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

Glory Days and Hialeah Park

An inescapable factor for those who admit to a passion for Thoroughbred racing, with all its pomp and circumstance, its triumphs and its tragedies, is the wonder of renewal.

Three-year-olds prep in winter for the Classics of Spring, followed by the bookended summer glory of Saratoga and Del Mar, the coming of age in fall, the Breeders’ Cup and crowning of champions.

Immediately after the last glass of Christmas is raised, the future comes into clearer focus with the rekindling of prime time Santa Anita, Gulfstream’s championship session, and regeneration begins in earnest.

Suddenly it’s New Year’s Day: Happy Birthday equine friends, time has come to regroup, renew, rinse and repeat, as the game has for centuries, not only here but all around the world.

Once upon a time, Hialeah Park, a glorious racing cathedral, was a racetrack that provided the kind of high-profile focus the sport needs if it’s to deliver on its promise of endless summers at the races.

The dream that was Hialeah died decades ago. The man who made it possible, John J. Brunetti, passed a fortnight ago. So, now what?

Written by John Pricci | Comments (1)
Little Tampa Bay Puts on Big Time Show

Even if for one day--with Aqueduct staging a Gotham all-stakes Pick 4 and Santa Anita, with its all graded-stakes Pick 3, two G1s and the San Felipe--it was the little track that could, Tampa Bay Downs, which put on the deepest card in the U.S. and best in its history.

There’s no getting away from the fact that two most talented three-year-olds of the weekend; three if Justify’s allowance tour de force on Sunday is included—all appeared in Southern California.

But Tampa Bay’s All-Stakes Pick 5--beginning with the listed Columbia and ending with the Tampa Derby, a stakes sandwich that also included classy, hard-hitting War Story and the G2 Hillsborough, G3 Florida Oaks at 15%, was the day’s best super-exotics fare.

Of course, none of it would have been possible if not for an assist from SoFlo-based runners shipping north to Pinellas County. The high class program began quickly, the early buzz created by the debut of a million-dollar Ocala Breeders’ breeze-up graduate, Ruler of the Nile.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (3)

Would-Be Derby Legends, Beware the Ides of April

As all Kentucky Derby fans, an assessment of pedigree is an invaluable handicapping variable. And it turns out that lineage could prove history making in 2018. It’s an old school line that just might resurface on May’s first Saturday.

Of course, we’re referring to the mating of Zeus to Leto. The sire brings much to the table: youth, athleticism and, as a patron of the art of victory, has a reputation for producing stunning poetic imagery.

And when his offspring begins a second career at stud, they are known to be quite prolific themselves, as they are said to really enjoy their work.

Old school breed improvers, meanwhile, truly value class in the dam. Leto was a real blue hen in her day, some even consider her a goddess, a mother known to be very protective of her foals. A looker herself, she passed on those traits to her offspring.

Of course, the most famous son of this mating enjoyed his heyday around 1882. He became famous when he won one of the world’s most prestigious horse racing events.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (8)
Louisville Kentucky Here They Come…

After the dust settled on Saturday night in Arcadia, with only the run of highly regarded Justify in a Sunday allowances, we thought there would be a sizable shakeup. That didn’t happened. But if there were a shake-up, maybe it’s Apollo that’s all shook up?

Bolt d’Oro, who debuted at #1 in the Week 1 poll last weekend, solidified his position at the top after he was awarded victory in a heavyweight fight masquerading as the Grade 2 San Felipe. More on that later.

In New York, meanwhile, Enticed gave trainer Kiaran McLaughlin a second viable Kentucky Derby contender who jumped up to #4 after his thoroughly comprehensive G2 Gotham Stakes victory, a race that helped expose the weaknesses of both Free Drop Billy and Firenze Fire.

In Tampa, an emerging Derby contender may have announced himself as Quip wore down a fast but stamina challenged World of Trouble in deep stretch. Sam F. Davis winner Flameaway ran on late to secure the place over a tiring speedster, essentially completing a 3-speed number in the G2 Tampa Derby.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (4)

Cal stewards take forever to make the wrong call

Stewards are paid to make decisions. It shouldn't take 20 minutes to scrutinize video and make a call, as it did in the San Felipe. What did they see in minute 19 that they didn't see in minute 12 or minute 7? The mere fact that it took so long is argument enough that what happened on the race track should have been left "as is." This is merely the most recent embarrassment to come out a Southern California stewards stand. Something has to be done and it shouldn't take 20 minutes to do it. They have to go.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (4)
Tampa Bay Derby has moved way up among the Derby preps

The Tampa Bay Derby doesn't get the media attention of longer established Kentucky Derby preps but its status has been elevated in recent years by the performance of its winners. Two eventual Derby winners have come out of Oldsmar since 2007 and four of the five past Tampa Bay Derby winners have gone on to take Grade 1 stakes later in their career. The exception, Destin, missed by a nose in the Belmont. So it would be foolhardy to downgrade the result of Saturday's renewal. On a sad note, the death of John Brunetti last week probably ends any hope that Hialeah will ever come back as a thoroughbred track.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (12)

Non-Professional Players Demand Parimutuel Justice

Diversity of opinion is what makes horse racing possible. Everybody has one and, parimutuelly speaking, unpopular opinions can even make one rich.

But horseplayer advocacy deals with issues that can’t be settled with a finish line and a camera, and consensus among its practitioners is rare.

So I was surprised when two of HRI's tested, trusted, thoughtful, and talented turf writers, Tom Jicha and John Pricci, respectively, told recreational bettors in tandem that the Keeneland boycott should be considered a success, albeit a small one.

Written by Indulto | Comments (25)
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)


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, |