HRI Featured Writers
HRI Featured Writers

Pricci’s Free Race Analysis

Whenever his daily work schedule permits, HorseRaceInsider executive editor John Pricci will analyze that day's feature race from a major thoroughbred-racing jurisdiction.

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.

Mark Berner
Mark has been a groom, clocker, handicapper, sportswriter, columnist and editor at various times throughout a career that has spanned more than three decades. His reporting and opinions on Thoroughbred racing can now be read on HRI in his "Inside New York" 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.

John Parisella
John Parisella has enjoyed a legendary career as a "horseman's horseman." At last count, he won 27 races with 27 different horses at 27 different tracks. His observations will appear bi-weekly, Mondays and Fridays in his "Parisella At the Races" 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

Can Dream With Empire Racing Club

I always wanted to own a racehorse. That opportunity came earlier this month when I bought into a partnership established by The New York Horsemens Association called the Empire Racing Club. The club was setup to attract new owners for a reasonable price of $500 per share, capped at 200 shares. ERC is a non-profit 501c7 and therefore there is no expectation of making a profit, making the experience real, as few owners actually make a profit. If the horse can earn, however, there is an expectation of getting back the original investment. Any earnings will go to NYTHA’s Take the Lead Foundation that cares for retired racehorses, a cause close to a horse lover’s heart.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (14)
Politics and Racing: Not a Good Look

By Mark Berner

Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) announced this week that they would introduce the Racehorse Doping Ban Act of 2019, which would establish consistent medication rules across the industry and strict doping penalties for horse races already governed by federal law.

“It is past time that Congress stop rewarding the horse racing industry for its inhumane doping violations with sweetheart gambling privileges and millions in casino slots subsidies,” said Udall in a press release.

But that point is rhetorical, an idle threat that racing would not get casino dollars. It is not part of any language expressed in the proposed bill.

The press release continued: “The U.S. industry has completely failed to self-regulate its doping and corruption abuses.” They paid for this study yet appear oblivious to the fact that a consortium of major racetracks have just proposed such self-regulation, even if it is to stay one step ahead of the feds.

The May 3rd grandstanding on Kentucky Derby eve also stated, “Legislation to ban doping in horseracing is the meaningful action we need to end the abuse of these iconic animals. Headlines around the country make it clear the future of this sport is in serious doubt, and this may be the last chance for meaningful reform—it’s time for industry leaders to take the blinders off.”

With all due respect, Senators, it is blinkers and not blinders. It may be blinders in politics, but we would all take you more seriously if you remained current with industry news and knew the terms used in racing.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (9)

The Preakness Story Begins in Florida

By John Pricci

HALLANDALE BEACH—Adages become old because they’re true: The best horse doesn’t always win the Derby but usually wins the Preakness is one. Here’s another: There’s no place like home.

Feeling a form of reflected pride Sunday morning because I spent Preakness Day at my home county racetrack, which very much was fitting considering the results of Preakness 144.

My first thought was for a 24-year-old third generation race rider, Tyler Gaffalione, born 20 minutes up the road from Gulfstream Park in Davie.

For those unaware, Davie is horse country, located square in the middle of an urban sprawl that is modern-day Broward County, specifically, situated between Hollywood and Plantation, my latter-day home.

Once again, the local racetrack and, specifically, the Florida racing community is where both “winners” of the 2019 Kentucky Derby and the Preakness hero either raced, trained or spent time here this winter.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (10)
Derby 145 Aftermath: What Bad Publicity?

By John Pricci

HALLANDALE BEACH--In the wake of the Maximum Security disqualification from first in Kentucky Derby 145, the chairman of an International Federation of Horseracing committee suggested that America’s foul adjudication process should be changed, more closely aligned with a process used worldwide.

That standard, known as Category 1, also has support from the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation, racing’s newly created think tank. That reasoning states that horses should be disqualified only if the stewards decide the impeded horse would've finished ahead of the horse who caused the interference.

Depending on interpretation of rules followed in 38 disparate racing jurisdictions, America adheres to Category Two standards, one that sustains objections if the guilty horse costs the impeded horse(s) an opportunity for a better placing.

