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

Arrogate in Dubai, a True Global View

Wow!

It is three days later and I still get the chills when I watch the replay of Arrogate’s win in the Dubai World Cup.

But in the context of the modern world, what did you think about Mike Smith cloaking himself with the Saudi Arabian flag as he was led back to the winners’ circle?

The Saudi Royal family reigns over one of the Arab nations that’s friendly to the US except, of course, when 19 radicalized Saudi Arabian-born terrorists took down our tallest buildings.

And what about the host country, Dubai? It has risen out of the sand with oil money and on the backs of immigrants from the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

It is only a matter of semantics whether these immigrants are more rightfully considered indentured servants or slaves, given the working and living conditions provided them.

Thoroughbred horse racing worldwide, and most Americans, do not care about such things as long as money from the Middle East bolsters the sport. Consider what the current state of racing would be without it.


Written by Mark Berner | Comments (23)
It’s Horse Racing But It’s Still Rock ‘n Roll to Me

United States Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke posted a press release on his department website March 6 which announcing a lease-sale of 73-million acres of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, scheduled for August 16, 2017.

April 20th will mark the seventh anniversary of the tragic explosion and sinking of the BP Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers and spewed oil into the Gulf until it was capped nearly three months later, July 15, 2010.

The operation was declared officially or “effectively dead” two months after that on September 19.

For those interested, the lease sale will be livestreamed from New Orleans and it will be the first installment of a five-year program called the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022.

On a related note, oil will soon flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline just 150 miles from where the failed protests to stop it took place. Recall that in December, authorities discovered that 176,000 gallons of crude leaked from the Belle Fourche Pipeline into Ash Coulee Creek in North Dakota.

The lease sale in the Gulf is an invitation for both profit and potential disaster. I spoke with musician and environmental activist Tab Benoit, as far back at June 3, 2010. Benoit was in New York for a show and we talked about the BP debacle after the gig.

So, what’s all this have to do with horse racing?

Well, it was Benoit who inspired the name of a four-time Louisiana Horse of the Year champion, Star Guitar. The Star Guitar Stakes is now the lynchpin for Louisiana Champions Day for state-bred horses at the Fair Grounds each year.


Written by Mark Berner | Comments (12)

Arrogreatest of All Time?

Sunday at this time of year is always devoted to HorseRaceInsider’s Triple Crown--Road to the Derby coverage, but not today. Not after spending the night-time with a gray racehorse a half-world away on a Saturday afternoon.

And I was so looking forward to the Derby playoffs, too, even if the UAE Derby has underperformed historically in a Kentucky context, and even if it didn’t appear via the PPs that we’d see the second coming of Animal Kingdom in Florence, Ky.

However, it’s true you never really know--and that also applies to what subsequently might step out of a horse van on the backside of Churchill Downs after having made a 1,600 mile road trip from Sunland Park, New Mexico. But the Derby is on hold at the moment.

Because at approximately 1 pm EDT Saturday, the preps and everything else--including the final round of Elite Eight NCAA play--would be rendered moot. Time and belief were suspended when a horse named Arrogate delivered a performance for the ages.

Now, after every big race that features a big performance and a big dramatic ending, I’m as guilty as anyone who makes use of a hyperbole machine. But not today.

This time there are no words to describe what a magnificent gray Thoroughbred did on a rainy, muddy night in the desert. The effort had to be seen to be believed, and maybe not even then. Much blinking was involved.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (9)
Hall of Fame Ballot Offers Many--Too Many--Worthy Nominees

The Racing Hall of Fame ballot arrived in the mail last week and it’s quite an eclectic lineup of 11 nominees. However, before we go on public record with our choices, this:

The Hall of Fame voting process historically has been problematic and a reliable source of great debate. Many approaches have been advanced over the years, some better than others, of course.

But the process currently in use, in our view, is not one of them.

Instead of breaking nominees down into categories, equines and humans, i.e. jockeys and trainers, all are lumped into one primary-type voting process.

So, for instance, who do you prefer, Javier Castellano or Goldikova? It might as well be the Pantheon of Apples v Oranges.

