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

Happy Horseplaying Holidays!

SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY, November, 25, 2015—From coast to coast and beyond, this holiday weekend will feature a glut of stakes races, 48 over four days, in fact, 25 of them graded, five of those Grade 1.

Those championship defining events, from Kentucky’s Clark Handicap Friday to New York’s Cigar Mile and Del Mar’s Hollywood Derby Saturday, to Sunday’s Matriarch and even farther West--so far west it’s actually in the Far East--the storied Japan Cup.

What with holiday and race draw schedules, we will take a handicapping look-in on Friday’s Clark and Saturday’s Cigar Mile, along with Kentucky Derby defining G2s for soon-to-be-three-year-olds; Aqueduct’s Remsen and Churchill’s Jockey Club Stakes.


Like its springtime brother, the G1 Stephen Foster which also is 9 furlongs, this event has become one of the nation’s top handicap attraction.

Perhaps it’s the novelty of having a handicap race at all anymore; though it seems that 126 pounds is the high-weight benchmark these days, with the competition scaled lower.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)
Thinking Upset in First Kentucky Prep and Other Featured Thoughts

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., November 21, 2015--Don’t blame me for this extremely early Kentucky Derby preview. Simply point those fingers at Churchill Downs if you must. After all, they have kept the Delta Downs Jackpot in place as a Derby qualifier. In fact, ditto that for the Delta Princess and Kentucky Oaks.

And so Vinton, Louisiana is the place to be Saturday where sunny skies are projected and where an All-Stakes Pick Four with a $200,000 guarantee is in place, the sequence ending with Delta’s million-dollar mile-and-a-sixteenth for juvenile males.

Both are Grade 3 and worth 10 points on the Derby/Oaks qualifying scale. Again, the track is expected to be fast, as is forecast for Louisville and New York.

In South Florida, where there’s always a chance of afternoon thunderstorms this time a year but not specifically expected Saturday, two graded stakes, one for each sex and also at the G3 level, are being offered at Gulfstream Park West, nee Calder.

At Churchill Downs, the G3 Cardinal for fillies and mares 3 & up at eight and a half furlongs is one of its best Fall features each year based on competitiveness and field size—again is an extremely tough puzzle.

But, paraphrasing Manfred Mann, “mama, that’s where the value is.” We’ve left five fillies in our exacta mix: Faufiler (6-1), Sistas Stroll (8-1), Emotional Kitten (12-1), Button Down (7-2) and Kiss Moon (5-1). We believe Button Down is most likely to prove best in show.

Here’s a detailed handicapping look-in at the four other Saturday offerings:

Written by John Pricci | Comments (3)

The (Derby) future is now; avoid Spa winners

The first round of Kentucky Derby futures is this weekend with another ridiculous pool added--the sire of the Derby winner. Nyquist is a deserving early favorite for the Run for the Roses but he'll have to prove a son of Uncle Mo can get 10 furlongs. Exaggerator also looked promising in winning the Delta Jackpot last weekend. However, he is bucking a trend that indicates Saratoga might be the launch pad for future champions but not Kentucky Derby winners.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (0)
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)

Marc Lawrence College & Peo Upsets Nov. 27-30

Marshall over W KENTUCKY by 3

Two trains on one track usually leads to a slam-bang collision and that’s what we expect here when this pair of streaking teams – Marshall is 8-1 SU in its last nine and WKU is 7-1 SU in its last eight – lock horns in Bowling Green. Tonight’s battle for the C-USA East’s top spot is a Black Friday rematch from last year’s stunning 67-66 loss the Herd suffered as 23.5-point home chalk, spoiling an 11-0 perfect season mark. Now THAT’S what we call meaningful revenge! Doc Holliday’s crew has also enjoyed a week of rest to bask in the glow
of their confidence-building 52-0 rout over FIU and prepare a game plan for this circled-in-red rematch. Don’t expect the Hilltoppers to relinquish their throne without a fight: their only two losses this year came on the road against Indiana and LSU, and they’re 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS on this field, winning by an average of 22.8 PPG at L.T. Smith Stadium. But while Western Kentucky may own an intimidating 10-1 SU mark in Last Home Games, the ‘Toppers are a bottom-feeding 1-6 ATS in their last seven home contests versus avenging foes. Not so for Marshall, who stands 14-3 SU in the last 17 games away from Huntington and will dress up as a dog for only the third time in the last three years. Holliday’s Herd is also 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS in their last six games when seeking revenge, which leads us to The Clincher: The Hilltoppers are 2-10 ATS as favorites versus .500 or greater opponents, including 0-7 ATS at home.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)
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)

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)


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)