The offending horse then is placed behind that runner(s), thus Maximum Security was placed 17th behind Long Range Toddy, severely impeded by the “veering out” Maximum Security and after significantly interfering with eighth finisher War of Will and 14th finisher Bodexpress.

Based on logic and ethics, HorseRaceInsider for years has championed the cause of uniform standards and punishment for any rule-breaking practitioner on the front-side, backside and between the fences of America’s racetracks.

The rest of the world may have everything else right, but not this issue.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (5)

Derby controversy could be best thing Preakness has going for it

By Tom Jicha

One of the weakest fields in memory will chase the second jewel of the Triple Crown. The first four finishers under the wire in Louisville are AWOL. The likely favorite, Improbable, has not won a race as a 3YO, War of Will, the colt at the center of the Derby debacle, has finished ninth and seventh (moved up to sixth) in his two most recent races. Non-Derby horses and Maryland hotshots have a weak record in the Preakness but the lesser quality of the field could open the way for streaking Alwaysmining to score a minor upset.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (15)
DQ is justifiable but still a terrible decision

By Tom Jicha

Racing's horrible year reached its nadir with the Kentucky Derby disqualification of Maximum Security. If you adhere to "a rule is a rule," it was justifiable. But if "a rule is a rule" were applied in every race, every day, there would be inquiries in almost every race and numerous DQ's every day. Given the import of the event and the conditions in which the race was run, Maximum Security should have been afforded some benefit of the doubt. As it is, we have arguably the most unworthy Derby winner in history and a Preakness that will not have any of the first three Derby finishers--four if you count Maximum Security.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (38)

15 DAYS for SAEZ: Questions Abound

By John Pricci and Mark Berner

In a robust ruling, the Kentucky stewards suspended jockey Luis Saez 15 days for failure to control his mount and make the proper effort to maintain a straight course in his ride aboard Maximum Security in Kentucky Derby 145.

As the entire nation is aware, the stewards based their decision on the fact that Maximum Security veered out dramatically causing direct interference with War of Will, which resulted in chain-reaction interference with both Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress.

The suspension is unusual in its severity. Normally, 15 days—delineated as “racing days,” which excludes traditional dark days—is reserved for occasions when the stewards believe that a rider was reckless in the handling of his mount, as to disregard the safety of competing horses and riders.

By comparison, Frankie Detorri got a one-month ban and a $20,000 fine for interference in the 2015 Melbourne Cup, Australia's biggest race, and last year William Buick got six-week suspension for rough riding in the Hong Kong Vase and a $20,000 fine from the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

The Kentucky stewards issued a statement saying that the suspension indeed was for "failure to control his mount and make the proper effort to maintain a straight course, thereby causing interference with several rivals that resulted in the disqualification of his mount."

By Commonwealth rule, disqualifications cannot be overturned by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission via the normal appeals process, a common occurrence in some jurisdictions. This authority is being challenged in litigation being brought by Gary and Mary West, owners of first-place finisher Maximum Security.

Saez, currently riding at Belmont Park, has a national presence at the highest levels of the sport. This year, for example, he lost out by one winner to Irad Ortiz Jr. which prevented him from winning a third straight riding title at the vaunted Gulfstream Park Championship Meet. Saez, 27-years-old on Sunday, is considered an elite rider, Jon Court’s opinion notwithstanding.

A film review of the incident took place in Kentucky on May 10 at which Saez was represented by counsel, but attorney Ann Oldfather was not allowed to address the stewards at the hearing. An administrative hearing—as Rick Dutrow learned over six years ago—is no guarantor of due process.

The Saez legal team is free to appeal the suspension in open court but very likely to no avail. Ms. Oldfather presented video evidence to the stewards that reportedly shows competing riders caused or contributed to the rough-house scenario. The stewards gave her no assurances they would even view the video according to a report.

