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'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.

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

Moving Blue Grass Has Ripple Effect Beyond Keeneland

LOS ANGELES, CA, December 23, 2014—By moving both its Kentucky Derby qualifying races up one week, Keeneland not only has changed the dynamic of the horsemen's path to the Triple Crown, it also may have redefined the sixth most attractive racing day of the year for horseplayers.

While some are split as to whether Derby day or Breeders' Cup Saturday enjoys the widest audience in North American racing, few would disagree two days of Breeders' Cup and the three days of Triple Crown racing are the five most popular of the racing year; Belmont Day--with a Triple Crown on the line--commanding the most attention of all.

It may be that currently “Super Saturday” is the reigning sixth-ranked day of import, featuring championship preps at Belmont Park, Santa Anita, and Keeneland, 10 Grade 1s in all, two more than even Championship Saturday.

A case can be made for Florida Derby Day, the beginning of maximum-point qualifiers determining Kentucky Derby eligibility. The Louisiana Derby and the UAE Derby are also run that weekend, as is the Dubai World Cup, whose $10 million purse making that day's total purses the highest of the year.

Actually, racing at Meydan impacts U.S. racing not only because UAE Derby winners often compete in Kentucky, but because older American horses have had success in the world's richest race in the pre-synthetics era. The return of both races to dirt is likely to increase participation.

For 2014, 120 G1s were scheduled in the U.S., Canada, and Dubai. By moving the Bluegrass [and the G1 Madison] to the same day as the Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby, that Saturday's G1 total jumps to seven, ranking it third among 49 days of racing on which there is at least one Grade 1, 25 having at least two.

By giving Lexington performers three weeks to recover, Keeneland makes its prep more significant, even if its point total doesn't get adjusted by the Churchill Downs brain trust. This leaves room for the Illinois Derby's return to the Derby Trail--provided CDI is serious about its stated need to improve its image instead of continuing to punish Hawthorne.

As things stand, Oaklawn also would appear to benefit since all eyes on the “Trail” will focus more keenly on the Arkansas Derby, the final “win or place and you're in the big dance” event.

Despite decreasing foal crops, most Derby preps will continue filling to near capacity even when clustered closely together. The main problem, of course, is the perceived inability of today’s Thoroughbred to withstand the rigors of closely spaced races.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (1)
Make a Friend, Keep a Friend, Make Money

LOS ANGELES, December 7, 2014—Tom Jicha stimulated HRI readers recently when he challenged those commenting beneath a column asking contributors to provide ideas how racing can best market itself.

The usual ideas were recycled: emphasis on sport versus gambling game; age group targeting; handicapping tournaments, etc.; resulting in the usual lack of consensus.

The only old saw missing was "Get the women in and the men will follow."

Actually, tracks haven't done all that much to entice women to enter racing’s emporiums, much less bet on races. The chic Del Mar and Saratoga meets get more than their share of women to attend but their effect on handle is minimal at best.

On-track customers are overwhelmingly male and for many of them racing isn't just about gambling; it's about enjoying time with friends, sometimes with those that also have a life-long passion for the game.

But racing needn’t be limited to either making money or sharing familiar time; it should be about creating opportunities for acquiring new friends in uniquely entertaining circumstances.

Written by Indulto | Comments (15)

The 10 Most Fascinating People in Racing in 2014

Barbara Walters ended each year with a special naming her 10 Most Fascinating People of the past 12 months. She says this December's show was her last. So we'll pick up the concept...with a twist. Here is the first year-end recognition of the 10 Most Fascinating People in Racing.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (11)
Churchill puts up its version of Berlin Wall at Calder

The hits keep coming from Churchill Downs Inc. The latest outrage is erection of a fence to separate the section of the Calder backstretch it controls from that leased to The Stronach Group, owners of Gulfstream. Also, horsemen on the wrong side of the fence have been put on notice that they likely will have to vacate within two weeks. With area barns packed, many have no place to go.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (24)

Racing’s Man of the Year 2014: The Horseplayer

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., December 20, 12012—The story of the year in racing did not happen on any racetrack no matter how much one admires exploits of a dual classics winner, the improbable winning return from colic by a defending Horse of the Year, or the retirements of his and her legends of the game.

