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.

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

Saturday in the Parks

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, October 23, 2016—Where is everybody, I wondered as I arrived at Gulfstream Park Saturday morning? Then I remembered: Laurel Park.

Apparently, so were plenty of other folks. Over 21,000, in fact, and many of them brought money, not only to the revitalized building but the simulcasts, too, more than $4.4 million, 18% more than last year.

Tell you what, though. Twitter trolls surely aren’t cutting the NYRA any slack these days and some of the criticism is unfair.

Were they down from last year? Yes, and by a lot, 32%, the difference between $14.2 million and $9.6. But maybe many bettors—at least 32 percent—did what I did.

I walked into Silks, GP’s simulcast theater, armed with PPs from Belmont, Keeneland and Laurel. But when I saw Jason Blewitt all bundled up on the top floor in Elmont with the words sealed sloppy and off-turf, I put the Belmont PPs back in my shoulder bag.\

Won’t need these anymore: “Dark day, don’t play.” Oh, there was plenty of wet track form to go around: Quezon ($2.50), Weekend Hideaway (2nd at 2-5), Bar of Gold ($3.70)—by 18 lengths!—and Governor Malibu (2nd at 6-5 to Royal Posse).

But who needed that? Two things I said to myself following Governor Malibu’s Empire Classic placing: He’s just not that great and, when win-machine Royal Posse opened an insurmountable mid-stretch lead, why isn’t Rudy Rodriguez sitting on the sidelines next to Ramon Preciado?

Friends in high places, I guess.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (6)
A Maryland Million, a New York Showcase and Fillies in the Bluegrass

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, October 21, 2016—Finally, Fall appears to be catching up with South Florida and Saturday morning lows are expected to be in the high 60s but with sunny skies.

Wish that were the case in New York and Maryland where the predictions are for varying degrees of moisture.

And that’s too bad, what with the best Maryland-breds on display on Laurel’s Maryland Million program and Empire-breds on New York Showcase Day at Belmont Park.

Unlike some of the elites I know, I happen to love these state-bred race cards where the littler guys and gals get to race for a good payday that has the added benefit of reserving green space and jobs wherever Thoroughbreds thrive.

It would have been better had New York ad Maryland talked to each other and avoided parimutuel conflict as neither will be a successful if they hadn’t shared Saturday’s simulcast stage.

It appears that in New York, officials looked at last year’s NY Showcase card and kept it around the same weekend. Not that far back in the day, the Showcase program was always one week before Breeders’ Cup.

But since the 2015 Breeders’ Cup fell on the last weekend in October of 2015, and not its customary first weekend in November, the status quo was maintained resulting in Saturday’s simulcast stalemate.

That’s bad enough, but with sunshine in store for Keeneland’s penultimate Saturday, much of the emphasis will go there. So many races, so little intellectual bandwidth.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (27)

A Breeders’ Cup Juvenile ‘freak’ to root for and bet

The Breeders' Cup Juvenile seems exceptionally loaded this year. Classic Empire is a likely deserving favorite. Practical Joker and Syndegaard are coming in hot from New York. Either Gormley or Klint could be the next Kentucky Derby winner to come out of California. No telling how good Iroquois winner Not This Time might be. But there's a "freak" shipping west from Florida, who might be talented enough to outrun them all at a generous price.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (20)
Early retirement of stars only part of racing’s problem

It's encouraging that a number of stars, such as California Chrome, Beholder, Flintshire and Tepin are racing as 5- and 6-year-olds.However, it doesn't help the game a lot when they appear in the entries every two months or less on average. There are myriad causes but all can be remedied and must be if racing is to reverse its downward spiral.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (18)

An Open Letter to New York State’s Franchise Oversight Board

ELMONT, NEW YORK, October 11, 2016 - To the membership of the New York State Franchise Oversight Board:

I'm writing as a concerned New Yorker and I'm sure I represent many tax-paying citizens of our state.

The New York Racing Association, its Board of Directors, and executives seem to subsist in some kind of ideological bubble that won’t allow reality to interfere until the franchise is returned to them.

While assuming this position, the NYRA has exhibited questionable business practices and has shirked its fiduciary responsibility.

Of course, this comes as a result of delay tactics by state government that is efforting to maintain control of Thoroughbred racing on America’s most important horse racing circuit.

I dutifully ask that the FOB scrutinize the following:

NYRA's president and chief executive officer, Christopher Kay, has said his utmost priority is to make a profit, yet his authority has failed to lead NYRA down a sound fiscal path.

Payments from Genting's Resort World Casino, which were agreed to by the state as part of a franchise extension agreement, among other considerations, have not been met in full due in part to Governor Andrew Cuomo's arbitrary order to cap casino revenue at 2012 levels.

In 2007, NYRA traded the property rights of its three racetracks--Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga--for casino revenue. There were no caps in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by then Governor Elliott Spitzer.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (71)
How About Preps for Belmont Fall Three-Year-Olds?

