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

The inevitable war for horses is heating up

NYRA announced during the past week an incentive plan to attract horses who winter in Arkansas and Florida. Shipping stipends will be available for those who come in early for the end of the Aqueduct spring meeting. In the case of Oaklawn horses, a bonus on top of purse money is being offered through the end of the Belmont summer session. This could draw horses who normally migrate to the Midwest and Southwest. In the case of the Florida tracks, it could have a negative impact on the final days of the Gulfstream and Tampa Bay Downs winter seasons. In another bonus gambit, NYRA will increase the purse of the Wood Memorial from $750K to $1 million if a Grade 1 winner is in the field. This appears to be a bid to get Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic to skip the Florida Derby in favor of NY's major Derby prep.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (8)
Racing ‘Moment of the Year’ is no contest

Gun Runner will be the star of the show on Eclipse Awards night, Jan. 25. But nothing the certain Horse of the Year did in 2017 came close to matching Arrogate's jaw-dropping rally from last to win the Dubai World Cup. It was not only a Moment of the Year but a Moment of Many Years. Meanwhile, on the West Coast, racing officials continue to embarrass themselves, this time allowing two ineligible horses, including the winner, to compete in the first race for horses from barns with fewer than 20 horses. The excuses offered were more lame than "the dog ate my homework."

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (16)

Marc Lawrence Playoff Upset, Jan 20-21

Philadelphia over Minnesota by 4

Shock and Skol. Safe to say, Minnesota should not be here. Not when the Vikings were 25 seconds and 75 yards away from elimination. Not after blowing a 17-0 halftime lead. And definitely not after trailing with 10 seconds left from their own 39-yard line! QB Case Keenum made one last play-call: Seventh Heaven. Somehow, miraculously, it worked and as a result they find themselves as 3-point favorites in the NFC championship game in Philly, looking to become the first team in NFL history to host a Super Bowl game with a win today. It’s quite a story, but so too is the Philadelphia saga, one we feel most are overlooking. And our database concurs, noting the Vikings are just 2-11 SU and 3-10 ATS on the playoff road since 1988. On the other side of the coin, though, is the fact that teams coming off a SU home underdog playoff win are just 1-16 SU and 2-15 ATS in follow-up games. But we can’t dismiss the fact that Minnesota has NEVER beaten Philadelphia in the playoffs, going 0-3 SUATS all-time dating back to 1980. Toss in the fact that No. 1 seeds are 28-12 SU in championship games since 1980, including 7-0 the last four years, and we’re ready to soar with the Eagles. After all, they literally shine at home under Doug Pederson, going 14-3 SU – the best home record in the NFL. In addition, they rank No. 1 in the NFL with a 197 point scoring differential at home, as well as having allowed just 241 points at the LINC, marking the fewest such points allowed over the same span. Then there is the ugliness of indoor teams playing outdoors during the playoffs with game time temperatures of 35 or fewer degrees, a bitter stat that has seen these temperature-controlled teams go just 4-24 SU (see Atlanta here last week). And we didn’t even mention that NFL playoff home dogs with an equal or better record are 19-6-1 ATS since 1980. Forget the Skol chant. Around these parts, it’s Fly Eagles Fly.

Written by Marc Lawrence | Comments (0)
Marc Lawrence NFL Playoff Upset

New Orleans Over Carolina by 1

Same-season rematches in the NFL playoffs aren’t rare. They just aren’t all that profitable (90-79-4 ATS since 1990). It’s noteworthy in this contest, though, as the Saints took the Panthers behind the woodshed twice this season. Still, Carolina is 5-2 SUATS as an underdog this season, and the Panthers are 4-0 SUATS in playoff games against foes coming off a loss. The problem is Superman (re: Cam Newton) has been overdosing on too much kryptonite of late as the black cats have been outgained in 5 of their last 6 games. In addition, Carolina finds itself in a similar role to Buffalo in that away teams in the NFL playoffs, following a season-ending away game, tend to struggle in opening-round games. That’s confi rmed by a dismal 22-55 SU and 24-48-4 ATS mark since 1980. The question is can the Saints, who are 6-1 SUATS versus .600 or greater opponents this season, take advantage as they, too, are stumbling at the finish line. Since its 8-game win streak from the end of September to late November, New Orleans is just 3-3 SU, as well as 2-4 ATS and ITS, in its last 6 games. Looking inside the stats in this game – as we like to do each week in the MIDWEEK ALERT – Carolina was outyarded by -35 net YPG during the second half of the season, while New Orleans was also outgained during the final six games of the campaign. With no major edges either way, we’ll lean to the double-avenging division dog with the better defense.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)

On Letting Santa Anita Be Santa Anita

LOS ANGELES, January 15, 2018--The last major racetrack executive with the authority and desire to reduce takeout -- and actually succeeded -- was New York Racing Association board chairman, Barry Schwartz, in 2001.

