HRI Featured Writers
HRI Featured Writers

Pricci’s Free Race Analysis

Five days per week, John Pricci will provide analysis of that day's feature race. His long term approach, combining visual interpretation with informed Energy Figures, has resulted in a positive ROI since the feature's inception, from May, 2007 through the latest results.

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

Rolling Another One, Just Like the Other One

With Saturday’s El Camino Real of little consequence in the big picture, there is no change to HRI’s initial Derby Power 10, but we can assure you there will be in Week 3 next weekend.

On Monday, Uncontested will try to reaffirm his position as a serious Kentucky Derby contender by confirming his Smarty Jones form in the G3 Southwest at Oaklawn Park.

Mo Town finally will get his season started in Saturday’s G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds.

Meanwhile, the HRI cold exacta has lots of verification in many with virtually no argument against the top two at this juncture other than flat-out opinion.

As stated last week, the HRI poll at once tries to balance racetrack accomplishment with the promise of things to come, according to HRI staffers.

HRI’s Kentucky Derby Power 10, Week 1:

1-McCRAKEN (39): Undefeated Sam F. Davis Memorial winner will have three preps for the big dance, the second of 2017 will be back in Oldsmar for the Tampa Bay Derby.
2-IRISH WAR CRY (36): Graham Motion still mulling his options for the brilliant, undefeated colt but indicated his next run will come in South Florida. The March 4 Fountain of Youth is squarely on the table.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (0)
McCraken Debuts at #1 in HRI’s Derby Power 10

OLDSMAR, FL, Feb. 12, 2017—Judging by yesterday’s sweeping turn move that has become his signature since he began distance racing last fall, it doesn’t appear that trainer Ian Wilkes will be able to lower expectations wherever his undefeated McCraken shows up next.

In extending his undefeated career slate to 4-for-4, the son of Ghostbuster, from the Seeking the Gold mare, Ivory Empress, powered passed eight rivals and to the top slot of the Kentucky Derby Power 10 in HorseRaceInsider’s initial 3-year-old poll of 2017.

His narrow margin over last week’s impressive Holy Bull Stakes winner, Irish War Cry, gives every indication that this is going to be a highly contentious playoffs run as sophomore racers prepare for the “mile and a quarter without any water” on May’s first Saturday.

With the exception of seventh-ranked Gunnevera, who took a few starts before getting his act together and his races lengthened, the other 10 runners on the list—there was a tie for last slot between Uncontested and Practical Joke—are a combined 15-for-19 lifetime.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (16)

Of Islanders Wishes and Belmont Carnation Dreams

Chad Brown earned an Eclipse Award for outstanding trainer of 2016 and he owes a lot of that success to the late Hall of Fame trainer, Bobby Frankel. Brown was Frankel’s assistant from 2002 to 2007.

"Brooklyn Bobby" Frankel was enshrined in racing’s pantheon in 1995. He trained champions and many who worked for him went on to have their own successful careers.

Brown is just the latest example; one of the first was the late Joe Trovato.

Trovato was also a Brooklyn native. He started his career as a jockey agent and in the 1960s was successful with Avelino Gomez, Bill Boland, Manny Ycaza and Larry Adams. He became Frankel’s assistant in 1969.

Two years later, Trovato took out his trainer’s license and three years after that, in 1974, he trained the 3-year-old filly champion, Hall of Famer Chris Evert.

Owner Carl Rosen named the filly for the tennis champion that acted as a spokesperson for the sportswear line produced by his company, Puritan Fashions.

The 1970’s was a heady time for Trovato. He did well enough to get season’s tickets for the New York Islanders, then a young hockey team that was on the cusp of winning four straight Stanley Cup titles.

Trovato’s first million dollar season was in 1979, the same year the Islanders won the NHL championship for the first time, a period spanning the in the 1979-80 hockey season.

There was a strong connection among those who worked at Belmont Park and the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The two facilities are seven and a half miles apart and located on the same road, Hempstead Turnpike.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (22)
In All Things, Truth Matters

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA, is an organization that claims to be something it is not. Organizations that kill four out of every five animals it takes in are not ethical.