Instead, this distinct honor goes to the most unlikely individual or group of them all: the American horseplayer. Their voice was heard early and often in 2014; from a stewards stand at Gulfstream Park, to a board room at Churchill Downs, to the keeper of racing’s data in Lexington.

Horseplayers were able to shine a light on officiating by examining the adjudication process leading to disqualifications, to putting the hurt on a public company for raising the tax on wagers, to yesterday, stating that they are concerned as hell and are not going to accept inaccurate running times anymore.

Consider this: When was the last time racing identified a common problem, fashioned a consensus for problem solving, and took action, all within a 24-hour period? Don’t overthink this: To my knowledge, it’s never happened.

Until Saturday.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (8)
King for a Sunday

PLANTATION, FL., December 15, 2014—The first time I heard the expression “King of the World” in relation to betting on horses, it was uttered by Andy Beyer, my first Saratoga roommate back in the mid-1970s.

In the rented house on Lake Avenue I read the manuscript of his seminal work, “Picking Winners,” and later that meet Andy introduced me to his good friend, Steve Davidowitz, informing Steve “he has a good opinion.”

I think it was the proudest day of my young handicapping life.

It was a memorable Spa betting meet, too, but no thanks to the two of us. The author of that first Saratoga score was our roommate and another of Andy's friends, Maury Wolff, a.k.a. “the Kid.”

"The Kid" now happens to be the industry’s go-to guy on matters pertaining to the economics of betting, particularly as it relates to takeout rates, rebates, and the like.

One night that Saratoga summer, as the three of us read our Forms, sharing opinions and relevant pieces of information, Wolff suddenly leaped up from the couch, scrambling toward the pile of back Racing Forms that served as our handicapping library.

Handicapping four decades ago was not like it is today, when a wealth of information is readily available to handicappers through any number of sources.

In addition to furiously scribbling trip notes into track programs, horseplayers needed to keep records. It was a time when not even the win percentages of trainers and jockeys win were included in the past performances.

I must say, however, the somewhat arduous process made all those who did so better, more complete horseplayers.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (27)

Slouching Towards Tucson

PORTLAND, OR, November 19, 2014--Beginning December 8 for four days, racing's biggest movers and shakers will gather at the 41st Annual Global Symposium on Racing and Gaming in Tucson, Arizona.

The annual pilgrimage has become the place for industry stakeholders to keep in touch with each other, swap a little gossip, and get a sense of how the industry is tracking as a whole.

This will be my 10th trip to the great American Southwest, a journey I look forward to at the end of each year for the colorful characters one meets while congregating at the hotel bar each night, talking about the year that was.

It’s great to see that behind the scenes of racing and gaming stand people who are trying to insure the industry continues to tick.

It’s a place where companies can showcase anything the industry requires, from new betting software platforms, to television cameras, to racetrack surfaces.

Although the exhibitors have got smaller over the years, attendance at the seminars has remained very strong as there's always something new to discuss each year, always something new to take away, hangovers notwithstanding.

Written by Robert Earle | Comments (0)
Adore Me’s World Record Performance Down Under Unforgettable

Christchurch, New Zealand – Nov 11 – That’s no typo; you read that correctly. Indeed, harness horses often race at distances over two miles here and last week I witnessed the fastest two miles—that’s 3,200 meters to us—in harness racing history.

Of course, that makes the time of 3:54—with a last half-mile in an astounding 55 seconds—trotted by Adore Me so extraordinary.

We know the Yanks love their speed and appropriately Adore Me is a daughter the prize American stallion, Bettor’s Delight, a very familiar name to harness racing fans world-wide.