But that’s not the poorest feature, however. That distinction belongs to the voting rules themselves. It’s all spelled out in the cover letter:

1. You DO NOT have to vote for a specific number of candidates, human or equine.
2. You are being asked to vote “Yes” for as many or as few candidates as you wish.
3. The top four vote-getters, provided they receive more than 50 percent of the vote, will gain election into the Hall of Fame.

For us the issue is two-fold: the worthiness of an equines v. jockeys and trainers, and the fact that a vote for more than one in each category in effect cancels a voters prime choice.

While it’s way above my pay grade (my tax returns are available in order to dispel any potential emolument violations, or worse) I offer the following suggestion:

How about one vote for equine, trainer, and jockey, and one wild card in categories where voters are torn between two extremely worthy individuals? The Hall of Fame Committee can, as it does now, decide the appropriate percentage to gain admission to the Hall.

Beyond the above qualifications, this is what one ballot looks like, no slights intended. The preferences were based on empirical observation and a great compilation of statistical data provided by Hall of Fame staffers:


Written by John Pricci | Comments (4)

Gems in a Rough Game

In response to several email suggestions, the following is a reproduction of our Tote Busters analysis of the Late Pick 4 at Gulfstream Park, Saturday, March 25. For more information on this and other handicapping services, proceed to https://www.JohnPricci.com

GULFSTREAM PARK LATE PICK 4 MARCH 25, 2017


RACE 10: Maiden Special Weight 3YOs 7-1/2 Furlongs (TURF)


1 – ****SECRETARY AT WAR (2-1) Pricci Energy Ability Rating: 81
From stable mail: Alternated on the pace through from post 12 showing improved speed after apparent greenness in post parade. Benefits from the move inside and switch to Jose Ortiz. Jerkens profitable 29% going long to shorter.

2 – **KEEPING IT QUIET (9-2) PR: First-Time-Starter
Bred both sides for grass and dam has produced two turf winners from four winning runners, including a stakes winner. But Todd not known for turf-debut types (11%). Working steadily, but unspectacularly.

3 – **CRUZ DIEZ (15-1) PR: 71 (dirt)
Trailed throughout strongly run dirt debut going a mile. Grandson of Smart Strike should like turf -- of dam’s six winners from 11 starters, including two SWs, none won on turf. Cold barn adding blinkers.

4 – ***SILVER DEFENSE (4-1) PR: 78
Raced well in both turf starts, showing improvement second time and earning competitive Pricci Rating. Wismer barn had upset winner last Saturday and is profitable in all relevant categories. However, Bravo opts for another here but Lanerie switch does suit runner’s style.

5 – *OMENED BY (15-1) PR: 48
Set pressured pace throughout [turf] debut then tired badly in deep stretch at 67-1. Rider switch to Trujillo here suits, but barn is icy 1-for-94 at this meet through Monday’s racing.

6 – ****STORM TEAM (3-1) PR: 77 (5F)
Earned highly competitive figure while placing second start albeit in 5F sprint—winner repeated on Thursday here--and Goldberg a worthy 24% effective with beaten favorites. Top side of pedigree won’t mind the stretch-out. Paco sticks with this strong contender.

7 - **HERECOMESYOURMAN (10-1) PR: 67
Showed improved speed in recent turf debut at today’s trip despite racing wide throughout. Barn got off the duck here recently and Bravo chooses this one. Returns with good spacing and blinkers off; intriguing price shot at early line odds or greater.

8 – *CHESAPEAKE CITY (15-1) PR: [NA]
Trailed throughout dirt-sprint debut and was beaten off after having excuse-filled break. Has some turf pedigree and mare’s lone winner from two starters won on grass. Capable outfit names Prado but draw did him no favors.



RACE 11: ANY LIMIT STAKES 3YO Fillies 6 Furlongs


1 – **FAITH N HOPE (6-1) PR: 83
Likes to stalk from close range—the likely the tack here assuming sharp break. Stayed fairly well last out after making rally into the lane, earning a competitive PR. Loses Saez but is acquainted with Olivero.

2 – **FASHION RUNAWAY (12-1) PR: 77
Chased the pace and tired going 7F following lifetime best score previously at hybrid 6-1/2F, both at Tampa. Had useful blowout over surface for GP debut but meeting faster/tougher on speedier ground.