PETA’s dirty little secret is that no matter how many animals it claims to save, it kills many times more. PETA’s website claims it to be the most compassionate way to deal with stray animals. If this is PETA being compassionate, I can’t imagine what their bad side is like.

According to Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services data obtained via public records request—get your facts now before they are wiped—PETA took in 6,480 animals in 2013-2015. In those three years, 1009 were transferred, 145 were adopted (2.20%) but 5,562 were killed (85.8%).

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen knows all about PETA as he was one that came into contact with the organization’s dark side. A failed sting operation, set up by PETA in Asmussen’s barn in 2013, exposed the depths PETA employs to create alternative facts.

At least, thankfully, it exposed the problems involved with the use of Thyroxine. “Gets them hyped up,” one of his assistants told a PETA spy. (The use of Thyroxine was not limited to Asmussen’s operation, of course).

PETA’s main goal is to raise money and it’s good at doing so, taking in hundreds of millions of dollars in donations from people who expect it not to do some of the things it does. The money is needed to run their self-perpetuating operation.

Yes, PETA is a business, and it has a yearly operating budget that approaches $50 million. But when PETA spends money to create alt-facts, it crosses the line.

Written by Mark Berner | Comments (14)

Winning is the only thing, according to a Derby trend

One loss shouldn't dash the hopes of Kentucky Derby prospects but a trend over the past five years indicates that it's a bad omen. The five most recent Derby winners have gone 12-for-12 in their preps. Throw out a defeat in a grass race by Animal Kingdom and another year is added to the streak. Meanwhile, the likelihood of sports betting winning approval in the courts or by Congress grows. But would this be a bad thing for racing?

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (16)
Shed a tear for Hialeah thanks to latest travesty

Hialeah, still beautiful as ever, continues to descend into racing oblivion. The latest travesty is as outrageous as the Metropolitan Museum of Art being transformed into a brothel would be. A quarterhorse meet has been used to justify Hialeah being allowed to operate a slots casino and poker room. Now that is being abandoned in favor of some sort of sham racing where as few as two horses gallop--in a manner of speaking--down a path. The only consolation is, it might not come to pass if decoupling is approved by the Florida legislature this spring.

Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (4)

A Costly But Fun Day at Tampa Bay

In the modern era, I’ve always thought of Tampa Bay Downs, the old stomping grounds of a race caller named Tom Durkin, as “The Little Track That Could.”

Back in the day, it completed a circuit with Finger Lakes and other small U.S. tracks and one year, if memory serves, it had a jockey colony a 100+ riders, half of whom you’ve never heard of, then or since.

But ever since it began getting noticed by the Horseplayers Association of North America for its player friendly menu of big competitive fields, replete with a great turf course and a demanding, safe, albeit sometimes quirky, main track.

Tampa’s been growing in all the right places while maintaining the character it’s always had, a quaint, friendly place that presents racing old school style, one appreciated not only by people from my generation but those of present and future compeers.

It’s still very much a place for racing fans, families and, of course, has developed into one of winter racing’s more popular simulcast signals, holding its own with much bigger kids on the block.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (15)
No Longer a Myth, Pegasus Soars

In a game built on history and hope, there never has been anything like this. In nearly five decades on the racetrack, nothing we’ve seen matched the level of anticipation and appreciation for the sport that was on display Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

Or, as winning trainer Bob Baffert put it: “They really pulled it off.”

There was no Triple Crown on the line, only two great champions in a reprise of what became an instant rivalry: America’s Horse and his groupies in pitched battle with a newly crowned Horse in the World.

We are blessed to have spent countless exciting days on the job and have seen pretty much everything there is to see in a sport where no one can nor will ever see it all.

The thrill of watching fast and beautiful beasts in competition, straining into their bridles and against each other, beneath men whose hearts are as big as their bodies are diminutive.

