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
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

Bayern Gets Some Help, Leaves Chrome in His Wake

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, September 20, 2014—There are several questions that need answering in regard to the return of dual classics winner California Chrome in the Pennsylvania Derby Saturday at Parx Racing.

Was his defeat a function of pace? Was he too discouraged by continually having the door slammed in his face when he tried to get out of the box being sealed by Edgar Prado throughout the million-dollar nine furlongs?

Was he simply a short, tired horse when he began to shortening stride with about three-sixteenths of a mile remaining, fading back to sixth without being abused by Victor Espinoza in the final sixteenth?

Was there any discomfort from the hoof that required mending after he grabbed himself in the Belmont Stakes?

Is his pedigree beginning to catch up with him after a tough classics campaign, or was he an early developer conditioned by racing and now is starting to go the other way.

My hope is that it’s A and B, not C and D, while all of the above remains in the mix. Since he appeared to be traveling well and comfortably throughout, a dislike for the surface is an unlikely culprit.

"The other riders, they worried about me, they didn't worry about the one in the front,” said Espinoza. “I knew I was in trouble in the first turn. They were like blocking in front of me. Sometimes the other ones don't ride to win, they ride to beat horses."


Written by John Pricci | Comments (5)
Parx Getting the California Chrome Treatment

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, September 16, 2014----The publicists have been touting this Saturday as the most important day in Pennsylvania racing history, and the truth is that the notion is more fact than fiction.

After all, the Kentucky Derby winner is coming to town to run for a lot of money in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby that on paper is more than a bridge to the Breeders' Cup Classic.

And a Derby winner has never will have run in this event until four days hence. Further, it will be a good spot to find out whether the California Chrome of fall is the same vintage as the California Chrome of spring.

What do you think?


Written by John Pricci | Comments (6)

Pa. Derby no walkover for California Chrome

Bob Baffert's decision to ship Bayern to the Pennsylvania Derby changes what loomed to be a richly paid workout for California Chrome into a real race. The Kentucky Derby winner will still be odds-on but the possibility of Bayern getting loose on an easy lead as he did in the Haskell adds intrigue to this weekend's most important race.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (20)
3-year-olds in Horse of Year race for a change

Three-year-old males dominate the racing scene most of the year but recently they have fallen off the radar screen when Horse of the Year has been at stake in the fall. It has been seven years since Curlin won the top prize as a 3-year-old. Shared Belief and California Chrome appear poised to break that streak.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (18)

Marc Lawrence College and Pro Upsets, Sept. 19-22

Georgia Tech over VA TECH by 8

We’re going to put both feet in as our version of the ‘Hokie-Pokie’ has the revenge-minded Yellow Jackets (lost 17-10 last season in Atlanta as 6.5-point favorites) putting a sting on Beamer’s boys. We’re not sure if the Hokies are over the sting the Pirates handed them last week but it really doesn’t matter as the Techsters from Virginia have been a good dog/bad favorite proposition of late. Upset wins at Ohio State, Miami and Georgia Tech the past two seasons have been tainted by a recent 4-13-1 ATS mark as chalk, including 0-5 ATS the last fi ve. It also doesn’t help that the Hokies are just 1-3 ATS in conference home games of a SU home loss and 2-4 ‘ITS’ since the end of last season. The SMART BOX also attaches itself to the rushing juggernaut known as Georgia Tech as it fades the host in a damaging Game Four spot. As does recent history, which shows the series visitor checking in with a spotless 4-0 ATS log since 2010. So with the Square, series history and the revenge factor all on our side, there’s really not much more needed to ‘shake it all about’ and back a Ramblin’ Wreck squad that showed some moxie last week after blowing a 25-point lead before coming back to defeat Georgia Southern. But it sure doesn’t hurt having The Clincher: Paul Johnson is 17-2 ATS as a dog in his career in games versus an opponent off a SU loss.


Written by Marc Lawrence | Comments (0)
Marc Lawrence College and Pro Upsets, Sept 11--15

TEXAS STATE over Navy by 3

We’ll gun for our third straight winning Upset Game by backing a veteran head coach who knows his way around today’s role. Not only is Texas State’s Dennis Franchione 4-1 ATS versus military schools, he’s also on an impressive 19-6 ATS run as a dog versus foes off a SUATS win – including 6-0 ATS in non-conference clashes! If you’re a fan of the forward pass, you may as well switch to another channel: Ken Niumatalolo’s land-loving Swabbies have rushed for 857 combined yards in the season’s first two contests while TSU rambled for 378 overland yards in last week’s 65-0 walkover win against creampuff Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Translation? Expect to see a ton of rushing yards and a shortened game clock. Navy brings a not-so-seaworthy 0-6 ATS log as a double-digit favorite versus a foe off a SU win into the port of San Marcos today. And a glance at page 3 tells us the visitors have fallen out of favor with our very own SMART BOX, which usually spells big trouble for the offender. With assistance from the Capable Cube, we’re off and running with the Bobcats. And if that’s not enough, there is always The Clincher: Since 1991, there have been just seven teams to open the season on a neutral field and then go on the road in their next two contests. All seven teams lost straight-up in Game Three, while going 0-5 SUATS in lined matchups.

