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
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

Cuomo’s re-privatization of NYRA proposal loaded with land mines

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has come up with another proposal to re-privatize NYRA. It would include night racing at Belmont and fewer winter dates at Aqueduct. Each of these is sure to stir opposition from horsemen and citizen activist groups. This might be Cuomo's intention. He could delay turning back NYRA and blame it on others.




Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (9)
Masochistic BC ban should be the model for drug offenses

The Breeders' Cup has introduced a new penalty for drug violations. They are banning Masochistic from competing in next year's events. This is an idea that deserves wider consideration. If owners knew they would not only lost a purse but also the use of their horse, they would not be so tolerant of cheater trainers.


Written by Tom Jicha | Comments (6)

Vegas Line: Chrome 4-5; Arrogate 1-1

By Press Release

Although defeated by Arrogate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), California Chrome was listed as the 4-5 favorite for the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) when the opening line at the Wynn Las Vegas Race & Sports Book was released.

Arrogate, who finished a half-length in front of California Chrome in the Classic, their first meeting, was made the second choice at even-money for the inaugural running of the 1 1/8-mile race.

The opening lines for the remainder of the expected 12-horse field is as follows: Noble Bird (12-1); Keen Ice (20-1); Neolithic (20-1); Shaman Ghost (25-1); Breaking Lucky (25-1); Eragon (40-1); War Envoy (50-1); War Story (50-1); Ralis (50-1); and Prayer for Relief (75-1).

CHROME: A Sunday Kind of Love


Written by John Pricci | Comments (3)
Oaklawn Park, a Track That Gets It

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., January 8, 2017—In an attempt to make their on-track fans happier than they already are, Oaklawn Park, which opens this Friday, is offering a bonus on winning show bets.

Read lower takeout here: And the track is doing it the right way!

The new Show Bet Bonus will increase the winning payout by 7 percent, according to Oaklawn official Bobby Geiger. Why? Because show wagering is very popular there, accounting for over 12 percent of on-track handle in a typical year.

Oaklawn takeout on straight wagers is set at 17 percent across the board. With the bonus, the show rake will be 10 percent. a seven percent bonus for winning show bettors.

The different payoff levels, to be displayed on the track's infield tote boards, will show one price for simulcast customers and what is paid on track, so everyone can see the difference.

I’m officially jealous and disappointed that I cannot take advantage of the opportunity. My personal betting rules re: straight pools is generally win and place at 5-1 or lower; win and show at higher odds, using exactas as a “place bet.”

Many, myself included, thanks to my late friend Cary Fotias, and now California racing activist Andy Asaro, have supported lower takeout and breakage elimination for years as a means of creating new fans and bring old ones back to the track.

Every track executive, and every horseman, should support the "Oaklawn Plan" with marketing that emphasizes simpler, straight wagers with lower takeout to increase churn.

Reduced takeout worked in New York long term on an experimental basis decades ago, but current, short-sighted practitioners everywhere are unwilling to accept short term revenue declines. As the Bloviater-Elect might tweet, #stupid!


Written by John Pricci | Comments (35)

Even in Small Ways, The Meadowlands Keeps Trying

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., January 17, 2017—It is no secret that horse racing in New Jersey is in trouble and has been for some time. Competition from casino-enhanced purses in neighboring racing states has dealt a serious blow to its economic viability.

But unlike, say, California, the Garden State’s woes can’t be attributed to lack of trying. Contrarily, when it comes to new ideas, it can be argued New Jersey is one of horse racing’s most progressive jurisdictions and has been for some time.

New Jersey was the first to embrace exchange wagering in the U.S., and while that concept hasn’t set the horse-betting world on fire, it has raised awareness that expansion is possible via diversification and choice given its appeal to a Wall Street mentality.

Exchange wagering pits player against players or player vs. crowd by locking-in prices based on handicapping skill and knowledge of the public’s betting habits. At once, players have diversification and control over their money.

In an effort to spur business, The Meadowlands lowered parimutuel takeout to 15% across the board at its brief all-turf meet. But lowering takeout works best only over the sustained trial periods needed to overcome near term revenue shortfall.

In order to attract people into their buildings or online bet shops, New Jersey horse interests have lobbied for sports wagering, with its venues as gateway, a concept that has received governmental support, then not; public support, then not again.

At blame is hypocritical right-wing attitudes toward gambling and because New York casino interests and sports leagues have lobbied against competitive racinos that are 20 minutes from Manhattan or Westchester County.

