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
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

Saratoga Live is a Grade 1 telecast

Saratoga Live, which is available in 75 million homes every racing day at the Spa, should be the model for racing telecasts. It's fast paced and informative and never condescending or frivolous. The hosts know their stuff and communicate it well. This weekend the show will be all over the Jim Dandy showdown between Derby champion Always Dreaming and Preakness upsetter Cloud Computing and the Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (4)
Your first tip of the Saratoga season

Handicapping books and tout sheets abound at Saratoga. The one that stands out for me is the 'Saratoga Handicapper.' It doesn't attempt to pick winners but gives a player useful information about trainers' historical trends at the Spa, which can be used to come up with not-so-obvious winners and help eliminate heavily played horses who don't fall into a winning pattern. In another matter, it would be great if Songbird's connections give her the opportunity to do the one thing she hasn't done, which other great fillies have, take on the boys and beat them.



Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (13)

Cross-Country Notes From Tracktown, USA

HRI is delighted to have an old friend visit, however briefly

For a time, Saratoga was as close as eight furlongs away, and as far away as New Jersey, North Carolina and Washington D.C.

As the meet proceeds into its 149th season, it’s farther away than ever. And that sorta’ bums me out.

But here’s the thing: I didn’t think it ever would!

Despite the tweets, YouTube HD videos of every race, it could never replace putting on a pair of slacks, a button-down shirt, tie and blazer and rubbing shoulders in the paddock with Lukas, Rice, Zito, as if it were 2008 again, and this rookie named Chad Brown won the first race of that meet and be its leading trainer for the next 29 minutes.

Eight years later and he was the record holding winner of 40 races, supplanting Todd Pletcher in a Saratogian Game of Thrones.

But all this is in the recent past. I live in Eugene, Oregon, nicknamed Tracktown for Nike, renown for Steve Prefontaine and the Olympic Track and Field Trials.

Having lived in Saratoga Springs, that nickname makes me laugh now.


Written by Brendan O'Meara | Comments (3)
Smarty’s Belmont Controversy: The Aftermath, Part V

Smarty Jones’ bid at the Triple Crown ended just a length short. Years later, the memory remains, and so too does Smarty’s resonant effect on the world of horse racing.

Four years later Big Brown was a live threat to win the Triple Crown. The memory of Smarty’s run was still fresh in everyone’s mind. He was the last horse that had a chance to do it.

Pat Forde, an ESPN.com senior writer then, wrote a piece titled “Ganging up on favorite isn’t unimaginable at Belmont.”

The idea is sinister. It’s sporting sacrilege. But it’s a question that needs to be asked.

Would someone actually enter the Belmont Stakes with the intention of making massive favorite Big Brown lose the Triple Crown rather than with the intention of seeing his own horse win?


Written by Brendan O'Meara | Comments (5)

Saratoga Diary Prep: Spa Off to Blazing Start

Dear Diary,

I know you’re anxious to celebrate your 40th anniversary—yes, since 1977—but it can’t be a real diary unless you’re there. I will be, but first some matters on the home front that need my attention.

So, let’s call this the inaugural Simulcast Edition of Saratoga Diary, and that’s a good thing, too. No distractions like dinner plans, cocktails, visiting with old friends, favorite places. What remains is what happened between the fences.

I might not have been there but over 64,000 people were the first two days of Saratoga-148. Those are wow numbers, or as TJ was saying in the Gulfstream press box about Friday’s opening; that’s almost Travers-like.

Unlike Del Mar’s disappointing start, Saratoga opened on a roll with all-sources handle up 14% to $20.3 million on opening day. Saturday’s numbers were just as strong: $24.9 million from all sources.

Off the top, the headlines are: What’s with the main-track surface? Consecutive-years fast start for Kiaran McLaughlin. The Ortiz Brothers Show. And wait, there’s more:

Chad Brown, Bobblehead of Renown with a Saturday trifecta. Slow starts for Hall of Famers, Javier and Johnny V. The Greatness of Lady Eli. And what’s up with the Todd Two-Year-Olds?