ELMONT, NY, September 27, 2016 – In 1971, Philadelphia mayor James Tate unexpectedly resigned from his third term and appointed Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo as his replacement. Many questioned the legality of the move but no one legally challenged it.

Rizzo had the reputation of being a notorious cop who left a brutal legacy. Like George Wallace before him and now Donald Trump, Rizzo preyed on white working-class fears of the city's rising violent crime rate and made no bones about his racist distaste for blacks.

"Just wait after November, you'll have a front row seat because I'm going to make Attila the Hun look like a faggot," he said of his enemies during his 1975 re-election bid.

Another move of Rizzo's was to increase taxes. So much so that Thoroughbred racing pulled out of Liberty Bell Park and Keystone Race Track was quickly constructed on the site of a pig farm in Bensalem Township, just north of the city line about 3 miles from where Liberty Bell once stood.

Keystone opened in November of 1974 with all the charm of a strip mall. In fact, because of the large “K” attached to the grandstand, many people dubbed it the K-Mart of racing.

Now renamed Parx Casino and Racing, the track was the site of last weekend's major Thoroughbred races, including the Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion Stakes of course, the latter a hold-over from Liberty Bell.

But here’s a question: How can a second-tier track eclipse racing at Belmont Park? The answer is that the New York Racing association offers no races for 3-year-olds of either sex on dirt at its Belmont fall meeting.

Now that's a serious hole in the NYRA's stakes schedule.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (22)

Clip & Save BC Prep Trip Notes from Super Saturday

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., October 9, 2016—If your intention is to make money on Breeders’ Cup XXXIII and you missed any of the prestigious races run from East to Midwest to West on Saturday, get thee to a replay center and decide for yourself.

The results of Saturday’s graded stakes were as exciting as they were illuminating. It was interesting to see and infer which connections were serious about winning yesterday’s Grade 1 titles at all costs or whether a win would be nice, but more a means to an end.

At Belmont Park, graded stakes action started with ladies first, and juvenile youngsters—all six of them--the small field norm in Saturday’s preps—raced a flat mile in the Frizette. Local runner Libby’s Tail nearly stole the race, and the show.

She made all the pace, most of it pressured, hounded by favorite Nonna Mela, who ultimately was dull, short, or subtly outclassed. Libby’s Tail was in front into the stretch, which forced strong second favorite Yellow Agate to reach down deep.

And win she did, showing extraordinary courage while up in class and distance making her second career start. Few races are wasted these days given rich purses, but this was quite a performance to get up in the final strides under very challenging conditions.

Quite a performance by trainer Christophe Clement, too, building on his reputation for getting horses to repeat following a maiden win, a good one in which she overcame gate from far back in an eye-opening 1:10. Gemologist is a hot sire and grandsire Lemon Drop Kid adds distance to the resume.

Lady Eli can bring a racing fan to tears, watering mine with a gutsy score over talented mate, Sea Calisi, Chad Brown beating Chad Brown. Taking the lead in midstretch, ‘Eli’ showed her noted class taking the G1 Flower Bowl in her second start after battling laminitis for a year.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (2)
Industry Continues to Disrespect Horseplayers, Fans and Its Own Legacy

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, October 4, 2016—I should be enjoying the game right now. The Breeders’ Cup, the two best back-to-back betting days of the year, is upon us and last weekend’s first round of playoffs were nothing short of top shelf.

This weekend, it’s a Super Saturday for real at Belmont Park, and mighty Keeneland Race Course, friendly rake and all, opens its boutique autumn meet Friday with Fall Stars Weekend featuring the great turf mare, Tepin.

All that remains after this weekend is delving into this year’s graded stakes results and learning more about the invaders that make Breeders’ Cup truly world class. This is a time when fans and players should celebrate their love of the game.

However, many devoted fans on every level, myself included, have a sick feeling in our stomachs, as if the five final weeks of the 2016 Presidential campaign weren’t enough of an anxiety-fest.

No matter how recent events have been spun--a handful of exceptions notwithstanding--the sport’s rich and powerful and its ruling class, the stewards, spend time covering up transgressions while feigning transparency.

Don’t believe everything you see or hear. Recent “improvements” and “strides made” are Band-Aids on bullet wounds that slowly and inexorably becoming fatal.

I personally know four deeply devoted practitioners that have walked away in a span of two months and two more who are thinking about it.

Two of the defectors were big-time gamblers. One horseman, a successful syndicator and member of the Water, Hay and Oats Alliance, volunteered without prompting the he’s slowly phasing out his U.S. operation in favor of racing in galaxies far, far away.

Like me, he’s aware Thoroughbred nirvana is unattainable, but that the game has become a playing field where only racing’s deep-pocketed elite class have more than a puncher’s chance to succeed.

