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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL. December 2, 2022 – Last weekend it was Churchill Downs in the spotlight as they lowered the curtain on their fall meet. This Saturday, it’s the bright lights of Ozone Park that will command national attention.

And, turf fans, the new lawn at Gulfstream will be showcased in a big way with six grass races scheduled. The weather forecast thus far indicates that those races will go as carded. It’s South Florida, so we shall see.

The Cigar Mile, the final Grade 1 of the New York season, is the day’s highlight.

But, first, this aside on the lack of imagination displayed by the NYRA racing office.

We understand that the Pick 5 has supplanted the Pick 4 in popularity, for obvious reasons, but why not give fans an opportunity to wager on an all-takes Pick 4, as the featured Cigar is preceded by the Demoiselle, Remsen and Go for Wand.

Completing Saturday’s Pick 5 is a starter allowances. Could that race not have been scheduled as the day’s sixth, so that both Pick 5 and All-Stakes Pick 4 bettors could be accommodated? Rocket science this is not. Mini-rant over.

All four stakes does not offer the strongest editions ever carded–their place on the racing calendar being responsible for some of that–but two of the races will serve their intended purpose: Seeing how far these babies can run.

The 1-1/8 mile Demoiselle attracted seven fillies and four are interesting. 1-Foggy Night (5-1) was a game pace-setting runnerup following prolonged pace battle in the one-turn Tempted mile last out. Given today’s dynamics, consider that Paco might shake loose from the pole position. Best upset chance.

6-Gambling Girl (8-1) has the most experience, has won a state-bred stakes, and gets Irad in the boot. 5-Affirmative Lady (10-1) is a maiden but comes into this off graduating sprint distances at which she’s run well for Graham Motion, who knows how to do this.

Of course, late-season juvenile events are usually Todd Shows. Pletcher will saddle deserving favorite Julia Shining (3-5) a most impressive winner on 7-furlong debut at Keeneland.

This baby is a typical, regally bred Stonestreet production, being by Curlin, from A.P. Indy’s daughter Dreaming of Julia, herself a Frizette winner.* An individual with plenty of scope, she is a very exciting prospect. 6-Gambling Girl (8-1), “the other Todd,” has a useful prep for this in state-bred Maid of the Mist.

The Remsen, which last year foreshadowed major three-year-old players Mo Donegal and Zandon (today’s Cigar Mile favorite) attracted seven, but this appears a two-horse affair between 2-Tuskeegee Airmen (8-5) and 4-Arctic Arrogance (2-1). Note that 6-Quick to Accuse (6-1) was a game runnerup to ‘Arrogance’ in a strongly run final quarter-mile

John Servis’ high-flying colt is 2-for-2, including the two-turn Rocky Run mile at Delaware Park. He broke maiden on debut at Parx, and has all the pedigree needed for today’s extended trip. Paco Lopez had to do an awful lot of motivating to find ‘Tuskegee’s’ best stride. Distance helps; blinkers needed?

Arctic Arrogance is a Chet & Mary Broman homebred sporting a (3) 2-1-0 slate, including a comprehensive win in the state-bred Sleepy Hollow. From an Uncle Mo mare and coming up to his two-turn debut the right way, he will take some beating. 6-Quick to Accuse (6-1), runnerup to ‘Arctic, is forward-looking and pedigree says probably to added distance, but bottom side would love it wet.

This could get interesting as the crowd might make the wrong favorite here. Just loved the way he handled pressure and drew off in midstretch following a late lead change.

On paper, the Go for Wand for fillies and mares 3 & up going a flat mile, is the best betting race of the four. It has drawn a field of 11 and is a wide open affair.

On first pass, we left six of the 11 open, but early favorites, 3-Battle Bling (3-1) and 10-Bank Sting (4-1) loom the most-probable ticket toppers. Battle Bling has really come to hand in the fall of her four-year-old season, riding a three-race win streak into this. And she likes Queens, too: (5) 2-3-0.

Five-year-old Bank Sting, meanwhile, is the most prolific, given a lifetime slate of (13) 8-2-0 and is 6-for-8, including a placing, on this oval. An outside post augurs well, as does the presence of regular pilot Joel Rosario.

1-Love in the Air (10-1) has improved dramatically this fall, is 1-for-1 at the trip and in the wet; pole and Paco. 7-Dr. B (4-1) is unknown at the trip but Reid is 27% first-time long and gets Irad’s timing and strength. 8-Betsy Blue (6-1) has been nurtured as Linda Rice outstanding 31% routing off two straight sprints. After replays, race didn’t get any easier.

The Cigar Mile features seven runners of which three; the forementioned favorite, 2-Zandon (1-1), 7-Mind Control (5-2), and 3-White Abarrio (9-2), are the major players.