Whatever it’s tried, New Jersey has been stymied to the point where horse racing is rapidly becoming unsustainable.

The pressure to stop the bleeding by any means necessary occurred recently when The Meadowlands decided to computerize it the harness-racing morning line earlier this month.

In the big picture this looks like a small issue, but it’s indicative of the fact that horse racing everywhere is failing in its attempts to keep the fans it has, never mind attracting a new audience.


Written by John Pricci | Comments (14)
Interesting, Puzzling Year for Eclipse Award Voters

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., January 2, 2017—In a recent online poll, roughly three out of every four respondents thought that 2016 was a good year for racing. In light of what happened between the fences, I agree.

There were many great performances and memorable moments. As for the rest of the year, we have chronicled the game’s shortcomings here too much already, so we’ll await another time, another day for that.

Please note, however, I must disagree with those who posted that a good number of categories with respect to making cases for 2016’s Eclipse champions were open and shut. Far from that, in our view.

Either way, here is what one final ballot looked like for the racing year 2016 and the thinking process behind some of our choices. But first, our annual disclaimers that all folks who care about such things should know.

As one of the late, great founding members of the National Turf Writers once counseled, there are no rules: “The Horse of the Year can be anything,” said Joe Hirsch. The same applies to other categories; some champions are obvious, others in a beholder’s eyes.

But what it shouldn’t be is a popularity contest or a predictor of who will win. It should be about voting your conscience in the face of peer pressure and regionalism. To wit:

When one California-based horseman was polled on Horse of the Year, his response was: “California Chrome, Art Sherman’s my man.” Friendship and loyalty are wonderful things but Sherman could have gotten this support on the merits: Superb management!

Here, then, is one man’s ballot. [Voters must cast a 1-2-3 vote in order for the category to count or he can abstain].


Written by John Pricci | Comments (9)

New York State Government Dithering

ELMONT, NY, January 10, 2017 – Finger Lakes Gaming and Race Track is in a heap of financial trouble. The upstate track, in Farmington, NY, opened in 1962, and may not make it much further than its 55th year.

The foremost problem for Finger Lakes is the $440 million del Lago Resort & Casino based in Waterloo, NY, scheduled to open next month. The casino is an hour’s drive from the racetrack.

Most casinos have supported racetracks in this state and rightfully so. Casino interests have used racing’s presence to grandfather through additional gambling. Del Lago, however, has no such ties since the Seneca Nation has exclusive casino rights in its region.

The problem became twofold when the Finger Lakes Horsemen Benevolent Protective Association held out on a contract regarding simulcast revenue. Late Tuesday afternoon a tweet appeared from Finger Lakes Gaming indicating they had reached an accord, and simulcasting will resume on Wednesday, January 11.

Finger Lakes was New York’s first racino but racetracks are restricted by law from expansion since only video lottery terminals are permitted in racinos. Del Lago, conversely, is a full service Las Vegas style casino.

So that’s the issue: VLT’s vs full service casinos. What’s truly problematic is that what happens at Finger Lakes can be a harbinger of how things might go at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has a bill on his desk [S7918A] now that would reprivatize the New York Racing Association if he signs it by the end of this month.

Cuomo stated in 2012, after he wrested control of NYRA, that he would reprivatize NYRA in three years. We are now into year five and Cuomo still hasn’t kept his word on reprivatization.

If the past is prologue, and past performances are a truer measure than words, this bill will remained unsigned.


Written by Mark Berner | Comments (23)
L’Affaire Masochistic Was Completely Avoidable

ELMONT, NY, December 27, 2016--Anabolic Steroids are performance enhancing drugs. Why they are still allowed boggles the mind. Thoroughbred racing in America is a sport with a poor public image and industry regulators have accomplished little to correct a problem that never goes away.

The perception is that we drug race horses without regard for their welfare for financial gain, whether via purses or wagers. Then we compound the problem at the end of their racing careers by allowing them to starve or sending them to slaughter houses.

Racing’s optics are horrible and that’s no way to run a sport.

Anabolic steroids were first synthesized in a Swiss laboratory in 1934. Its misuse in Thoroughbred racehorses was first reported in 1941.

Seventy-five years later, racing is still suffering scandals related to the drug and half efforts to rid the sport of anabolic steroids after such a long run seem insincere at best.

Trainer Ron Ellis used a performance enhancer while training Masochistic up to the Breeders Cup Sprint.