The Stronach Group Chief Operating Officer, Tim Ritvo, appeared to have the same objective for Santa Anita, until he found his path blocked by an obstacle known as the Thoroughbred Owners of California with its Interstate Horseracing Act-enabled veto power.

Former NYRA and Hong Kong Jockey Club executive, Bill Nader, recently proposed lowering takeout by all major tracks, but collectively and cooperatively rather than independently:

"... There has been a steady shift from single-race to multi-race (horizontal) bet types such as Pick 3, 4, and 5, where the takeout is applied only one time and the payment to the industry (purses and tracks) is minimized as the wagering dollars can be tied up over multiple races.

“... Takeout reduction should be in the single-race (vertical) bet types, ... allow[ing] the betting dollar to turn over with greater frequency ... The key is … bringing greater liquidity and churn to the single-race pools through … lower takeout as it relates to field size.

“Win, place, show, and exacta wagering has to become more attractive. The major tracks can come together and agree, for example, that on field sizes of six or less, takeout on these bet types is 14%. Fields of seven and eight, takeout is 15%. Fields of nine or higher, takeout is 17%. ...

“The burden of taking this leap of faith … should not rest on one track. It needs to be a shared vision."

Ritvo may not share Nader’s view, considering that much of Gulfstream’s success is driven by its 20-cent-minimum Rainbow Pick 6, which also fuels additional wagers within the sequence of races.

But even if Ritvo shared Nader’s vision, the TOC presents a huge impediment that other horsemen’s groups in do not. The TOC apparently doesn’t believe in Ritvo’s concerns for Santa Anita’s continued survival as a racetrack after Frank Stronach leaves the scene.

Written by Indulto | Comments (20)
Prepping for Pegasus: Win, Lose or Post-Draw

LOS ANGELES, December 11, 2017—As I perused Santa Anita's recently released stakes schedule for its upcoming 2017-18 winter meet, one significant improvement jumped out at me:

The track will finally offer a handicap division race on opening day -- one of its three top attendance days, along with Santa Anita Handicap and Santa Anita Derby days.

It's never too soon to revive memories of racing's top competitors or to establish new rooting interests for subsequent stakes.

The vehicle will be the $300K G2 San Antonio Stakes which used to serve as a 9-furlong prep in February for the 10-furlong Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in March.

Shortened to 8.5 furlongs last year, the San Antonio will now trade places with the $200,000 G2 San Pasqual that formerly preceded it in January.

The primary reason for the switch appears to be this prep's new target event, one held 3,000 miles away at another Stronach Group facility: the $16-million G1 Pegasus World Cup 32 days later at Gulfstream Park.

Written by Indulto | Comments (7)

If At First You DO Succeed, Try, Try Again

Fortunately for The Stronach Group, they never seem to run out of carbon paper. Put another way, if you build it better, they will come.

Horsemen will come for sure, and horseplayers will follow, once they are assured they will be getting the best bang for their betting bucks: Big fields and big pools.

Like it or not, Gulfstream Park, based on a four-month long race meet, has become the envy of every major venue in America in search of an economically sustainable model.

Many may not agree but as of this minute, Gulfstream Park’s march toward continued financial security is inexorable and no other track with a sustained session even comes close. As of Saturday, January 6, its handle is ahead of last year’s record pace.

In all, $1.88 billion was bet through Gulfstream Park in 2017.

The term “Championship Meet” has rankled those who would look down their noses at a gateful of $7,500 claimers. But if that cheaper stock is running long on grass, bettors likely will invest more money on it than a six-horse listed stakes.