But when the racing-made millionaire said “there’s no real appetite for reform in this industry,” he made me and like-minded media feel foolish. It was like kryptonite for chroniclers who refuse to take a knee when confronted by the sport's deep wounds.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (39)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Total Handle on Maryland Million Up 18.5 Percent, Attendance Grows

Saturday Crushes 2014 Handle by 59 Percent
Track Showcases Ongoing Improvements of More than $20 Million
Day Highlighted by Admirals War Chest Victory in Classic

LAUREL, MD – Total handle on Saturday’s 31st Jim McKay Maryland Million was up 18.5 percent over…

Oct 23 | Categories: Laurel, | Comments (0)
Admiral’s War Chest Repeats in Maryland Million Classic

Rockin Jojo Pulls Off 31-1 Upset in Maryland Million Distaff

LAUREL, MD – Sinatra Thoroughbreds Racing LLC’s Admiral’s War Chest became the fifth back-to-back winner of the $150,000 Maryland Million Classic Saturday at Laurel Park with a dominating gate-to-wire triumph…

Oct 23 | Categories: Laurel, | Comments (0)
Nicaradalic Rocks Pulls Upset in $100,000 Maryland Million Sprint

Popular Multiple Stakes Winner Ben’s Cat Runs Last For Fifth Straight Loss

LAUREL, MD – Even with the vocal support of his loyal fans that welcomed him to the Laurel Park paddock and followed him to the track, popular 26-time winner Ben’s Cat couldn’t deliver a fourth…

Oct 23 | Categories: Laurel, | Comments (0)
Phlash Phelps Defends Maryland Million Turf Title

Devilish Love Edges Complete St. in Maryland Million Ladies

LAUREL, MD – Hillwood Stable LLC’s Phlash Phelps overcame a wide trip from his outside post position to defend his title in the $125,000 Maryland Million Turf, prevailing by 1 ¼ lengths while narrowly missing…

Oct 23 | Categories: Laurel, | Comments (0)
Goodness Gracious! Greatbullsoffire Wins Maryland Million Nursery

Pacesetter Item Withstands Double Challenge to Capture Lassie

LAUREL, MD – Kathleen Willier’s Greatbullsoffire moved to the lead on the turn into the homestretch, poised to live up to his even-money favoritism in Saturday’s $100,000 Maryland Million Nursery when 69-1…

Oct 23 | Categories: Laurel, | Comments (0)
Empire Distaff (NYB) Quotes

John Kimmel, winning trainer of Bar of Gold (No. 1): "We always had a question about her distance capabilities. I got to thinking more and more about it; trying to get this filly off the pace and giving her a chance to settle was always what I've been targeting for her."

Oct 23 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Mohawk (NYB) Quotes

Thomas Morley, winning trainer of Brother O'Connell (No. 5): "I had a feeling he could handle it, but I didn't think I could beat Ralph Nicks' horse [Tapitation, No. 8]. Johnny [Velazquez] gave him an absolute peach of a ride. He never let them get a breather in next to him. On the backside, he…

Oct 23 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Laurel Jockeys Boyce, Glaser Bring Harness Wins into Maryland Million

Journeymen Riders Capture Sulky-Cycle Challenge Events Thursday
Post Time 12:15 P.M. for Saturday’s 31st Jim McKay Maryland Million Program
Return of Marylandia Highlights ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races’ Festivities

LAUREL, MD – Laurel Park-based jockeys…

Oct 22 | Categories: Laurel, | Comments (0)
Undefeated Three Rules ‘Perfect’ in Work for Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Undefeated Three Rules breezed five furlongs in 1:00.10 Friday morning at Gulfstream Park in preparation for a scheduled start in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita Nov. 5.

Exercise rider Patrick Harris was aboard for the 2-year-old son…

Oct 22 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Empire Showcase Day & Taste NY celebrate New York State at Belmont Park

ELMONT, N.Y. - The spotlight will again shine on the Empire State this Saturday, with eight stakes races worth $1.75 million in purses exclusively for New York-breds, along with a host of fall-themed activities and a special giveaway for Empire Showcase Day.

Oct 22 | Categories: Belmont Park, | Comments (0)
Quotes from the $100,000 Sycamore (G3)

Angel Cruz (winning rider of Renown [GB])
On scoring his second graded stakes victory of Keeneland’s Fall Meet following the Darley Alcibiades (G1) on Oct. 7 on Dancing Rags
“I love Keeneland. It’s amazing. It’s beautiful.”

On his victory aboard Renown

Oct 21 | Categories: Keeneland, | Comments (0)
New York-breds shine on Empire Showcase Day

ELMONT, N.Y. - New York-breds will take center stage on Saturday as Belmont Park hosts its annual Empire Showcase Day, featuring a unique 11-race all-state-bred card, including eight stakes races worth a total of $1.75 million in purses and anchored by the $300,000 Empire Classic Handicap.

Oct 21 | Categories: | Comments (0)