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

Pharoahtoga: The Christmas Place To Be

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Travers Eve, 2015—Since 1977, my first full racing season in Saratoga, I have seen many strange things, but this was different—in a good way.

Put another way, I live virtually across the street from the race course and it took me about 25 minutes to get inside the gate this morning.

Welcome to Pharoahtoga.

NYRA racing analyst Richard Migliore said a month ago that if Monmouth Park could draw 6,000 fans to see American Pharoah gallop that, because this is Saratoga, you could get 20,000.

I’m thinking The Mig might have ridden 4,450 winners but what does he know about this?

I’ll be damned but his guess was a lot better than mine. The crowd seemed more like a weekday at the races or, as Jerry Bossert put it, “there were more people here this morning than will be at Aqueduct all winter.”

Written by John Pricci | Comments (1)
Pharoah’s Chariot in Rarified Air

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, August 27, 2015—This town, the whole Capital District in fact, never ceases to amaze in terms of its enthusiasm for whatever is scheduled to take place at Saratoga Race Course.

Before thinking this is provincialism its worst, Saratoga no longer is our full time residence; it’s South Florida now. But Saratoga is, to me and many others, like New Orleans; it’s a place you can feel. And that vibe extends beyond the course on Union Avenue.

It’s one thing to say that the Albany area boasts only one major league sports attraction—the flat track, as the locals call it—and that would be correct. But true enthusiasm cannot be manufactured, it’s an expression that comes from within.

Sipping a cup of coffee trackside Wednesday morning as the horses filed past to enter the main track for whatever was in store; timed workouts, gallops, jogs or just standing quietly, a report came over the television sets that rest atop the backside food stand.

The pronouncement was that “the big horse” would be landing in a matter of hours at Albany International, bound for trainer John Terranova’s barn on the Saratoga backstretch after first making a stopover to pick up a horse called Funny Cide.

Of course, Funny Cide was the local equine that made good as a Dual Classics winner, the gelding literally born up the road from the racetrack. The 15-year-old will be feted at the track. Everything that’s done here relates to how much this place “gets it” about horses.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (3)

Snore at the Shore: A Wakeup Call

LOS ANGELES, August 5, 2015—Thankfully, I was able to watch Sunday's Haskell Invitational on HD-TV without the continually streaming interruptions that marred my viewing of Friday's Curlin and Saturday's Jim Dandy from Saratoga on my ADW's track feed.

Those difficulties notwithstanding, both of those races were more exciting and offered better wagering opportunities despite shorter fields, than did American Pharaoh's purse enhanced public workout at Monmouth.

Maybe I'm just too old and too cynical, but if the practice of beating up on inferior stock--including some already squashed multiple times--is considered sport then so is professional wrestling. Worse, giving in to purse inflation coercion sets a dangerous precedent.

I don't deny that America's best 3-year-old looked very impressive despite the lack of competition. Indeed, the Triple Crown winner was most significantly been tested in the Kentucky Derby by Firing Line and Dortmund; the former now sidelined for the rest of the year.

NYRA executives are now in lockstep with their Monmouth Park counterparts. Perhaps the late ascending Curlin winner, Smart Transition, and the resurgent Jim Dandy victor, Texas Red, will get a chance to make American Pharoah work harder for his next inflated-purse prize.

Fortunately, it appears that the prestige of the Travers might provide that possibility.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (21)
Fed Bills Fumble on Meds

LOS ANGLES, July 27, 2015--Anyone fearful of Federal intervention had ample justification dumped in their laps last week when sponsors of one Congressional bill dealing with horse racing reform started criticizing a newer, similar bill with different sponsors.

Already on record in support of the newer bill, HRI Executive Editor, John Pricci commented, "Perhaps they should consider acting like grownups and help push for legislation that makes the game better for bettors and industry stakeholders. If they are sincere, they should try to fashion a solution helping like-minded colleagues instead of competing with them."

Also supporting the newer bill is a coalition of the Jockey Club and the Water, Hay, Oats Alliance (WHOA). Recently, the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) was invited by the Jockey Club to join that coalition.

HANA then polled its membership to determine whether or not it should do so, but they have not shared the results for several weeks now. Perhaps expansion of the elite Jockey Club's influence is not all that popular a concept, or perhaps horseplayers only care about the next set of past performances?

I believe both bills contain the same fatal flaw, i.e., they put the proverbial cart before the horse.

Written by Indulto | Comments (4)

Pharoah’s Travers great for racing but what about his future

Ahmed Zayat's and Bob Baffert's decision to bring American Pharoah to the Travers deserves praise. But in calling this audible from their Breeders' Cup Classic blueprint, they are taking a risk that another coast-to-coast trip could be one too many for the Triple Crown champion.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (14)
Stewards play God, let them take it all the way

Last Saturday's Beverly D produced the same unfortunate result as the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga a couple of weeks ago. A horse, who had no shot to win and wasn't involved in an incident of interference, got put up to first while the victim wound up with the same placing he or she would have had absent the foul. There is no justice in this. Stewards have discretion to decide where to place a horse who has committed a foul. In obvious cases, why not use the same judgment to move a victimized horse up to where he or she would have finished if not for the interference?

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (9)

Business As Usual: Appellate Court Denies Dutrow Appeal

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., June 25, 2015—On June 24 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed trainer Rick Dutrow’s appeal of a 10-year suspension based on his claim that he was denied due process in a 2011 New York State administrative hearing.