When reason prevails, there’s absolutely no motive for racetracks not to do both. It all depends on the attractiveness of adequate field size coupled with a popular betting menu.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (4)
2017 Eclipse Award Ballot a Truly Mixed Bag

All week we’ve been sharing about how difficult it was to determine who were the Top 10 horses, trainers and jockeys of the last 50 years. Eclipse Award voting this year was not as thought-provoking as the historical challenge, but I will say this:

To paraphrase Sheets creator and maven Len Ragozin: “Some Eclipse Categories Must Be Crazy.”

Of course, there were many predictable slam dunks as brilliance and dominating performances showed the way. However, some divisions were downright confounding.

I will explain as we move forward but here is what one ballot will look like come the voting deadline. (There’s a performance I’d like to see on this afternoon’s traditional Santa Anita prime winter opener, possibly affecting 2nd and 3rd on ballot). Now, the categories:

Written by John Pricci | Comments (9)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Agreement Represents Giant Step Forward in Florida Racing

Florida Sire Stakes Highlights Innovative $2.5 Million Deal

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – P.J. Campo calls the recently-signed agreement between Gulfstream Park, the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (FTBOA) and Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective…

Dec 22 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Watershed looking to end year on high note in Queens County

Green Gratto faces talented field in $100,000 Gravesend

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Godolphin Racing's Watershed will headline a competitive field of nine in the $125,000 Queens County for 3-year-olds and up, one of two stakes races on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack alongside the $100,000…

Dec 22 | Categories: Aqueduct, |


Citing the widespread use of drugs on yearlings and two years olds that may result in improper bone development and the recent use of horse auctions to launder money for the…

Dec 14 | Categories: Horse Racing, |
Forever Unbridled Holds Off Abel Tasman To Win Longines Distaff

DEL MAR, Calif. (Nov. 3, 2017) – Charles Fipke’s homebred Forever Unbridled ($9.40) swept to the lead coming off the far turn and then held off a late bid from Abel Tasman by a half-length to win the 34th running of the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) for fillies and mares…

Nov 4 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, |
Rainbow 6 Hit at Gulfstream West for $177,500

Sunday’s Late Pick 5 Carryover $19,900

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – Gulfstream Park West’s Rainbow 6 was hit Saturday afternoon for $177,521.

The 20-cent wager had not been hit for 19 consecutive programs before Geh Schnell ($11.20), one of three live tickets in…

Oct 29 | Categories: Gulfstream West, |



Oct 29 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, |


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017)
– Cooler temperatures and the leaves changing colors signify the return of live horse racing to the Louisville area as Churchill Downs, the historic home of the Kentucky Derby, readies to open its 128th Fall Meet on Sunday,…

Oct 28 | Categories: Churchill Downs, |
Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Reaches $113,131 for Thursday

Tapit Filly My Favorite Gift Impressive Debut Winner
Jockey Jaramillo Enjoys Four-Win Afternoon

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved for the 17th consecutive program Wednesday, growing the carryover jackpot to $113,131.66 for Thursday’s eight-race program.

Oct 26 | Categories: Gulfstream West, |
World Championships

2017 Race Order, Wagering Menu and Guaranteed Pools Announced for World Championships

The Breeders' Cup announced today the official order of races, and guaranteed multi-race wagering pools for the 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Friday, November 3 and Saturday, November…

Oct 26 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, |
Wednesday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Grows to $100,250

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot for Wednesday’s program at Gulfstream Park West swelled to $100,250.35 Sunday when the popular multi-race wager went unsolved for the 16th consecutive program.

Multiple tickets with six winners Sunday returned $9,834.

Oct 24 | Categories: Gulfstream West, |
Breeders Crown

Caviart Ally looks to rebound in Breeders Crown final

Darlinonthebeach 'coming into form'

After letting a lead slip away in her elimination, Caviart Ally will try and be a little less zealous and a lot more powerful down the stretch in Friday’s $500,000…

Oct 24 | Categories: U.S. Trotting Assn., |
Rainbow 6 Grows to $87,000 at Gulfstream West

Sunday’s First Race 1:15 P.M.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – Gulfstream Park West’s Rainbow 6 continues to grow, bringing Sunday’s carryover to $87,606.62.

Multiple tickets with six winners Saturday returned $4.406.20.

First race post for Sunday’s…

Oct 22 | Categories: Gulfstream West, |