualifies as an upset, of course. It’s simply how the process works: State’s conduct administrative hearings to adjudicate cases de jure in the guise of acting in the public interest then deny constitutional guarantees during that process.

These hearings are de facto kangaroo courts in which agenda rules. Strict rules of evidence do not apply, hearsay is permitted, and because of racing’s patchwork quilt of drug testing and regulation the results most often are capricious and arbitrary.

Even though the burden of proof is on the state, the presumption in these cases is that the client is guilty. Resultantly, appeals courts are loathe to reverse the findings of administrative hearings, reversals somehow being a tacit admission that the state process was flawed at best or, in Dutrow’s case, unconstitutional at its core.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (11)
Part 3 HRI Special Report on the Dutrow Case: Patti Cerda Speaks Out

What you are about to read is an unsolicited, personal, unabridged statement of an ex-NYRA employee in response to several readers who believe that some of the individuals who defended Rick Dutrow Jr. in the comments section of Part 1, Part 2 of HRI’s Special Report--an investigation into the Dutrow case in which the trainer was suspended for 10 years--did so because they were friends of Dutrow. In Part 3, Patti Cerda, for 20 years the Manager of the NYRA Identification Office responsible for issuing credentials to all individuals having business at any of the three NYRA tracks, states that she was made to issue false identification badges to undocumented backstretch workers or risk losing her job. That process is counter to federal and state laws, in short, an illegal act. The following is her account, edited for syntax and punctuation only

Written by John Pricci | Comments (80)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Thanksgiving Rainbow 6 Carryover $62,000 At Gulfstream

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - Gulfstream Park West's special Thanksgiving Day program will be highlighted with a 20-cent Rainbow 6 carryover Thursday of $62,661.96.

First race post time is 11:40 a.m.

Nov 26 | Categories: Gulfstream West, | Comments (0)
Churchill Downs Stakes Advances: Wed 11/25


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015)
– John C. Oxley’s Airoforce, the winner of Keeneland’s $250,000 Bourbon Stakes (Grade III)…

Nov 26 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
Clement duo, Private Zone square off in G1 Cigar Mile

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Already with a personal best 98 wins on the year, trainer Christophe Clement will send out a potent pair in the Grade 1, $500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack in hopes of his securing his first victory in the marquee one-mile dirt race.

Nov 26 | Categories: Aqueduct, | Comments (0)
Churchill Downs Stakes Advances


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015)
– Donegal Racing’s Travers Stakes (GI) winner Keen Ice, the only horse to defeat Kentucky Derby Presented…

Nov 25 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
Taris returns to New York in Go For Wand

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Fresh off a solid third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, multiple graded stakes winner Taris returns to New York for the first since her maiden victory as she faces a field of six other fillies and mares in Friday's Grade 3, $300,000 Go For Wand Handicap…

Nov 25 | Categories: Aqueduct, | Comments (0)

OLDSMAR, FL. – Full fields and the return of two Tampa Bay Downs stakes winners highlight a 10-race card Saturday on Opening Day at the Oldsmar oval.

In addition to the feature ninth race, the $28,000 Lightning City Prep for fillies and mares at five furlongs on the turf, the program…

Nov 25 | Categories: Tampa Bay Downs, | Comments (0)
La Verdad could cap career with G3 Fall Highweight win

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - In what could be the final start of her illustrious career, La Verdad will take on males for the second straight year in the Grade 3, $250,000 Fall Highweight Handicap on Thursday at Aqueduct Racetrack.

A daughter of Yes It's True out of the Hook and Ladder mare Noble…

Nov 24 | Categories: Aqueduct, | Comments (0)
$100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap (G3) Quotes

Trainer Marcus Vitali (Lochte): “I wasn’t concerned. I was actually hoping it came off the turf. I’ve been dying to try this horse (on the dirt). A long way back when we first got him, he ran in the wet at Gulfstream and got beat a nose, had a tough trip and still came running.


Nov 22 | Categories: Gulfstream West, | Comments (0)
$100,000 My Charmer Handicap (G3) Quotes

Trainer Bill Mott (Lady Lara): “The timing from her last race worked out well. We shipped her down here and we weren’t sure if we were going to run her. She took the ship well and seemed like she looked good and was training good, so we decided to go ahead and run.

“After we got around…

Nov 22 | Categories: Gulfstream West, | Comments (0)
Churchill Downs Stakes Recap: $100,000 CARDINAL HANDICAP


(Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015) - Canadian invader Button Down (GB) found the chilly and rainy conditions on Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs to her liking as the 4-year-old filly swept past the…

Nov 22 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
Artie Schiller quotes

Randi Melton, assistant to winning trainer Mark Casse of Sky Flight (No. 1): "Perfect trip with the one-hole. We were able to sit off the speed to see what it was like and try to have a little something to aim at, which is what Joel did. He's such a tremendous rider. [Aztec Brave] gave us our work to…

Nov 22 | Categories: Aqueduct, | Comments (0)
Churchill Downs Stakes Advance: GRADE III CARDINAL HANDICAP


(Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015) – Carl F. Pollard’s Kiss Moon and Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Emotional Kitten, winners of graded…

Nov 20 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)