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

When It Comes to Drug Enforcement, Politics Prevail

Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, told horseracing regulators at the recent 2017 ARCI Conference on Integrity and Equine Welfare that the United States Anti-Doping Agency should bid on future drug-testing contracts.

In other words, if the Thoroughbred industry wants to get serious about getting a trusted, outside agency to monitor the use of medication, legal and otherwise, and to what extent violations exist, that agency--in this case the USADA--must pay for the privilege?

In many of the 38 states where parimutuel wagering on horses is sanctioned, the answer to testing has been to opt for the lowest cost. In the majority of cases, the industry has gotten what it paid for.

But is this the approach racing really wants to take, hire testing labs based on the lowest-cost bids? If the industry insists on that, how seriously can we believe their goal is a truly level playing field for all?

Not only do the leaders of ARCI and racing commissions throughout the US permit drug use, the penalties it enacts against violators often are far too lenient. Unless, of course, it has political points to score or agendas to fill.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (16)
Grade 2 Wood Puts On a Grade 1 Show

Just when you think you have this game figured out, it throws something at you that you least expect.

As all know by now, the American Graded Stakes Committee last year downgraded Aqueduct’s premier race for three-year-olds, the Wood Memorial, from Grade 1 to Grade 2.

Since grading stakes began in 1974, the Wood has been a Grade 1 and the Grade 2 designation does not sit well with the majority of racetrack lifers.

Eleven Wood winners have won the Derby and four have won the Triple Crown. However, what have you done for me lately was the logic demanded by the AGSC logarithm.

Since Fusaichi Pegasus won the Wood and Kentucky Derby in 2000, Wood winners went 0-for-30 in Kentucky. Fourteen years have passed since Funny Cide finished second in the Wood and won in Louisville.

The Wood Memorial did not appear to be the strongest of three stakes for three-year-old run Saturday but Wood winning Irish War Cry demonstrated he was by far the strongest victor on Super Saturday.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (22)

Decoupling almost a done deal in Florida

The Florida legislature has worked out a compromise that would allow Calder Race Course (now Gulfstream West), Hialeah Park's quarterhorse operation, area greyhound tracks, jai alai frontons and Isle of Capri's harness racing to cease their pari-mutuels while maintaining their limited casinos and card rooms. If and when this bill is finalized and all the components realized, Gulfstream Park will be the only pari-mutuel operation in South Florida.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (1)
Kentucky Derby points system gets it right

The Kentucky Derby qualifying system took some hits in its first few seasons. Arguably, it got it almost perfectly right this year. When the gate is loaded on May 6, as many as 16 or 17 starters of the 20 starters will have wins in points-worthy prep races. Still, there is room for minor tweaking. The 10-point races early in the new year need to be at least doubled in value. There is no stronger argument for this than the fact that the first three finishers in the Holy Bull--Irish War Cry, Gunnevera and Classic Empire--are likely to be among the top four or five betting favorites in Louisville.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (12)

Racing Around the Weekend

SoCal shippers had themselves a day Saturday, as did the resurgent Hall of Famer nominee, Javier Castellano.

Ironic, too, that the only mention of California horses on the national stage this year has been how disappointing Golden State three-year-olds have been this season, ill-fated Mastery notwithstanding.

But it’s sophomoric to count them out of Kentucky Derby mix quite yet; more on that later.

As for senior Californian equines, Itsintheday carried the day, virtually doing the same thing in Keeneland's Elkhorn field that he did to Left Coast marathoners in the San Luis Rey last month: He held off the deep closers from mid-stretch to wire for a hard-fought victory.

It was the second straight Grade 2 title for the team of Jeff Mullins and Tyler Baze.

Mullins said afterward that he wasn’t sure if there is more distance left in the five-year-old’s tank, which may explain why he didn’t stay home for a run in the 1-3/4 mile San Juan Capistrano, even if the latter-day version is somewhat diminished.