And the five year old mare didn’t just establish a new world record; she smashed the old one by 1.5 seconds in an event that was just as extraordinary as her performance:

Written by Robert Earle | Comments (0)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Gulfstream News & Notes - Fri 12/26

Prado’s Return ‘Day to Day’
Wildcat Red Breezes 5 Furlongs
Weekend Pool Guarantees

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Jockey Edgar Prado was off his mounts Friday, still recovering from a spill in Tuesday’s seventh race. Prado’s agent, Bob Klesaris, said the popular Hall of Fame…

Dec 26 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Gravesend Quotes

David Jacobson, winning trainer of Salutos Amigos (No. 4): "He was spectacular, as usual. The race laid out just the way we thought it would, with Dads Caps and Green Gratto setting the early pace. [Jockey] Irad [Ortiz, Jr.] did an amazing job again; there's not that much to say. We were hoping he would…

Dec 26 | Categories: Aqueduct, | Comments (0)
Tropical Park Oaks

Sandiva (IRE) Scores First American Victory in Tropical Park Oaks

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Following Sandiva’s win in the $75,000 Tropical Park Oaks Saturday at Gulfstream Park, trainer Todd Pletcher expressed some feelings of irony.

Dec 21 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Tropical Park Derby

Casse-trained Colt Takes ‘Flight’ in Stretch Run of Tropical Park Derby

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Sky Flight captured his stakes debut in Saturday’s $75,000 Tropical Park Derby at Gulfstream Park, parlaying a perfectly executed ride by Jose Lezcano into his third straight victory.

Dec 21 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)


CYPRESS, Calif. – Making his first start around two turns, Dortmund, the 3-5 favorite, remained undefeated and became a Grade I winner, capturing a thrilling…

Dec 21 | Categories: Horse Racing, | Comments (0)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Friday, Dec. 19, 2014) - Travis Stone, the race-caller at Monmouth Park in 2014 and backup announcer at the New York Racing Association this winter, has been named the new track announcer at Churchill Downs Racetrack and voice of the world-famous Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands…

Dec 20 | Categories: Churchill Downs, | Comments (0)
Gulfstream Park News & Notes - Fri 12/1

Other Cheek Turns to Gulfstream for Saturday’s Tropical Park Derby
McGaughey Ready to ‘Party’ in Co-featured Tropical Park Oaks
Tropical Park Derby the Focus for Best Plan Yet

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Other Cheek has produced a pair of graded-stakes placings to recommend…

Dec 20 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Liam’s Map Passes Class Test in $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday

Tops Solid Field in Stakes Debut for Pletcher’s Fourth Win on Card

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – In his first three races, the last two of them runaway wins, Liam’s Map had shown considerable ability. In his fourth start and first in stakes company, the still-improving colt made it clear…

Dec 14 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Queens County Quotes

Mike Repole, winning owner of Micromanage (No. 1a) and third-place finisher Misconnect (No. 1): "It's like being a 13-year-old kid again. I love it here at Aqueduct. We really didn't want to run the two horses together, we kind of wanted to split them up. [But] they were both training really, really…

Dec 14 | Categories: Aqueduct, | Comments (0)
Atreides Rebounds with Sharp Score in Aventura Handicap

Hal’s Hope (G3) Next for Marty Wolfson-Trained Colt

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Atreides maintained his perfect record at Gulfstream Park in Sunday’s $50,000 Aventura Handicap, posting a 4 ½-length victory while rebounding from his only career loss..

Dec 8 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Changes To Sunshine Millions

Gulfstream And FTBOA Announce Changes To Sunshine Millions

Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania State Breds Now Eligible
Some Purses to be Reallocated to Florida Sire Stakes

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Gulfstream Park and the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association…

Dec 8 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Gulfstream Today 12.7

Grade 1 Winners Among 107 Nominations for Weekend Stakes
Pletcher Maiden Knocks Out Debut Victory
Jockey Nunez OK Following Paddock Incident

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Grade 1 winners Constitution, Danza and Lochte are among the 107 horses nominated to a quartet of December 13…

Dec 7 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)