3 - ***CURSOR (6-5) PR: 81
Earned highly competitive PR when second in debut at this trip before breaking maiden stretching out, then was even finish in G3 Tempted going 8F. Turn-back makes sense in 3YO de but, as does switch to Jose Ortiz.

4 – ***TRUGE (9-2) PR: 83
Might have been best when beaten a neck by undefeated Who’s the Lady last out at today’s trip with six-wide rally into the lane in second fast-track start. Breeze of 5F 3rd fastest of 23 peers week of 4/24, but loses Ortiz to early line, class tested fave.

5 – ***WHO’S THE LADY (7-2) PR: 84
Three for three lifetime including two at GP, winning from both on and just-off the pace. Versatile filly is well-spotted by O’Connell in this listed event and goes first time for Paco. May offer surprising value; note.

6 - COLORINCOLONEL (30-1) PR:
Filly is 1-for-17 lifetime and barn is 1-for-94 at this meet—and that win was for maiden claiming $12,500.

7 - *MIA (6-1) PR: 68
Has shown high early speed going shorter on occasion but lone win came going 4-1/2F here in June. Generally fails to stay, figures to be chasing wide throughout but 1:01 1 BG was 6th fastest of 58 peers week of 3/19.




Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)
Skip to the Windows

The following handicapping thumbnail of Saturday's Gulfstream Park feature race courtesy of JohnPricci.com. Read about a brand new product line with new player-friendly price points and combo packages coming after Florida Derby for major circuits on the national racing calendar at https://www.JohnPricci.com

RACE 12: G3 SKIP AWAY 4 & UP 1-1/8 Miles


1 – HY RIVERSIDE (10-1)
Pricci Energy Rating: 88
Game winner of the Sunshine Millions Classic at today’s route then subsequently bounced, chased a strong pace in rapidly run G2 Gulfstream Park Handicap, then prepped by racing needlessly wide in backstretch run of G3 Hooper mile. Stretch-out and pole a big help, but loses Ortiz to Zulu.

2 – FLASHY JEWEL (3-1) PR: 93
Was impressively game taking shorter-stretch 1-1/16-mile Old Hickory after being pressed throughout in his latest. Kenneally is 18% effective with repeaters and this one looms controlling--and possibly lone—speed. Has inside position and stretches to distance at which he’s 1-for-1. Takes catching beneath Bravo.

3 – FEAR THE COWBOY (4-1) PR: 94
Was scratched from recent local stakes awaiting this favorable spot. Last was first rate placing at today’s distance, he likes the game, given (19) 6-5-1 lifetime slate, and a surface lover, too: (4) 2-1-1. Goes very well for Rios; major player and potential value for barn that’s otherworldly 34% effective with shippers.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)

Too early to put down this year’s Derby generation


One of many rites of spring is a premature disparaging of the latest Kentucky Derby crop.This year is no exception. I would argue we should hold off a while until we see how long McCraken and Malagacy can maintain their unbeaten records; whether Tapwrit's Tampa Bay Derby is a precursor of brilliant things to come; and if multiple stakes winner Gunnevera might be superior to all of them. Also, Arrogate's presence in the Dubai World Cup is this weekend's big event but there are three or four horses in the supporting UAE Derby who could become serious players in the Triple Crown races.



Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (17)
The road to Louisville goes through Tampa

Tampa Bay Downs has been evolving rapidly from Florida's other winter track into a circuit that has to be taken seriously at the highest level. It has produced a couple of Derby winners in the past decade and chances are good that the two betting favorites in this year's Derby will have come from the Sam F. Davis and Tampa Bay Derby.

In other Derby doings, Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown have the opportunity to inject some much needed star power into this year's downgraded Wood Memorial at their home citcuit.




Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (23)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
ARROGATE AND SMITH ON TOP OF THE WORLD

Saturday, March 25, 2017, Meydan Racecourse, Dubai: After missing the start and falling far behind, American champion Arrogate (USA) unleashed one of the most spectacular performances in the 22-year history of the Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline - and perhaps in all of racing worldwide…


Mar 26 | Categories: Emirates Racing Authority, |
Gulfstream Today 3.25.17

Sunday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover $1.239 Million
Six of Six Saturday Return $40,000
Pegasus World Cup (G1) Winner Arrogate Leads Gulfstream Runners in Dubai
Gaffalione Wins $500,000 Spiral


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-Rainbow 6 survived Saturday at…


Mar 26 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
$100,000 Skip Away (G3) Quotes

Trainer Efren Loza Jr. (Fear the Cowboy): “We made the decision to come back to Gulfstream because the horse has run before here. He loves this track. We really liked the distance, one mile and an eighth. We decided to bring him back to Gulfstream because the owners are from Florida and I’m from…


Mar 26 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Bevy of Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1) Workers at Palm Meadows

Video for Practical Joke, State of Honor and Unbridled Holiday

Fountain of Youth (G2) runner-up Practical Joke Breezes; “probable” for $1 million Florida Derby
State of Honor, Talk Logistics and Unbridled Holiday Confirmed Starters

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL


Mar 26 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
FAST AND ACCURATE STUNS SPIRAL STAKES AT 24-1, AIMS FOR KENTUCKY DERBY

FLORENCE, Ky. (March 25, 2017) – Bettors sent Fast and Accurate off at 24-1 in the $500,000 JACK Cincinnati Casino Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway Park Saturday and the colt obliged with a confident, three-quarter length win, giving owner Kendall Hansen another shot at the Run for the Roses.

Mar 26 | Categories: Turfway, |
Gulfstream Today 3.24.17

Guaranteed Pools Saturday in Rainbow 6, Late Pick 5, Late Pick 4
Saturday’s Rainbow 6 Pool $1.5 Million
Mandatory Rainbow 6 Payout Scheduled for Sunday, April 2
Kinsley Kisses Makes Triumphant Return in Friday Feature
“El Caribe” Palma and Alfonzo Handicap Saturday’s…


Mar 25 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
JACK CINCINNATI CASINO SPIRAL STAKES

TRAINERS LOOK WITH CONFIDENCE TO JACK CINCINNATI CASINO SPIRAL STAKES

FLORENCE, Ky. (March 24, 2017) – A strong runner-up finish in the Colts and Geldings Division of the OBS Championship Stakes at Ocala Training Center in January gave George “Rusty” Arnold II confidence…


Mar 25 | Categories: Turfway, |
Gulfstream Today: Sun 3/19

Wednesday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Grows to $865,950

Watch Pegasus Hero Arrogate Compete in Dubai Next Saturday

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved for the 18th consecutive program at Gulfstream Park Sunday, producing a carryover…


Mar 20 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Oaklawn Barn Notes: Rebel Stakes Update

REBEL STAKES

AMERICAN ANTHEM

American Anthem, Hall of Famer trainer Bob Baffert’s hopeful for the $900,000 Rebel Stakes-G2 at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, will break from post 7 in the field of 11 3-year-olds when the promising but lightly-raced colt meets…


Mar 16 | Categories: Oaklawn, |
STRONACH’S HOMEBRED SHAMAN GHOST WIN SANTA ANITA HANDICAP

STRONACH’S HOMEBRED SHAMAN GHOST OVERHAULS MIDNIGHT STORM TO WIN GRADE I, $750,000 SANTA ANITA HANDICAP BY THREE QUARTERS OF A LENGTH UNDER CASTELLANO; JERKENS TRAINEE GETS 1 ¼ MILES IN 2:01.57


ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) _ Shaman Ghost beat Midnight Storm by three-quarters of…


Mar 12 | Categories: Santa Anita, |
SANTA ANITA HANDICAP - STAKES QUOTES

SANTA ANITA HANDICAP
80TH RUNNING
GR. I, $750,000


JOCKEY QUOTES

JAVIER CASTELLANO, SHAMAN GHOST, WINNER: “I knew there wasn’t a lot of speed in the race so I just wanted to focus on the horse on the lead, Midnight Storm, and keep track of him.…


Mar 12 | Categories: Santa Anita, |
SAN FELIPE STAKES QUOTES

SAN FELIPE
GR. II, $400,000

JOCKEY QUOTES

MIKE SMITH, MASTERY, WINNER: Regarding Mastery, who was pulled up after the wire and taken back to the barn via horse ambulance after being evaluated by track vet, Dr. Dana Stead – “He seemed to just go off…


Mar 12 | Categories: Santa Anita, |