It’s impossible to conjure up the ‘San Juan’ without thinking of legendary Hall of Famer Charlie Whittingham, who won 14 of these marathons: Harvey Pack always said that they started the race, ran round and round, and stopped it when a Whittingham horse got to the front.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (9)
Last Stops on Triple Crown Road Saturday

The G3 Lexington Stakes portion of Tote Busters Down n' Dirty Pick 4 on Saturday's program at Keeneland courtesy of


1 - *RESILIENCY (6-1) PER: 83
Up to added distance perfectly, stoutly bred, Florent re-rides, pole, purposeful works since latest, big test here

Class relief G2 LA Derby, mini-turnback lends conditioning, 2-for-2 at trip, 3-for-5 since Lasix, returns w/ short rest

4 – ****NO DOZING (4-1) PER: 87
Graded placed, class relief, surprise early speed latest, switch to Rosario, 5F B 4th fastest 33 peers week of 4-10, no excuses today

5 – ***TIME TO TRAVEL (4-1) PER: 91 (7F)
Impressive maiden sprint win at GP Apr. 1, kin to stakes winner, bred for added trip, Edgar sticks, fastest figure LR

10 – ****WEST COAST (3-1) PER: 87
Personal trip note from 3/12: “At first reluctant to go by entering stretch, greenly, pinned ears and rallied, striding out @ finish, out-well, purposefully asked to gallop out as if training race…” BB shooting bullets

Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)

The State of Racing’s Union: It Is What It Has Become

As the 143rd Kentucky Derby looms, the state of the game is teetering, fighting to remain popular with even with its staunchest allies while simultaneously efforting to remain relevant to a much wider audience. Like world events, these are worrisome times.

How troublesome? Well, it’s so bothersome that no less than one of the world’s most brilliant comic minds and huge racing fan, Mel Brooks, took to Twitter for the purpose of castigating the Los Angeles Times for “eliminating daily coverage of horse racing.”

At issue is the recently jettisoned daily listing of entries and results. Brooks’ tweet was enough to elicit a comment from his long-time friend and collegial comic genius, Carl Reiner, who replied “anything that upsets my friend Mel upsets me.”

Lamentably, they are not alone, and not everything can be explained away with kneejerk retorts that it’s simply a sign of the times--that encapsulated agate of entries and results has gone the way of classified ads and stock listings.

While comprehensive racing data lends itself well to the endless boundaries of cyberspace, as long as mainstream media and journalistic standards exist, I refuse to acknowledge that mesmerized smartphone habitués can’t learn to appreciate the feel of paper between their digits.

While the world moves forward--whatever your definition of “progress” is--Thoroughbred racing remains frozen in time. Tracks compete with each other at the bottom line and in the equine talent pool, a world that fosters competition, not cooperation.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (17)
New Wrinkle Meets Old School in Arkansas

The King Lives! Long Live the King!

It is only fitting that in this topsy-turvy runnerup to the 2017 Kentucky Derby everyone tethered to the Thoroughbred had to await until the last hurdle was cleared to find some clarity.

And we hope that we have seen the last of the impending-danger type drama that has accompanied this winter-racing season and that pre-Derby workouts, good and bad, all go without major incident.

There are no remaining prep races in the three weeks until reaching post time for Derby. But in the next two weekends, morning trials are needed to solidify what has been, to say the least, one of the more baffling playoffs season for three-year-olds ever.

Before examining the nuts and bolts of Saturday’s Arkansas Derby, a word about the team that surrounds the 2016 juvenile champion.

We’ve known trainer Mark Casse, the son of legendary horseman Norman Casse, for nearly four decades, when he first went out on his own with the Calumet horses, back in the day when they were festooned in the devil’s red and blue.

At my age, this gives me the right to say I’m very proud of the work he’s done with Classic Empire, without throwing shade on any other horseman I know and respect as they slouch their way towards Louisville, efforting to win nothing less than “America’s Race.”

However the future of this sport plays out, that tradition will continue. Many eyes will fill 10 minutes to post when a country hears “that song,” as the jockeys refer to the Stephen Foster classic ode to days gone by.