Written by John Pricci | Comments (32)


Track News Releases
Track News Releases

Well-Bred 3-Year-old Filly Debuts with ‘Fabulous’ Victory
Saturday’s Card to Feature Guaranteed Multi-Race Wager Pools
Late Pick 4 - $300,000; Late Pick 5 - $200,000; Rainbow 6 - $200,000
Carryovers for Friday's Card: Super Hi-5 - $47,815; Rainbow 6 - $35,494

Feb 17 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Toni Tools goes against state breds again in Sunday’s Franklin Square

Rice enters formidable pair for Broadway

- Toni Tools will look to continue her success in stakes races in headlining a 10-horse field in the third running of the $100,000 Franklin Square for New York-bred 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs on the inner dirt track…

Feb 17 | Categories: Aqueduct, |

OLDSMAR, FL. – McCraken lived up to all the hype. And then some.

The unbeaten 3-year-old colt extended his record to 4-for-4 with a one-and-a-half length victory from Tapwrit in the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in stakes and track-record time of 1:42.45…

Feb 12 | Categories: Tampa Bay Downs, |

OLDSMAR, FL. – After a troubled start cost Inspector Lynley all chance in the Tropical Park Derby on Dec. 31, jockey John Velazquez asked trainer Claude “Shug” McGaughey to let him ride the colt in his next start.

The two Hall of Fame members got the best out of Inspector Lynley…

Feb 12 | Categories: Tampa Bay Downs, |

OLDSMAR, FL. – Before the $100,000 Suncoast Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, all eyes were on 3-10 favorite Elate from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer William Mott.

That was just the way the connections of Tapa Tapa Tapa liked it.

Racing on dirt for the first time in…

Feb 12 | Categories: Tampa Bay Downs, |
Gulfstream Today 2.11.17

Sunday Rainbow 6 Carryover $90,000

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Gulfstream Park's 20-cent Rainbow 6 will have a carryover of $90,184.74 when racing resumes Sunday afternoon.

Multiple winning tickets in Saturday's Rainbow 6, which included victories by Almanaar in the…

Feb 12 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
$350,000 Hardacre Mile Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) Quotes

Trainer Jorge Navarro (Sharp Azteca): “I couldn’t have asked for a better plan. Breaking was slow, they kind of bumped him and I was like, ‘Whoa, what happened?’ When [Blofeld] went with him, that’s what I wanted. I really wanted a horse to go with him, because this horse can get lazy. If you…

Feb 12 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
$150,000 Suwannee River (G3) Quotes

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin (Dickinson): “[Her last race] was a funny effort. Johnny Velazquez is not only a great Hall of Fame rider, he’s a friend; he just came back and said I couldn’t get her to go around the turn. Thinking back she hadn’t gone two turns before, so maybe that helped us today…

Feb 12 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
$350,000 Gulfstream Park Turf (G1) Quotes

Trainer Chad Brown (Almanaar): “He ran great the last race. The other horse [Flatlined] beat him fair and square, he followed him the whole race. Joe Bravo, riding the Flatlined horse, got up at wire and beat him. I think this horse today had a little more room to work at an mile and an eighth. He…

Feb 12 | Categories: Gulfstream, |

OLDSMAR, FL. – The rock stars are coming to Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday.
With three graded stakes races on the Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South card, and $650,000 in stakes purse money on the line, some of the world’s top trainers and greatest jockeys will be on the scene.

Feb 9 | Categories: Tampa Bay Downs, |


OLDSMAR, FL. – A few railbirds did a double-take today when they spotted Arnaud Delacour, the trainer of Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes entrant No Dozing, schooling the colt in the paddock between races.

With six workouts…

Feb 8 | Categories: Tampa Bay Downs, |
Gulfstream Today 2.8.17

Overnight Stakes Win Puts Third Day on Triple Crown Trail
Sophomore Colt Ends Layoff Winning $60,000 Just One More
Guaranteed Pools in Pick 4, Pick 5, Rainbow 6 for Saturday Feb. 11
20-Cent Rainbow 6 Carryover $10,770 for Thursday


Feb 8 | Categories: Gulfstream, |