West Virginia over MARYLAND by 4

We’re not exactly sure what goes on at the West Virginia state fair but it’s a good bet that the kissin’ cousins booth is the most popular. It’s a better bet that the Terrapins won’t post a second straight victory after committing six turnovers. Yes, Maryland turned over the ball six times last week against USF and somehow left Tampa with a SU win. That won’t happen today – not with the Mountaineers looking to avenge a 37-0 whitewashing they suffered last year in Baltimore. And not with the Terps now 1-7 ATS at home versus an opponent with revenge and 1-6 ATS their last seven as home chalk. We expect QB Clint Trickett (720 passing yards) and a vastly-improved WVU offense to make amends for last season’s beating and improve to 8-1 SU overall in the series and 4-0 SU in College Park since 2004. So before this long-running rivalry disappears (the series ends in 2017 with Maryland now in the Big 10 and WVU deeply entrenched in the Big 12), step right up and place your bet (i.e. grab the points) before they kiss this rivalry good-bye.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)

When Smarty Jones Shook the Earth

Until last weekend when the latest Kentucky Derby winner, California Chrome, shipped into Parx Racing, it had been a very long time since the old Philadelphia Park stepped onto the national Thoroughbred bred. The first horse to pull off that feat was a wonderful chestnut who got his start at the Bensalem Pa. track a decade ago, 2003 to be precise, when he began his career in the hometown of his owners, Roy and Pat Chapman, and his trainer, John Servis, who inherited the training of the colt by happenstance via tragedy. The saga of Smarty Jones, from his career debut to his disappointing and controversial loss as he attempted to complete his Triple Crown quest, has been revisited by HRI contributor Brendan O'Meara and will appear here exclusively for the next six days. If you're unfamiliar with the story of this equine Rocky, you're in for a treat.--John Pricci, executive editor

Part 1

Bob Camac was a life-long horseman, the kind that thought 5 a.m. was sleeping in. In his sixty-one years on the planet he had memories of four Triple Crown winners—horses that won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed. Nobody gets into training horses thinking they’ll win the Triple Crown, but it’s always a dream with every new crop of horses. Like a dimictic lake in spring, horse racing renews itself every year.

Just as other successful horsemen do, Camac went to the horse sales, advised his clients, saddled his horses, and won horse races. He studied pedigrees and crafted recipes for success. And when it came to bloodstock, he was a wicked alchemist.

Camac had a handful of great horses over the years, but never the big horse—the runner that brings notoriety and fame, the one that makes all those early mornings worthwhile. Until then, he had to keep elevating his stock from bad into good, from good into great. On race day, he’d report to the paddock sporting his classic Johnny Unitas flattop and aviator sunglasses above a tan suit, replete with white shirt and tie.

Over the years, Camac was supported by a series of loyal clients like the Chapmans, Roy and Patricia “Pat” Chapman. For them, Philadelphia Park was home.

After being diagnosed with emphysema, Roy was confined to a wheelchair. Life compensated by supplying Pat with a boundless energy for life. Lou Grant would say she had spunk. The Chapmans were hopelessly in love, and horses were just one of their shared passions.

The Chapmans were blue collar in the way that Kentucky is blue blood. Camac advised them on the type of horses to buy and the horses to which they should be bred. They owned several broodmares that lived at their Someday Farm and Camac found a good match for I’ll Get Along, figuring that he’d breed her to the swift miler Elusive Quality. Now that might yield a horse worth racing. Breeding is part science, part witchcraft but mostly luck, and Camac was mad scientist enough to make it all work.

From this pairing, a small, chestnut colt was born and Pat named him Smarty Jones, recalling her mother’s nickname. Smarty grew alongside his mother and wasn’t anything special at first, just a cute, twerpy foal; all knees and with the kind of energy that enabled him to buck in the paddock as if he had pogo-sticks for legs. Camac just watched him, let him develop, and looked forward to training him one day; Someday, just like the farm.


Written by Brendan O'Meara | Comments (0)
The Triple Crown Strikes Back

The new year is fast approaching, as they always do, faster with every year. We are riding a turbulent ascent toward May 3rd. This is the second year of the Kentucky Derby Points System. Hard to believe it’s only the second year of this system, controversial as it was and is.