So many questions arise, the majority unanswered and still lingering. And there's no guarantee they will be answered satisfactorily, if at all, to wit:

| Comments (27)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Seven Guaranteed Multi-Race Pools Offered Preakness Weekend

$2 Million Pick 4, $1 Million Late Pick 5 Pools Preakness Day

Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan Day Features Trio of $300,000 Pools

BALTIMORE – Bettors will have their choice of seven guaranteed multi-race wager pools at Pimlico Race Course on a weekend that…

May 16 | Categories: Preakness Stakes, |
Black-Eyed Susan (G2), Pimlico Special (G3) Highlight Stronach 5

$100,000 Guaranteed Pool, Free Past Performances

LAUREL, MD – Friday’s Stronach 5, featuring an industry-low 12 percent takeout, free past performances and a $100,000 guaranteed pool, will be highlighted by the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) and $300,000 Pimlico Special…

May 16 | Categories: Preakness Stakes, |
Improbable Favored in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes Morning Line

Baffert Shooting for Record 8th Win in Middle Jewel of Triple Crown

BALTIMORE, MD – WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International and Starlight Racing, principles in the ownership group of 2018 Triple Crown champion Justify, will once again be represented by a morning-line favorite…

May 15 | Categories: Preakness Stakes, |
Preakness Weekend Stakes Notes

Asmussen Poised to Win Trainer Bonus for Third Straight Year
Wentz Seeking Big Score in Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3)
Corrales: Everybody Deserves a Shot, Including Bobby G

BALTIMORE – The Maryland Jockey Club for the third straight year is offering $100,000 in…

May 14 | Categories: Preakness Stakes, |
Contenders for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes Arrive at Pimlico

BALTIMORE, MD – Robert Baker and William Mack’s Market King arrived at Pimlico Race Course midafternoon Tuesday for Saturday’s 144th Preakness Stakes following a 10-hour, 15-minute van ride that originated at Churchill Downs.

Market King, who finished 11th in the Blue Grass…

May 14 | Categories: Preakness Stakes, |
Preakness 144:  War of Will First to Arrive for Preakness Stakes

War of Will First to Arrive for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes

Improbable ‘Ready to Go’ for Middle Jewel of Triple Crown
Alwaysmining Representing Maryland Racing Well
Signalman’s Rookie Owner ‘Off the Charts Lucky’


May 14 | Categories: Preakness Stakes, |
Alwaysmining ‘Aggressive’ in Breeze for May 18 Preakness

Win Win Win Confirmed for Middle Jewel of Triple Crown
Laughing Fox ‘Cool’ and ‘Relaxed’ for Preakness Run

BALTIMORE, MD – Runnymede Racing LLC’s Alwaysmining breezed a half-mile at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. Friday morning in preparation for…

May 11 | Categories: Preakness Stakes, |
Black-Eyed Susan Day Notes

Black-Eyed Susan Day Notes

Las Setas Works Friday Morning at Laurel for Black-Eyed Susan (G2)
Jim McKay-Bound Tricks to Doo has Friday Breeze at Fair Hill
Walsh Bringing Sundaysatthebeach to Black-Eyed Susan; Maid in the Mist to Hilltop
Stall Hoping to Make Headlines…

May 11 | Categories: Laurel, |
Churchill Downs Barn Notes: Owendale, Signalman, Warrior’s Charge Breeze for Preakness


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, May 11, 2019)
– Preakness Stakes (Grade I) contenders Owendale, Signalman and Warrior’s Charge topped Saturday morning’s work tab at Churchill Downs as the trio put in their final…

May 11 | Categories: Preakness Stakes, |
Nominations Total 268 Horses for Preakness Stakes (G1) Undercard

Eight Stakes, Four Graded, Support Middle Jewel of Triple Crown

Catholic Boy Among 39 Nominees to $118th Maker’s Mark Dixie (G2)

Sophomores in Spotlight in Chick Lang (G3), Sir Barton, James Murphy

BALTIMORE – A total of 268 horses were nominated…

May 10 | Categories: Preakness Stakes, |
Lets Get Real a ‘10’ in maiden win

Winning a race is always special for an owner. But when Linda Schwaid and her husband Era “Ernie” Williams watched their homebred pacer Lets Get Real win his career debut this past Saturday at Freehold Raceway, it provided a rush that lasted for days.

That’s because Lets Get Real was…

May 10 | Categories: U.S. Trotting Assn., |
Improbable Imposing Prospect for May 18 Preakness Stakes

Signalman ‘Fresh’ for Middle Jewel of Triple Crown

BALTIMORE, MD – In the absence of Maximum Security, Country House and Code of Honor, beaten Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite Improbable is expected to vie for favoritism in the 144th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race…

May 7 | Categories: Preakness Stakes, |