FRIDAY JUL 21: Opening Day. It was clear from the jump, the “And They’re Off at Saratoga” for mid-level claimers, that the amount of kickback on the first turn was extraordinary. Can you say cuppy track?


Written by John Pricci | Comments (10)
Time for Del Mar and Saratoga Boutique Shopping--and Betting

Are your bags packed? Are you ready to go?

It’s here; boutique meet time, no more waiting. If you live out West, you need to go out and buy a new hat: Tomorrow, Wednesday, is opening day at Del Mar.

For the turf and surf venue, it will be a season like no other. First, they get to feature the Horse of the World on its opening Saturday in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap. Of course, that horse is the planet traveling Arrogate.

The San Diego is, of course, the bridge race to the next month’s G1 Pacific Classic. But what makes Del Mar 2017 so special is that it will host its first ever Breeders’ Cup event on November’s first Saturday.

But if you live east of the Mississippi, the world’s best extended race meet, the one held in Saratoga Springs in upstate New York, begins its storied session on Friday.

Indeed, it’s the time of year in New York when a Scribner gets to reprise that wonderful line written by the late, great Red Smith. “Take the Northway to Exit 14, turn right, and go back a hundred years.”


Written by John Pricci | Comments (19)

Vox Populi on Racing Issues; Saturday’s Big Horses Run Big

Taking the pulse of racing’s audience, a recent Paulick Report poll revealed some interesting results about how the sport’s practitioners and audience—horsemen and horseplayers—view racing’s most dominant issues.

Given the amount of advertising and the kind of promotion that supports the PR site, we assume that the largest segment of its audience are horsemen, the breeders, owners and trainers who put on the show. The results were at once predictable and surprising.

Judged least important by 10% of the responders is concern about competition from other forms of gambling. This category probably elicited a good portion of response from bettors who could care less about casinos, the occasional sports bet notwithstanding.

The next classification--converting casual fans into bettors--produced the first surprising result. If HorseRaceInsider is any measure, then 10% is a low figure. Everyone has an opinion about how to best market the game: It’s the HRI Faithful’s favorite pastime.

Racing needs more of an online presence, for one thing; more television for another; better education and greater social media exposure. Everybody even has an idea about what the game itself is; the old sport vs. gambling vehicle argument.

In our view, it would be unfair to say that the industry has not made some strides in the promotional arena. Of course, it can be made better. If I knew what it was I’d write it and declare myself a genius, but only the devil has all those details.



Written by John Pricci | Comments (21)
The Fourth of July and the Horse: An American Metaphor

Today is Independence Day, a time when we celebrate America’s existence as both a sovereign country and an ideal. And I am thinking about what I always think about; horses, the animals that made America great.

This recollection is different, way different I think because it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to look over the land and recognize it as the one most of us old horseplayers grew up in.

I’m thinking about the horses that still run wild and free out west and how their existence in under attack in modern day America. I think about those equines that helped conquer the west, so that our borders may extend from sea to shining sea.

I’m thinking about the horses who helped us win wars, including wars of our own choosing because of the immorality of slavery, a way of life in half the country, should be no more.

And I’m thinking about a spirited rider-less steed, the iconic Black Jack, who led the procession for an assassinated President who reminded us that “this nation was founded on the principle that all men are created equal.”

And that “the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” It just doesn’t get more American than that.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (12)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Lady Eli returns to Saratoga winner’s circle in G1 Diana finish

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Sheep Pond Partners' Lady Eli produced another memorable effort at historic Saratoga Race Course, running down Quidura in the final strides to win the 79th running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up on Saturday.

