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

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 (0)
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)

Skip to the Windows

The following handicapping thumbnail of Saturday's Gulfstream Park feature race courtesy of 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

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)
Behind Scenes Progress in Santa Anita Boycott Dispute

As far as the Santa Anita Boycott, scheduled for Mar. 23-27, is concerned, there is good news and bad news. But it appears a mini-crisis has been averted.

The bad is that without official backing of the Horseplayers Association of North America, it is highly unlikely that a boycott would be as successful as previous actions leveled against Santa Anita and Churchill Downs in the recent past.

The boycott does have the support of enough big bettors to make a dent, at least, have some negative impact on betting handle.

The good news is that a boycott may not be necessary at all. All the elements are currently in place to correct the poor California rule with respect to the Perfect 6 jackpot carryover, which occurs in the event of one race becoming an “ALL” and there is no perfect ticket.

Jeff Platt, President of HANA, called this morning to bring HRI up to speed about how his organization has been dealing with the issue behind the scenes in the name of political expediency.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (12)

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)

HRI’s Kentucky Derby Super Hi-5

Timing is everything in life does not qualify as stop-the-presses advice. But it is the reason why we’re altering the format of HRI’s Triple Crown rankings. After all, it’s only seven weeks out from the Kentucky Derby.

However, since there remains an overwhelming amount of development time before anyone visits their favorite betting hub, it’s appropriate to zero in on the personal observations of our staff and at once raise questions in the process. To wit:

Is this finally the year Todd Pletcher wins Derby #2, the same year that Bob Baffert lacks a major May player? Because, right now, it doesn’t appear that the 2017 Derby winner will be shipping in from the Golden State.

Unless, of course, it’s a filly but it doesn’t look like Jerry Hollendorfer is going to leap off the Oaks bandwagon. But you would think that his next target could be, say, the Santa Anita Derby. What colt is out there to fear at present?

And nothing says that you must race in the Kentucky Derby thereafter. And a Santa Anita Derby victory could make her a Horse of the Year finalist at season’s end should she maintain her present dominatrix status.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (20)
This Game Tugs at Your Heart from Both Sides

“God help me I do love it so,” said George C. Scott as “Patton” in the 1970 Academy Award-winning eponymous film, as the legendary General surveyed the carnage remaining from the previous day’s battle.

On Saturday, simulcasters were left to their own devices to see what happened after watching Mike Smith dismount from the immensely talented, undefeated Mastery on the clubhouse turn following a tour de force romp in the San Felipe Stakes.

Fans could see Smith at the colt’s head as he awaited assistance before the camera turned away and all that remained was hearing track announcer Michael Wrona informing the crowd that Smith was removing the tack from the dark bay son of Candy Ride.

But there was one telling image from the replay taken from an inside camera where upon galloping out Mastery made a godawful lead change, awkwardly and desperately jumping over to his right lead at that point.

It turned out to be a condylar fracture of the left foreleg that will require surgery Monday for the Cheyenne Stable runner who had just won his fourth lifetime start without defeat, his third at the graded level.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (30)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases

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 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


Mar 26 | Categories: Gulfstream, |

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, |


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



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, |


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

Mar 12 | Categories: Santa Anita, |

GR. I, $750,000


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, |

GR. II, $400,000


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, |