Add to that the New York Racing Association bumped the purse to the Belmont Stakes 50 percent to $1.5 million. An argument can be made that the Triple Crown races are so prestigious that they need no purse increase. Twenty horses will start the Kentucky Derby if they were running for nothing more than two free movie passes.

As it stands, the Derby sits at $2 million, the Preakness at $1.5 million and the Belmont at $1.5 million. That’s all well and good. These three races in five weeks are an ideal narrative building window, or the continuation thereof.

The Triple Crown, in essence, is the middle movie in a blockbuster trilogy. It leaves us with the most uncertainty and, by the end, leaves us gripping the couch cushions saying, “Darth Vadar was once capable of intercourse!”


Written by Brendan O'Meara | Comments (6)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Gulfstream Today 9.20

Pletcher Arrives And Wins With First Starter
Sunday's Rainbow 6 Pool $50,000

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The Todd Pletcher stable returned to Gulfstream Saturday with its first entrant of the season, picking up just where it left off – with a win.




Sep 21 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Ol Donyo Leads 1-2-3 Wolfson Finish in Musical Romance Stakes

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Trainer Marty Wolfson enjoyed a black-type day Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where he saddled the first three finishers, including victorious Ol Donyo, in the $75,000 Musical Romance Stakes.




Sep 21 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Dramatic run propels Artemis Agrotera to victory in Gallant Bloom

ELMONT, N.Y. - In her four previous wins, Artemis Agrotera had never raced more than 1 ½ lengths off the pace. On Saturday at Belmont Park, the 3-year-old made up a 9 ½-length deficit to win the Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap for fillies and mares by a head over La Verdad.




Sep 21 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Belmont Park Notes: September 20

• Zivo, Last Gunfighter, Real Solution, Stephanie's Kitten, and Alterite turn in final TVG Super Saturday breezes for Brown
• Wicked Strong solid in six-furlong work for G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup
• Moreno breezes five furlongs in 1:03.31 in final work before Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup

Sep 21 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
THANK YOU MARYLOU ROLLS TO 6 ½-LENGTH DOGWOOD WIN

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014) - Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Thank You Marylou commenced a winning move on the turn for home, grabbed the lead at the quarter pole and widened her advantage down the stretch to easily win Saturday's 39th running of the $112,000 Dogwood (Grade III) at Churchill Downs…


Sep 21 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
GULFSTREAM TODAY - 9.19

Doors Slated to Open at Silks Simulcast Facility at 10:30 a.m. Saturday
Gulfstream Stars, Pennsylvania Derby, Featured in Parx Simulcast Card
Prado Set for Sunday Return to Gulfstream with Four Mounts
Saturday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Pool Guaranteed at $50,000




Sep 20 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Pair of New York-bred juvenile stakes highlight Sunday card

ELMONT, N.Y. - Sunday's card at Belmont Park will be highlighted by a pair of New York-bred juvenile stakes races - the $150,000 Bertram F. Bongard and $150,000 Joseph A. Gimma - which will both be contested at seven furlongs on the main track, and serve as a prelude for the Sleepy Hollow and Maid of…


Sep 20 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Artemis Agrotera hunting for more in G2 Gallant Bloom

ELMONT, N.Y. - Artemis Agrotera, a dominant winner against Grade 1 competition in her most recent start, heads a group of six filly and mare sprinters in the Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap on Saturday at Belmont Park.




Sep 20 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
GRADE III DOGWOOD

FIFTYSHADESOFGOLD MADE 2-1 FAVORITE FOR SATURDAY’S GRADE III DOGWOOD

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014) – Fiftyshadesofgold, the winner of the $200,725 Eight Belles Presented by TwinSpires.com (Grade III) on Kentucky Oaks Day, has been made the 2-1 morning line favorite in a…


Sep 20 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
Gulfstream Park News & Notes - 9/17

Undefeated Atreides Breezes Easy Half for Likely Run in Indiana Derby
Ohio Derby Winner East Hall Also Probable for Indiana Derby
Wildcat Red Departs to Remington for Run in Oklahoma Derby

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Stonestreet Stables’ Atreides breezed a half-mile in 50.63…


Sep 17 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
GULFSTREAM TODAY 9.14

20-Cent Rainbow 6 Survives A Close Call on Sunday’s Card
Thursday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Pool Guaranteed at $50,000

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 survived a close call Sunday at Gulfstream Park, where any one of eight horses in the 11th race could have taken down…


Sep 15 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Ashley T. Cole (NYB) Quotes

Christophe Clement, winning trainer of Lubash (No. 3): "He's a sound horse and he tries very hard. Junior [Alvarado] has a good relationship with the horse; he knows him inside out. This is fun. This is a very good group of New York-bred turf horses. King Kreesa and Kharafa are always tough."


Sep 14 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)