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
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

Prevarications as Belmont 150 Approaches

Thoroughbred racing will not become a viable world-brand sport until American horsemen realize and accept that their dependence on raceday medication is slowly yet effectively hastening the sport’s declining popularity.

The need to accept the fact that short-cuts to horsemanship in the name of economic expediency is perilous long term. The rest of the show will go on while American racing becomes less relevant on the world stage.

If racing had a choice of being categorized as a red industry or blue one, the current brand would be colored red. Racing’s 1% would insist on a status quo knee-jerk. The patrician manner in which business is conducted speaks to this.

Understandably, horsemen who work for today’s mega-breeders, owners and partnerships are loathe to put their considerable livelihoods at risk by attempting to play the long game.

And that makes it incumbent on racing’s driving stakeholders, the breeding industry, to insist that the industry really does something that truly benefits the horse, both near and long term.

The Water Hay and Oats grassroots organization, WHOA, continues to grow with new members each week and has made some political progress, but now America needs a big push to propel horse racing’s best interests across the finish line.

Only a united effort by America’s powerful market breeders can do that and without delay. I live in the real world and I don’t see the downside in this. Is more evidence needed to know that Thoroughbred racing has gone global?


Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)
HRI Preakness Consensus Highly Justififed

Justified, the 1-2 early line favorite for the middle leg of Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, has the look of the 1927 Yankees.

The advance odds made Bob Baffert wince at yesterday's post draw presser, the Hall of Famer stating that it surely applies a lot of added pressure.

What Baffert was expecting I not sure because no one can have it both ways.

You cannot confide to your closest associates that the colt is the best he's ever trained, then lower expectations, especially after a favorable post draw.

There are no secrets at the racetrack; who should know that better than a man seeking his seventh win in an American classic.

We wanted to see Derby runner-up Good Magic--his only Derby challenger--back in which he is. But we wanted fast footing this time, which highly likely will not be the prevailing conditions.

Maybe it's a fool's errand for all of them but in horse racing, when it appears on paper that you have one serious rival to beat, you enter and take your chances. Clearly, six brave souls feel that way.

As a gambler, I wanted to beat him, and still do, but in good conscience, logic doesn't support the notion.

Whichever rival decides to test him early likely would be committing race-dynamics suicide. Just is fast and nimble, skips over wet racetracks like an equine Donald Duck, and draws an advantageous post which puts him out in the clear. Again.

By any measure, it looks like Kentucky Derby redux.

Here's what the our staff, and HRI's voice of the people, think:


Written by John Pricci | Comments (4)

An Open Letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo

Dear Governor Cuomo,

All New Yorkers are aware that Thoroughbred racing is not one of your favorite sports, so please allow this introduction. I’ve been a turf writer and handicapper since 1976 and won several sports-writing awards during a 17-year career at Newsday.

In fact, an investigative piece with a Newsday colleague on morning workouts was picked up by the wire services and ran on the front page of the Albany Times Union on Sunday in advance of the 1986 Saratoga race meet.

The subject I am about to broach also requires an explanation for fans and horseplayers--the most critical and paranoid of all sports audiences--because this participatory pastime is built on opinion backed by betting dollars.

This group, and the six members of the New York Gaming Commission, four of whom are your appointees, need to understand the meaning of the phrase “justice delayed is justice denied.” It is more than just a quaint notion.

Rather, the phrase is a legal maxim meaning that if legal redress is available for a party that has suffered some injury, but is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, it’s effectively the same as having no redress at all.

Indeed, it is the only means of redress whereby practitioners can adjudicate fairly when it believes that courts or agencies are acting too slowly to resolve a legal issue because the system is too complex, or the party in question lacks political favor.

It is widely accepted within the community that it is the latter predicate at work in this case.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (14)
Derby? check; Preakness? check; Belmont???

Since before the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby, trainer Bob Baffert stressed how important a sharp break away from the starting gate would be to the future success his chestnut beast, Justify.

Baffert repeated the mantra prior to Preakness 143. He knew before the Derby he had the best horse and just wanted to have an uncompromised opportunity to prove it. And the consensus of his rivals agreed with Baffert’s assessment.

Justify is a superior talent; He was--and still remains--the horse they must all beat three weeks hence.

In the lead-up to Preakness, most analysts agreed that the Classics’ second leg rated as a two-horse race on paper. Justify v Good Magic: “The Rematch.”

Justify, extremely light on his feet for such a big, powerfully built colt, showed that he’s a superior wet-track performer, getting away from the barrier cleanly and quickly once again.

So comfortable was Justify that he probably would have loved to join those Preakness infield revelers who cheerfully chose to dive head-first, belly-flopping their way across mud that had been building for five long days.

