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

New NYRA rules ignore real problem: winter racing

Reacting to a disheartening number of fatal thoroughbred breakdowns, NYRA has come up with a new series of rules and regulations, one more pointless than the others. They all gloss over the real problem. Winter racing at Aqueduct attracts a disproportionate number of problem horses. The only solution is to curtail racing during the worst weather months of the year.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (0)
Twice caught rider faces third battery allegations; How does racing allow this to happen?

Roman Chapa, who has been suspended twice--for 19 months and five years--for using a battery is being investigated again for the same offense for a ride at Sam Houston Park last Saturday night. This is why arguing for tougher cheating rules is a joke. What's the point when someone who has been convicted of one of the most serious offenses can get a second and third chance?

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (17)

Talented from Day One, Holy Bull Winner Is No Upstart

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., January 25, 2015—It was a state-bred maiden race at Saratoga; didn’t look like anything out of the ordinary on paper. But when the betting opened it became apparent that a dark bay named Upstart might be OK.

Ante post, he was the 3-2 choice over six rivals and he made that quote look generous, indeed. All he wanted to do was run, run, run, but Jose Ortiz didn’t want him to move yet.

On the turn, the $130,000 Saratoga yearling still wanted to go—“traffic, hard held,” the chart footnote reads--but with the straight in sight, Ortiz let out a notch of rein and Upstart did the rest.

It was an impressive enough score, which is nothing unusual for Saratoga, but what happened after Upstart reached the wire 5-1/4 lengths in front of Tizquick was.

The ridgling galloped out, slowed to a canter, then to a walk on the backstretch. But instead of turning around and galloping back toward the winners’ circle, Ortiz walked him slowly over to the inside portion of the track, stopped, and gave him a feel for the rail.

I only remember seeing this maneuver before steeplechase events; the riders giving their mounts a “feel for the hedge/fence,” some familiarity with the obstacle the horse will be asked to traverse.

What jumped to mind in this case is that the outfit must really like this youngster. Finally, Ortiz galloped him back slowly but trainer Rick Violette couldn’t wait, running out to the middle of Saratoga Race Course to greet horse and rider. High fives ensued.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (4)
Kentucky Derby Prep Season: Game On

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., January 21, 2015—Are you ready for some prep ball?

Finally, things are beginning to heat up as the Road to Kentucky Derby takes its first serious step Saturday when Gulfstream Park renews the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes at 1-1/16 miles.

But before taking a look ahead, there already has been some interesting action in racing’s glamour division and a few recent participants might turn out to be players in Louisville.

Whether they’re elite players or not will shake out in the days and weeks ahead. Thus far, it’s been a promising start.

Two weeks ago Calculator earned an impressive maiden score at the expense of some classy runners in Santa Anita’s Grade 3 Sham Stakes, ridden and performing as though he were much the best.

Ground loss didn’t matter, early button-pushing didn’t matter but what mattered was the impressive way he drew off that belied a lineage that’s admittedly a bit short on the maternal side of his pedigree.

Of course, he will be given ample opportunity to outrun his ancestry in the future; the 1-1/16 miles of the San Felipe seems the logical place to find out more about Peter Miller’s trainee.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (8)

Until the Perception of Horseplayers Change, Neither Will Racing

LOS ANGELES, January 9, 2015—The image of that of the horseplayer proved a popular topic for kicking off the New Year. First John Pricci wrote, "In a culture that will bet on virtually anything--even illegally, if the proposition is popular enough--it is the horseplayer that society holds in low regard.

For many, the horseplayer is a cliché: He is the guy you meet on a street corner, a racetrack, or even in front of a home computer wearing worn out shoes; with silver hair, a ragged shirt and baggy pants, looking like he probably drinks a bit, too.

But it is the horseplayer who is the most resilient of gamblers: You can ignore him, lie to him, cheat him, steal from him and keep him in the dark. But you can count on him, win or lose, mostly lose, he keeps coming back for more."

On the very next day, the New York Times described Aqueduct patrons as "lonely old men who don’t care much about whether the track is preserved. They just complain about it."

Most "accepted their small losses as the price of a day’s distraction, and the losses of others as a small reward."

"That’s why they don’t care if they lose. ... They gamble for gambling’s sake. They know no one wins."

There wasn't anything new in either article about the ways horseplayers are perceived or the injustices imposed on them by those they allow to do so. The former lamented that self-enabled exploitation; the latter used it to promote its agenda of getting Aqueduct closed.

