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

Churchill and Keeneland, Rivals No More

Money, money, money, money…money.

As it turns out, when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of the people in the Commonwealth and the perception of leadership both real and imagined, long-time rivals Churchill Downs and Keeneland are willing to put bragging rights aside when it comes to scooping up every betting dollar within its borders by opening two satellite tracks in the Kentucky hinterlands.

Not only would the proposed joint venture add to their respective bottom lines, but it has the added benefit of sticking a dagger into the hearts of both Ellis Park and Kentucky Downs, especially the latter, whose popularity with bettors went through the roof with its recently concluded record-setting boutique meet.

In America, everyone has a right to make a living and Churchill Downs Inc. has a mandated responsibility to grow its revenue as a publicly traded company. Keeneland, meanwhile, for which no one has ever suggested an interest in creating a fund-me page, is pulling out all stops mainly because it can.

And if sticking a knife into the heart of Kentucky Downs, which has basked in the national spotlight this month with its highly popular five-day session of unique turf racing and fan-friendly tax rates, that’s an added bonus.

Now we know the real reason for the outrageous takeout increase slated to begin at the Keeneland Fall meet: A homogeneous, maxed-out, tax-on-horseplayer-winnings that not only puts it in line with what CDI charges but sets the same high-rate table it would charge at the new facilities.

To paraphrase Bukowski, “dividends for all my friends!”


Written by John Pricci | Comments (34)
Saratoga Diary Prep: Spa Off to Blazing Start

Dear Diary,

I know you’re anxious to celebrate your 40th anniversary—yes, since 1977—but it can’t be a real diary unless you’re there. I will be, but first some matters on the home front that need my attention.

So, let’s call this the inaugural Simulcast Edition of Saratoga Diary, and that’s a good thing, too. No distractions like dinner plans, cocktails, visiting with old friends, favorite places. What remains is what happened between the fences.

I might not have been there but over 64,000 people were the first two days of Saratoga-148. Those are wow numbers, or as TJ was saying in the Gulfstream press box about Friday’s opening; that’s almost Travers-like.

Unlike Del Mar’s disappointing start, Saratoga opened on a roll with all-sources handle up 14% to $20.3 million on opening day. Saturday’s numbers were just as strong: $24.9 million from all sources.

Off the top, the headlines are: What’s with the main-track surface? Consecutive-years fast start for Kiaran McLaughlin. The Ortiz Brothers Show. And wait, there’s more:

Chad Brown, Bobblehead of Renown with a Saturday trifecta. Slow starts for Hall of Famers, Javier and Johnny V. The Greatness of Lady Eli. And what’s up with the Todd Two-Year-Olds?

FRIDAY JUL 21: Opening Day. It was clear from the jump, the “And They’re Off at Saratoga” for mid-level claimers, that the amount of kickback on the first turn was extraordinary. Can you say cuppy track?


Written by John Pricci | Comments (10)

How serious is racing about cleaning out cheaters?


The Jorge Navarro video scandal offers racing a golden opportunity to come down hard and demonstrate that it will not tolerate cheaters. Yet the reaction has been far less than decisive. Some jurisdictions have banned Navarro but others, including industry leader NYRA, have taken no meaningful action. This raises the question of whether the sport really wants to clean up its act or is just posturing when it says it does.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (20)
QUESTION to INDUSTRY: Why Should One Bet Be Taxed More Heavily Than Another?

The average takeout for straight bets is a little more than 17 percent. For exotics, it's more than 22 percent. How does this make sense? Why should the more difficult to hit bets be taxed more for the attempt? The answer is typical: This is the way it always has been done. Another argument is this pushes people into easier to hit pools. This is outrageous paternalism: We know what's better for you than you do. A dirty little secret is the heavily taxed exotics subsidize the rebates to the computer guys, who aren't even real horse players.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (71)

The Accidental Stakes Race

I made a gentlemen’s bet with TJ on Saturday and lost. I assured him that he’d probably get an email from the NTRA on Sunday announcing the guests who would appear on a national teleconference advancing the newly minted Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby.

Alas, no email was forthcoming, and neither was there the oft-presented Tuesday teleconference before major racing events. Saturday is the day Pennsylvania Thoroughbred fans look forward to every year.