In the final analysis, Masochistic tested positive when less than 200 picograms [a picogram is one-trillionth of a gram] of stanozolol remained in blood and urine samples taken after he finished second on November 5 at Santa Anita Park.

Ellis gambled on race day and lost, and so did the entire sport of Thoroughbred racing. A system that continues to allow events like this to occur is one that has gone terribly wrong.


Written by Mark Berner | Comments (19)



 


Track News Releases
Track News Releases
Gulfstream Today 1.20.17

Rainbow 6 Carryover of $45,000 for Saturday Program
Breakfast at Gulfstream and California Chrome Saturday Morning

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Gulfstream's 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved Friday creating a jackpot carryover of $45,677.54 for Saturday’s 12-race program.

Jan 21 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Gulfstream News & Notes:  Fri 1/20

Poseidon Possible for G1-Placed Cherry Wine Pending Saturday Work
Moment of Delight Ready for Debut in Sunshine Millions Distaff
Winter Vacation Nearly Over for Multiple Stakes Winner Cajun Delta Dawn

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL –Cherry Wine ran with some of the best…


Jan 21 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
A Day of Stars at Gulfstream Park

Public Invited to California Chrome's Final Workout Saturday
Sunshine Millions Leads Saturday's 12-Race Program
Stars Come Out Saturday Night for Eclipse Awards

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Gulfstream Park will play host to the stars from morning until evening Saturday.

Jan 21 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Triple Pick 6 carryover of $306K Saturday at Aqueduct

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The Pick 6 went unsolved for the third straight day on Friday at Aqueduct Racetrack, triggering a three-day carryover of $306,342 into Saturday's live racing card.




Jan 21 | Categories: Aqueduct, |
Hoppertunity, Stanford, Charming Kitten on Pegasus Undercard

111 Horses Nominated for Five Supporting Stakes (Video Links)

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) winner Hoppertunity leads a group of graded stakes winners that are among the 111 horses nominated to the five supporting stakes races, three of them graded, on…


Jan 20 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Takrees seeks first stakes win in Sunday’s Interborough

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Shadwell Stable's homebred Takrees will look for her first stakes win after a couple of close finishes as part of a field of seven in the 96th running of the $100,000 Interborough for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up at six furlongs on the inner dirt track Sunday at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Jan 20 | Categories: Aqueduct, |
Oaklawn Barn Notes:  Thu 1/19

Santana Jr. Set to Return Friday

Four-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. is scheduled to return to the saddle Friday after missing the first five days of the meeting because of five race-related suspensions stemming from the 2016 season.

Santana was facing…


Jan 20 | Categories: Oaklawn, |
Gulfstream Today 1.16.17

Monday’s Rainbow 6 Solved for $72,179 Jackpot Payoff
Super Hi-5 Carryover of $8,289 Slated for Wednesday’s 1st Race

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 20-cent Rainbow 6 was solved for the second time in three racing days Monday at Gulfstream Park, producing a jackpot…


Jan 17 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
Green Gratto fends off late charge to win G3 Toboggan

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Green Gratto surged to the early lead from the inside post, set the pace and outkicked a charging All Star Red in deep stretch to capture the 124th running of the Grade 3, $125,000 Toboggan for 4-year-olds and up on the inner dirt track Monday at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Owned…


Jan 17 | Categories: Aqueduct, |
Gulfstream Today 1.15.17

Triple Crown Prospect Gunnevera Gearing Up for G2 Holy Bull
Impressive Edge a 3-Year-Old of Interest after Maiden Win
Rainbow 6 Carryover, Super Hi-5 Carryovers for Monday’s Holiday Program
Luis Saez Makes Four Visits to Winner’s Circle Sunday

HALLANDALE…


Jan 16 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
G1 Winner Noble Bird in Pegasus Mix Following Sunday Breeze

California Chrome Exits Work in Good Order
Argentine Star Eragon also well after his Pegasus move

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - John C. Oxley’s Noble Bird, whose multiple graded stakes wins include the 2015 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1), is under consideration for the $12 million…


Jan 15 | Categories: Gulfstream, |
FAVORITE TERRA PROMESSA WINS $125,000 PIPPIN

HOT SPRINGS, AR (Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017) – A return to Hot Springs brought Terra Promessa back to her winning ways as she scored a front-running victory in Saturday’s $125,000 Pippin Stakes in front of 16,000 on-track fans. The four-year-old Curlin filly, winner of last year’s Honeybee (G3) and…


Jan 15 | Categories: Oaklawn, |