The Times photo essay amused me because what I saw was a group of seniors still able to get out in the open air under their own steam, and playing with money that likely belonged to them. They probably no longer had to worry about mortgages, educational or medical expenses, and certainly not their next meal. The fact that they all complained about what racing at Aqueduct has evolved into proved that their senses and reasoning remained intact.

For me, however, such characterizations trigger memories accumulated over a half-century of horse playing during which I endured unrealistic and unwarranted concerns, as well as undeserved and unfair criticism, and even condemnation from family, friends and co-workers when they became aware of my interest in the game.

Written by Indulto | Comments (14)
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 Indulto | Comments (5)

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
Oaklawn Barn Notes - Sunday, Jan. 25

Two scheduled starters for Saturday’s $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn, including champion Take Charge Brandi, recorded their final workouts for the mile race Sunday morning.

Jan 26 | Categories: Oaklawn, | Comments (0)

OLDSMAR, FL. – The countdown has begun to discovering if Tampa Bay Downs track and multiple stakes-record holder Catalina Red can continue to excel while going around two turns against 3-year-olds from some of the country’s top stables.

Jan 26 | Categories: Tampa Bay Downs, | Comments (0)
Gulfstream Park News & Notes - Fri 1/23

Frosted Aiming to Follow Cairo Prince in 2015 Lambholm South Holy Bull
Keen Ice Makes Sophomore Debut in Lambholm South Holy Bull
Decision Day Ready for Dirt Debut
All’s Okay With Jess’s Dream

BOYNTON BEACH, FL – After winning the 2014 Holy Bull (G2) with…

Jan 24 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)

Hot Springs, Ark. (Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015) – The speedy Sugar Shock is scheduled to make her first start against older horses in the $100,000 American Beauty Stakes for female sprinters Saturday afternoon at Oaklawn. A Kentucky-bred daughter of Candy Ride, Sugar Shock was Oaklawn’s top 3-year-old…

Jan 24 | Categories: Oaklawn, | Comments (0)
Regal Minister leads field for Rego Park

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The inaugural running of the $125,000 Rego Park Stakes for 3-year-old New York-breds at six furlongs on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack - features a field of six sprinters each looking to each establish themselves on the scene this year.

Jan 24 | Categories: Aqueduct, | Comments (0)
Gulfstream Park News & Notes - Thu 1/22

Vitali Leaning Toward Lambholm South Holy Bull with Bluegrass Singer
Lambholm South Holy Bull the Goal for First Down
Bocachica Released from Hospital

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Mucho Macho Man Stakes winner Bluegrass Singer is expected to make his next start in Saturday’s $400,000…

Jan 23 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Dutrow Charts Course for Grade 1 Winners

Trainer Tony Dutrow has started to formulate plans for several of his top horses at Oaklawn Park, including Grade 1 winner The Big Beast. Dutrow, based this winter in Arkansas, said the major spring objective for The Big Beast is the $300,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 9 at Oaklawn.

Jan 15 | Categories: Oaklawn, | Comments (0)
Happy My Way Back on Favorite Track in Sunshine Millions Sprint

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Happy My Way is set to make his 2015 debut in Saturday’s $100,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream, where the 5-year-old gelding developed into a stakes-placed performer last season.

Jan 15 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Toasting Looks for Redemption in Sunshine Millions Distaff

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – In her three-year race career, West Point Thoroughbreds’ Toasting has displayed moments of brilliance, winning the Dream Rush Stakes over now multiple graded stakes winner Merry Meadow, running head to head with the highly regarded Wedding Toast in the Comely Stakes (G3), and…

Jan 15 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Bad Debt Tries Again in $100,000 Sunshine Millions Turf

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Still showing the competitiveness and consistency that has earmarked his career, Bad Debt will open his 8-year-old campaign in a familiar spot.

A 15-time winner who has hit the board in 42 of 57 career starts over five racing seasons, the bay Grand Reward gelding…

Jan 15 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Wildcat Red, East Hall Set to Renew Rivalry in Sunshine Millions Classic

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – East Hall followed up an impressive triumph in the $500,000 Indiana Derby (G2) with a decisive two-length decision over Wildcat Red in the Millions Classic Preview at Gulfstream Park West on Nov. 8. It was the first time the Bill Kaplan-trained gelding got the better of his fellow…

Jan 15 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)
Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Draws Diverse Field

Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Draws Diverse Field

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Several out-of-town horses led by multiple New York-bred stakes winner Effie Trinket help comprise a diverse field for the $100,000 Filly & Mare Turf. Pennsylvania-breds Dame Dorothy, Peace Talk and Waterway Run…

Jan 15 | Categories: Gulfstream, | Comments (0)