It takes creativity and confidence to deal with the never-before-seen circumstances that arise in this most unusual of pastimes, this unusual way to make a living. It also takes balls.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (11)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Classic Rock Ready to Roll in Friday’s Roar Stakes

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Fully recovered from a virus that prevented him from running in the San Vicente Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Feb. 12, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s Classic Rock is ready to roll in Friday’s $75,000 Roar Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

The 3-year-old son of Maclean’s…

Apr 20 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Gulfstream Sets Record Championship Meet Handle of $867 Million

Highlights Include Arrogate Winning Inaugural Pegasus World Cup (G1)
Always Dreaming Wins 66th Florida Derby (G1)
Sano Saddles Gunnevera to Win Fountain of Youth
Claiming Crown Handles Record $11.115 Million
Eclipse Awards Return, California Chrome…

Apr 14 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
There Was No Stopping Wait in Sunday’s Feature

Son of Champion Wait a While Sprints 6F in 1:08.76
Rainbow 6 Hit for $90,631 Jackpot Payoff

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – There was no stopping Wait in Sunday’s featured optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park.

Arindel Farm’s…

Apr 10 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Sunday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Grows to $35,337

Jaramillo, Panici Each Ride Three Winners

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved for the third consecutive program Saturday at Gulfstream Park, leaving a $35,337.60 carryover jackpot for Sunday’s 10-race program.

Multiple tickets with all…

Apr 9 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets (G2) Quotes

Graham Motion, winning trainer of Irish War Cry (No. 7): "I think it's so good that Rajiv [Maragh] came to the barn and has been on him the last few mornings to see how he is. He's not a difficult horse. He's not a rank horse; he's a very classy horse. We both thought it was a good idea for Rajiv…

Apr 9 | Categories: Aqueduct, |
Quotes for the $1 Million Toyota Blue Grass (G2)

J. Paul Reddam (whose Reddam Racing is owner of 31-1 longshot winner Irap. He and trainer Doug O’Neill watched the race from Santa Anita.)
“(When the horses were coming down the stretch) We thought, ‘Oh this is looking good’ and then in the stretch when we saw he actually had a chance,…

Apr 9 | Categories: Keeneland, |
Keeneland Barn Notes April 4

Keeneland’s 15-day Spring Meet opens Friday and concludes Friday, April 28,
with racing on Wednesdays through Sundays. Post time for the first race each day
is 1:05 p.m. ET. Keeneland will be closed on Easter Sunday, April 16.


Apr 5 | Categories: Keeneland, |
Florida Derby News & Notes

Trio of $100,000 Stakes Complement Six Graded Events on Florida Derby Day
Healthy Modacious Tries Again in G2 Gulfstream Park Oaks
Breakfast at Gulfstream Kicks Off Busy Florida Derby Day

HALLANDALE, FL – In addition to the six graded stakes that highlight Florida…

Mar 31 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Gulfstream Today 3.29.17

Multi-Race Wager Guarantees Slated for Saturday’s Florida Derby Card
Rainbow 6-$2 Million; Late Pick 4-$750,000; Late Pick 5-$500,000
Thursday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Climbs to $1.445 Million

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Gulfstream Park has scheduled guaranteed…

Mar 29 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
$1 million Florida Derby (G1)

Post Position Draw Quotes

Trainer Antonio Sano (Gunnevera, Post 11, 9-5): “No problem. If my horse had speed, it would be a problem, but horse will be in back, so no problem. From the outside post, [Jockey Javier] Castellano can make his way to the inside and then…

Mar 29 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Sano Living a Dream with Gunnevera in Florida Derby

Multiple Graded-Stakes Winner Tabbed 9-5 Morning-Line Favorite
Field of 11 Entered in Saturday’s Historic $1 Million Triple Crown Prep
G1 Florida Derby Highlights Card with 9 Stakes Worth $2.45 Million

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Antonio Sano will saddle Gunnevera…

Mar 29 | Categories: Gulfstream, |

Saturday, March 25, 2017, Meydan Racecourse, Dubai: After missing the start and falling far behind, American champion Arrogate (USA) unleashed one of the most spectacular performances in the 22-year history of the Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline - and perhaps in all of racing worldwide…

Mar 26 | Categories: Emirates Racing Authority, |