This ruling in no way qualifies as an upset, of course. It’s simply how the process works: State’s conduct administrative hearings to adjudicate cases de jure in the guise of acting in the public interest then deny constitutional guarantees during that process.

These hearings are de facto kangaroo courts in which agenda rules. Strict rules of evidence do not apply, hearsay is permitted, and because of racing’s patchwork quilt of drug testing and regulation the results most often are capricious and arbitrary.

Even though the burden of proof is on the state, the presumption in these cases is that the client is guilty. Resultantly, appeals courts are loathe to reverse the findings of administrative hearings, reversals somehow being a tacit admission that the state process was flawed at best or, in Dutrow’s case, unconstitutional at its core.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (11)
Part 3 HRI Special Report on the Dutrow Case: Patti Cerda Speaks Out

What you are about to read is an unsolicited, personal, unabridged statement of an ex-NYRA employee in response to several readers who believe that some of the individuals who defended Rick Dutrow Jr. in the comments section of Part 1, Part 2 of HRI’s Special Report--an investigation into the Dutrow case in which the trainer was suspended for 10 years--did so because they were friends of Dutrow. In Part 3, Patti Cerda, for 20 years the Manager of the NYRA Identification Office responsible for issuing credentials to all individuals having business at any of the three NYRA tracks, states that she was made to issue false identification badges to undocumented backstretch workers or risk losing her job. That process is counter to federal and state laws, in short, an illegal act. The following is her account, edited for syntax and punctuation only

Written by John Pricci | Comments (80)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Albany (NYB) Quotes

Rudy Rodriguez, winning trainer of Good Luck Gus (No. 1): "He was coming into the race very good. He's been training very good. We've been pointing him to this race all along. He won at Saratoga a year ago, I had entered him for [main track only] on the grass to see if we could get a race before this…

Aug 29 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Saturday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Guaranteed at $650,000

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot pool will be guaranteed at $650,000 Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

The Rainbow 6 carryover jackpot is paid out only when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 percent…

Aug 29 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Quotes from Jess’s Dream’s debut win at Saratoga

Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Jess's Dream: "It wasn't easy to get him to the races. We've had him for a year but it's taken a year to get him here. It was like a Grade 1. It was pretty special because of who it is and listening to the fans clap. It's great to win here at Saratoga with this horse because…

Aug 24 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Troy Stakes Quotes

Joe Sharp, winning trainer of Shore Runner (No. 2): "He got a great trip, Kendrick did a good job. The pace was pretty slow and the guys tried to make it as hard on him as they could, rightfully so. He was the horse to beat. I had a lot of confidence in the horse, a lot of confidence in the jockey and…

Aug 23 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Alabama (G1) Quotes

Tony Dutrow, winning trainer of Embellish the Lace (No. 5): "I always hoped of winning a race like that, and when it comes, it's just so gratifying, so humbling, so magical. And special is a great word which sums up all that."

Aug 23 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Rainbow 6 Carryover $361,926.76 for Sunday

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - After going unsolved for the 22nd consecutive racing program, the Rainbow 6 carryover reached $361,926.76 Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

Heading into the final leg, five horses were alive as singles – (5) Infield In, (7) Gavel Down, (8) Untietheknot, (10) Huddyup and…

Aug 23 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Saratoga Race Course Notes - 8/20

Weaver considering recent maiden winner Mid Ocean for G1 Travers
Lovely Maria, 'Chatterbox' gallop, school for G1 Alabama
Wildcat Red arrives at the Spa to prep for G1 Forego
Hall of Fame trainer Sheppard relieved to extend streak
Top Billing tries turf for the first time on Saturday

Aug 20 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Flutterby Set to Share Spotlight in Saturday’s Gold Mover Stakes

Princess Rooney (G2) Runner-up Returns for 94-Year-Old Trainer

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Jerry Bozzo has earned a measure of celebrity during Flutterby’s successful 2015 campaign that has put her breeder/owner/trainer’s name into Thoroughbred racing’s record book.

Aug 20 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Promising 2-year-olds ready for black type in Schenectady

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Friday's $100,000 Schenectady Stakes at Saratoga Race Couse, for 2-year-olds at 5 ½ furlongs on the Mellon turf course, features a field of five males and two fillies ready to add black type to their resume.

Entering for trainer Wesley Ward and Hat Creek Racing…

Aug 20 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Jones bringing formidable pair for G1 Alabama

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - When trainer Larry Jones last brought a Kentucky Oaks winner to Saratoga Race Course, Proud Spell captured the Grade 1 Alabama en route to 3-year-old filly championship honors.

Seven years later, Jones will try again with Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks heroine Lovely Maria…

Aug 20 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Baker’s duo set for Union Avenue

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Charlie Baker will hope to take advantage of his mares' agreeable running styles when he saddles the speedy Atlantic's Smile and the late-closing Make the Moment to take on graded stakes-placed Willet in the $100,000 Union Avenue for New York-bred fillies and mares 3-years-old…

Aug 18 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)
Triple Crown winner American Pharoah tops 16 nominated to Travers

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Triple Crown hero American Pharoah tops a list of 16 sophomores nominated to the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 29 at Saratoga Race Course.

Owned by Zayat Stables, American Pharoah breezed five furlongs in 1:00.13 Sunday morning at Del Mar, his first timed…

Aug 16 | Categories: Saratoga, | Comments (0)