Maybe somebody dropped a dime to the industry’s public relations organ that Jorge Navarro, aka “the juice man,” was about to drop the name Game Over into the Penn Derby entry box.

Or maybe they wanted to save the industry further advancement if tomorrow, Wednesday, the New Jersey Racing Commission ups the punishment ante for Navarro and his foul-mouthed owner, Randal Gindi, fined $5,000 by New Jersey stewards.

But the Pennsylvania Derby? With apologies to Sidney Carroll and Robert Rossen, who adapted Walter Tevis’s The Hustler to the silver screen: “This is Pennsylvania, mister. Ever heard of Fast Murray Rojas?”


Written by John Pricci | Comments (5)
The 15-30 Takeout Solution

If the clown in the White House can a make a deal with ineffectual Congressional Democrats, then surely racing’s stakeholders can compromise and find a solution to the parimutuel takeout problem.

The problem of course is that it’s too high. It’s just one of several issues why lifetime horseplayers are walking away from the game, and racing can ill-afford to lose any more old-schoolers who choose to walk away.

Takeout might not be right on the top of the list but it’s the kind of problem that’s fixable. Cost-cutting is never a bad thing; it’s promotable, gambling-centric and a way to lure young adults who prefer to mix some critical thinking with their gambling.

If do-able, a deal that helps all of racing’s stakeholders--from horseplayers of every stripe, to racetracks, to horsemen—is one that makes sense and long overdue.

This industry is one that does not work collectively because at once there as many agenda as there are racing jurisdictions. Lowering takeout won’t fix the drug problem or equine and human safety concerns but its good business.

Just as climate deniers are famously not scientists, I’m no mathematician. I leave that to better analytical minds than mine. So if someone wants to tweak the numbers that follow so that they make more sense and dollars, please have at it.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (89)

Are You Really Willing to Fight for Greater Integrity?

Attempts to organize horseplayers to collectively address issues that affect them adversely have seldom attracted sufficient support to achieve the desired result.

Although boycotts by players in response to takeout increases at Santa Anita in 2010, and at Churchill Downs in 2014, succeeded in lowering handle for those meets, the amount was not sufficient to substantially decrease short-term revenue from takeout, and the rates were never rolled back.

Yet another boycott is now being organized by the usual suspects, i.e., the HANA leadership, in response to Keeneland’s announced takeout hike effective next month.

I doubt the result will be any different this time around unless 1) The takeout issue is expanded beyond just rolling back rates to reforming takeout distribution and 2) The need for takeout reform is viewed as only one component of a larger integrity issue that would become the central justification for the planned protest.


Written by Indulto | Comments (21)
Horseplayers Need Leadership and a New Beginning; Possible Keeneland Boycott Gaining Momentum

Los Angeles, CA, August 19, 2017--Just when horseplayers thought takeout relief at a major racing venue was a real possibility following encouraging remarks by Tim Ritvo regarding Santa Anita’s future viability, Keeneland shed its former horseplayer-friendly mantle by announcing substantial increases to takeout rates for its upcoming fall meet.

Last November, U.S. voters voiced their dissatisfaction with the political status quo and used their collective strength to demand a change in course. Whether or not the proposed new course is the best one is not the issue here but at least now politicians recognize that the electorate can no longer be taken for granted.

Well, a similar lesson needs to be learned by racing’s empowered stakeholders. Not all regulators, horsemen’s groups and track operators have demonstrated the same disdain and disrespect for racing’s customers but those that have are doing so with impunity.



Written by Indulto | Comments (66)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Rainbow 6 Jackpot Hit for $93,555.42

Jaramillo Notches Fifth Multi-Win Day in a Row

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 jackpot was hit Saturday at Gulfstream Park, producing a $93,555.42 payoff for the only ticket with all six winners.

The winning combination was 7-1-2-12-2-4.


Sep 24 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Gunnevera Returns to the Worktab Saturday at Gulfstream Park West

Travers Runner-Up Breezed 4F in 49 Seconds for Breeders’ Cup Classic

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Margoth’s Gunnevera returned to the worktab at Gulfstream Park West Saturday for the first time since finishing second in the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga.