As for Justify’s main rival, his fate was sealed at the break, too. Good Magic broke sharply and indeed gained an advantage in the early going. But in his case, that good news also turned out to be the bad news.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (8)

Uninformed experts will help price on Justify


The potential for a second Triple Crown winner in three years will bring out the usual array of instant racing experts, who ignore the sport under normal circumstances. They'll point out how Justify almost got run down in the Preakness and the Belmont is longer. They'll ignore Mike Smith saying Justify had more in the tank if he had needed it. All of this will enhance the price on a horse who will gallop on June 9.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (11)
Racing might not benefit from sports betting

The legalization of sports betting this week is being looked upon as a big plus for horse racing. But there are many reasons why the anticipated benefits might not materialize. Meanwhile, the unanticipated entry of Eclipse champion Good Magic has made the Preakness more than a walk in the park for Justify.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (9)

Counterpoint: Winning Races Should Qualify the Derby Entrants

LOS ANGELES, May 14, 2018—The fact that the heavens opened two years in succession to rain on the Kentucky Derby post parade -- and thrice since the reign of vindictive venue restriction began – might suggest to some that the cosmos has colluded with climate change to compromise the proceedings on Derby Day.

Even if a higher power isn't manifesting its displeasure, genuine concern would not be misplaced over what has arguably become a calendar-confining, creativity-crushing qualification process that imposes Churchill Downs’ concept of candidate correctness on all Derby starters.

By casting the road to the Kentucky Derby in concrete, with little accommodation for individual development and adversity, CDI may be guilty of competition constraint and career contraction among its equine campaigners.

The 144th “Run for the Roses” was the sixth time starter eligibility was determined through performances in a selected series of qualifying prep races with preference given to participation within six weeks of the main event.

No longer is eligibility based on total earnings accumulated in any combination of graded stakes races. While the latter had been independent of surface, distance, gender, and venue, the former removed turf routes, all sprints, all filly races, and certain tracks, from the equation.

Was it the success and popularity of the Kentucky Derby that emboldened the operators of the host track to usurp the power to dictate where and when runners could qualify for their race?

Or was it the determination of deep-pocketed owners to pursue their Derby dreams at almost any cost that encouraged CDI to take control of prep participation as well as the main event?


Written by John Pricci | Comments (4)
Will Keeneland’s Incremental Takeout Rollback Result in Handle Uptick?

With the opening of Keeneland’s spring 2018 meet tomorrow, racing industry observers will begin keeping a close watch on the extent to which its management has succeeded in rebuilding the track’s once fan-friendly image.

In February, the track announced it would lower takeout rates in some wagering pools. Great news, right?

Well, for many of us, not so much because this sudden "largesse" follows their infamous takeout increase in all pools but one at the fall 2017 meet.

Last year, Matt Hegarty reported, "Keeneland … will raise its takeout ... from 16 percent to 17.5 percent on win, place, and show wagers and from 19 percent to 22 percent on all other bets ..."

This year, he wrote, "Takeout rates on win, place, and show wagers will be reduced from 17.5 percent to 16 percent, the rate that preceded the increase. ... On exactas ... from 22 percent to 19.5 percent ... higher than the rate prior to the increase…

“All other takeouts on exotic wagers ... will remain 22 percent ... the pick five will remain at 15 percent … lowered last year with the takeout increases in several other pools…

“When Keeneland raised its takeout rates, it split the extra revenue from the increases with host sites. Most host sites that award rebates to their biggest customers then increased the size of the awards so that rebated players did not play against the full increase in the takeout rates."


So, then, the bottom line here is that exotic wagers, which offer small bankroll bettors, minnows, the biggest bang for their buck, remain at the higher rate.


Written by Indulto | Comments (6)



 


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, |
ARCI TO CALL FOR REGULATION OF BREEDING AND SALES.

DRUG MONEY LAUNDERING AND EQUINE WELFARE CONCERNS PROMPT ARCI TO CALL FOR REGULATION OF BREEDING AND SALES.

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, |
SANTA ANITA STABLE NOTES - OCTOBER 28, 2017

AUTUMN MISS MILE SUITABLE FOR MISS SOUTHERN MISS
• COLLECTED AND STELLAR WIND HEADLINE BC BREEZERS
• RACING REMEMBERS BELOVED BEVERLY J. LEWIS
• CARMA HOSTS AFTERCARE AWARENESS DAY ON SUNDAY

MISS SOUTHERN MISS RETURNS TO MILE IN AUTUMN MISS


Oct 29 | Categories: Breeders' Cup, |
RACING RETURNS TO CHURCHILL DOWNS SUNDAY AT 1 P.M.

21-DAY FALL MEET

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, |