The favorite, runnerup to three-year-old Eclipse finalist Taiba in the PA Derby last time out, shows eight regularly-scheduled works since that SEP 24 outing. He will be making a strong late bid beneath Rosario.

Older Mind Control will spot him a couple of pounds, but loves it here, (7) 4-2-1 at the Big A and also is a top miler, as his (5) 4-1-0 confirms. The outside going a flat mile here with Johnny is never a bad thing, especially now with speedy O Besos sitting this out. Odds of 5-2 would be more than fair but is highly unlikely ante post.

While White Abarrio, switching to Irad, has underachieved since the G1 Florida Derby, his best go in our view came at Gulfstream in an optional-allowances under today’s conditions at 2. Since his wrong-tactics front-run in the PA Derby, it’s been nothing but bullet drills since.




EARLY LINE VALUE: Affirmative Lady

EXOTICA and STRAIGHT WAGERS: Exacta Wheel 3 // 1.5.6. Exacta Wheel: 3 // 1.5. Trifecta Key 3 // 1.5.6. Straight: Julia Shining will be a single on most horizontal wagers, but win highly likely too prohibitive.



EARLY LINE VALUE: Quick to Accuse

EXOTICA and STRAIGHT WAGERS: Exacta Box: 2-4-6. Trifecta Key-Box 4 first and second with 2.6. Arctic Arrogance to win at 2-1 or greater.



EARLY LINE VALUE: Love in the Air

EXOTICA and STRAIGHT WAGERS: Trifecta key-box 10 // // Bank Sting to win at 3-1 or greater. Saver Wager: Love in the Air to win at 8-1 or greater.




EXOTICA and STRAIGHT WAGERS: Exacta Box 2-7. Exacta Wheel 2.7 // 1 [Double Crown 15-1].2.7. Trifecta Key 7 // 1.2.3. Mind Control to win at 2-1 or greater.

As always, exotic wagers are at minimums available, straight wagers are in $2 units or greater

this live column will be updated throughout the weekend

* correction made 1202, 7:05 am

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9 Responses

  1. Should be a fun back half of the card tomorrow at AQU.

    I’ve been enjoying playing the last few races at Turfway after work the past couple of days. Nice big fields race after race.

    1. Doc: Never a shortage of horses in Florence KY. The races on balance are always wide open, throw in Tapeta, and if you’re smart enough, you will get paid.

      Very disappointed it’s going to rain on the last big day of racing in NY. Having spent about four decades on track, got to say NYRA often has been snake-bitten by the weatherman.

      Don’t mind racing in the wet, just don’t like that it’s a legitimate but built-in excuse. A safe and speedy journey to all on the day…

      1. Yeah completely agree. My whole life, it always seems like it rains either the night before the Wood or the day of the NYRA/Cigar Mile as often as not.

  2. Pleased to read that an HRI commentator has noticed a racetrack that exists beyond the usual ones always referred to by Mr. Pricci, like a breath of fresh air; and there are twenty-five or more just as interesting for wagering as Turfway. Curious, did he find the races any different for wagering purposes, excitement, or payoff?

    Got a chuckled out of the recent commentary that suggests that there is to much racing. Imagine, reducing one’s market to achieve what?
    Am trying to think of another industry that has deliberately reduced their market share.

    Question: Is there a racetrack in this country that is not subsidized by casino dole (kept in business, Alice)? Maybe Monmouth that has their purses fueled by state funds derived from sports wagering?

  3. WMC, Much prefer you went after all the corporations that pay little or no taxes, talk about dole…

    Gave your favorite venue some coverage last week. No comment on that? It’s all anyone was talking about at the track for weeks–and I’m not referring to my commentary…

  4. Mr. Pricci: You always deflect questions I ask.

    I did comment on your commentary on Parx’s new track announcer.

    1. WMC, your first reference I’ve answered a million times.
      Your second, about half that many, is I go where the national calendar takes me, unless a track pays me for my contributions. I thank and appreciate Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs, and U S Trotting Assn. for their support. Efforting to find a handicapper worthy of stepping into the void left by Dave Brower’s passing.
      And, finally, there is too much racing or, at least, there’s too much competition. A national schedule to accommodate all tracks is lacking and won’t happen because there’s no league office/commissioner, etc.
      If the horsemen wind up being successful and blow up federal regulation of rules and enforcement, HISA, I’m gone–a real loss for the racing planet… I know.
      Meanwhile, trying to find time to have a life, and continue entertaining racing fans and bettors that have given me a living.

  5. There are thirty or more MLB, NBA, and NFL teams existing and many, many minor league teams in numerous cities far exceeding the number of operating race tracks. Your writing above ‘there is too much racing or, at least, there’s too much competition’ simply ignores the fact that all seem to be making a profit even though the purses of all are funded by a local casino in their state.

    Too much competition! I always believed that competition improves the competitors and provides a better event for viewers to watch and/or wager on.

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