In preparation…


Sep 23 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Churchill Downs Barn Notes: Friday, Sept. 22, 2017

OAKS CONTENDER FARRELL READY FOR COMEBACK IN
SATURDAY’S $100,000 DOGWOOD PRESENTED BY GE APPLIANCES

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Friday, Sept. 22, 2017)
– Following a 141-day layoff, Coffee Pot Stables’ multiple graded stakes winner Farrell is set for her return to the races in Saturday…


Sep 23 | Categories: Churchill Downs, |
Rainbow 6 Carryover Grows to $32,840 for Friday’s Twilight Card

Jaramillo Stays Hot Thursday with Three Winning Rides

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved Thursday at Gulfstream Park, producing a $32,840.45 carryover jackpot for Friday’s 2:15 p.m. twilight program.

Multiple tickets with all six winners…


Sep 22 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Laurel Park News & Notes

Multiple Stakes Winner Phlash Phelps Out for the Year with Bone Bruising
Shimmering Aspen Entered in Saturday’s Charles Town Oaks (G3)
Impressive Maiden Winner Theodosia Exciting Prospect for Team Lynch
Lucky in Malibu Likely Stakes-Bound Again After Allowance Win
Miracle…


Sep 22 | Categories: Laurel, |
Double Pick 6 carryover of $63k Friday at Belmont Park

ELMONT, N.Y. - Horseplayers will be greeted with a two-day Pick 6 carryover of $63,018 for Friday's live racing program at Belmont Park. The multi-race wager begins in Race 4 with an approximate post time of 3:04 p.m.

Thursday's Pick 6 sequence kicked off in race 5 with Classic Covey ($9.80)…


Sep 22 | Categories: Belmont Park, |
Churchill Downs Barn Notes: Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017

LIGHTLY-RACED COVENANT ATTEMPS FIRST STAKES VICTORY IN
SATURDAY’S $100,000 DOGWOOD STAKES PRESENTED BY GE APPLIANCES

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017)
– Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott currently has a one-win advantage (701-700 wins) over Dale Romans in the all-time…


Sep 22 | Categories: Churchill Downs, |
NTRA STATEMENT ON PASSING OF PENNY CHENERY

"Whether as the owner of Secretariat, the brilliant Triple Crown Champion she campaigned nearly a half-century ago, or as a leader and ambassador for the sport she loved, Penny Chenery led an extraordinary life that touched Thoroughbred racing fans and others in a unique and personal way. Thankfully,…


Sep 18 | Categories: Horse Racing, |
Chublicious Makes the Grade in $250,000 De Francis Dash (G3)

Sprint Tops Seven Stakes Worth $900,000 on Fall Festival of Racing Program
LAUREL, MD – David Gruskos’ multiple stakes winner Chublicious, dismissed as the longest shot in the four-horse field, collared stubborn front-runner Blue Moon Ace in mid-stretch and emerged from their duel to the wire…


Sep 18 | Categories: Laurel, |
Gulfstream News & Notes: Fri 9/15/2017

Surprise Wedding Favored for Turf Debut in Miss Gracie
Mama Joyce Seeks Repeat in $50,000 Sea of Grass Handicap
Saturday’s 11-Races Draw 113 Horses
Gaffalione Road Show Makes Stop at Laurel Saturday


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – A half-sister to the Sept.…


Sep 15 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Laurel Park News & Notes

G3 Winner Mr. Jordan ‘50-50’ for $250,000 De Francis Dash (G3)
Karamanos Replaces Injured Carrasco on Chublicious for De Francis
Gaffalione Road Show Makes Stop at Laurel Park Saturday


LAUREL, MD
– David Melin, Leon Ellman and Laurie Plesa’s multiple…


Sep 15 | Categories: Laurel, |
Laurel: Fall Festival of Racing

Fall Festival of Racing an Exciting Time for Laurel Park and Bettors

Graded Races, Full Turf Fields, Events Every Weekend

LAUREL, MD - Saturday’s Fall Festival of Racing, featuring the $250,000 De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) and six other stakes, is just…


Sep 15 | Categories: Laurel, |