Lady Eli outlasted…


Jul 23 | Categories: Saratoga, |
Sunday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Swells to $321,979

Gunnevera Fires Another Bullet in Gulfstream Park West Work
Vasquez Rides Four Consecutive Winners

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved for the 14h straight racing day at Gulfstream Park Saturday, leaving a $321,979.03 carryover jackpot for Sunday’s…


Jul 23 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Gulfstream Park - Thursday Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Stands at $251,865

Silks Open Wednesday for Full-Card Simulcasting
Jaramillo, Zayas Both Visit Winner’s Circle Three Times

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved for the 11th straight racing day at Gulfstream Park Sunday, producing a $251,865.44 carryover jackpot…


Jul 18 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Top Australian Horse Racing Coming Up in 2017

Australian Horse Racing: a National Pastime

Australia’s oldest sporting activity is horse racing. Since the early days of this former British colony, racing has been enjoyed by people from all walks of life. Today Australia boasts over 400 tracks –more than any other nation.



Jul 15 | Categories: | Comments (0)
Dancer Memorial next for award-winning Walner

If Walner’s six rivals last week felt as though they were run over when the returning Dan Patch Award winner made his seasonal debut with a 7-1/2 length victory in 1:51.1, it’s no wonder.

“You sit behind him and it feels like you’re driving a Corvette with a Mack truck engine,”…


Jul 13 | Categories: U.S. Trotting Assn., |
Multiple Stakes Winners Among $100,000 Stormy Blues Nominees

Richest Race of Laurel Summer One of Three Turf Stakes Saturday July 15
G3 Pimlico Special Winner Shaman Ghost Returns Saturday at Belmont

LAUREL, MD – Multiple turf stakes winner Morticia and Madam Dancealot, a Group 3 grass winner in England last fall, are among 10…


Jul 7 | Categories: Laurel, |
Belmont Park Notes 7/7

Maturing Seymourdini eyes G1 Forego at the Spa; Matt King Coal ready for Saturday's G2 Suburban
• Unified, Shaman Ghost all set for Stars & Stripes assignments
• Versatile Called To The Bar fully stocked for G1 Belmont Derby
• Apple Betty, Summersault square off in River…


Jul 7 | Categories: Belmont Park, |
Tyler Gaffalione Rides Track Record-Equaling Seven Winners

Rising Star Shares Record with Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey
Adorable Miss Makes Victorious Return in $100,000 Martha Washington
General McCooby Registers Upset in $100,000 Not Surprising Stakes


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Jockey Tyler Gaffalione celebrated the Fourth…


Jul 6 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Strong field takes shape for G1 Belmont Derby Invitational

ELMONT, N.Y. - A field of 11 will go to the gate for a strongly competitive edition of the Grade 1, $1.2 million Belmont Derby Invitational at 1¼ miles on the inner turf as the main event on Saturday's Stars & Stripes Racing Festival program at Belmont Park.

Amerman Racing's Oscar…


Jul 6 | Categories: Belmont Park, |
Florida Sire Stakes Prospect Florida Fuego Debuts Impressively

Three Rules, Delta Bluesman, Dearest Tune Up for Summit of Speed
Multiple Graded-Stakes Winner Gunnevera Breezes Half-Mile
Sunday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Grow to $47,502

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – e Five Racing’s Florida Fuego stamped herself as a hot prospect for…


Jun 25 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Phlash Phelps Flashes Championship Form in $75,000 Mister Diz

26-Time Stakes Winner Ben’s Cat Fades to Ninth in Six-Furlong Turf Sprint
Daylight Ahead Determined Winner of $75,000 Jameela
World-Class Turf Course Serves Up Six Stakes Worth $450,000

LAUREL, MD – Hillwood Stables’ Phlash Phelps, a two-time Maryland-bred…


Jun 25 | Categories: Laurel, |
Sunday’s Super Hi 5 Carryover $82,000

Saturday’s Rainbow 6 Mandatory Payout Returns $26,000

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – A victory by longshot Mystic Sky in Saturday’s $100,000 Soldier’s Dancer at Gulfstream Park triggered a Super Hi 5 carryover Sunday of $82,263.53 and a 20-cent Rainbow 6 payout of $26,761.18.

Jun 17 | Categories: Gulfstream, |