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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


The day kicks off with the Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill Downs. It may not make you rich, but you will enjoy what you see: A match within a race featuring two brilliantly fast fillies and both figure to bring it!



Break Even (9-5) is a bullet from the gate, is drawn inside with Rosario and gets a couple of pounds from slight favorite Mia Mischief (8-5). She’s 1-for-1 at The Downs and owns a (5) 4-1-0 slate at the trip.

Mia Mischief has the Grade 1 Humana Distaff among her five Churchill victories. She’s also 7-for-13 at six furlongs. Figure that Ricardo Santana will not allow Break Even to get too comfortable up front.

The tote will dictate: If it’s 2-1 vs. 3-5, a win bet on the second choice would be in order. But the MOTO play is a 2-8 exacta box, with #8 the most probable winner. Even money would be fair odds.


In contrast to the Winning Colors, a full field of fillies and mares will go a mile and a sixteenth on the Winn turf course and handicappers can make a case for half this field. We’ll narrow our focus to four: Juliet Foxtrot (5-2); Beau Recall (5-1); Nay Lady Nay (4-1) and Verenka (12-1).

The first two are trained by Brian Cox, both have a modicum of tactical speed in a race without a clear-cut pace scenario and both are coming off layups.

They are drawn well and have the best performance figures in the group and have done so consistently. ‘Juliet’ on the improve and ‘Beau’ is a proven graded performer. It’s a jump ball. The lean would be toward the better price.

Nay Lady Nay comes off a layup and if there’s anyone better with lengthy layups on turf than Chad Brown, we’re not sure who that might be. She’s won two stakes, including the G2 Revere on this course last fall. Jose Ortiz, who had a big holiday weekend, gets the call.

Verenka is yet another making her season’s debut. Some would argue that trainer Graham Motion is in the same top-returnee class as Brown, myself included. She was third in the G3 Regret here last year, but the late runner will need some pace up front for her best go.

We’re thinking a three-filly exacta box and the win decision will come down to post time odds. We will use Verenka somewhere in the exotics. If bettors get this one right, they will be rewarded.


RACE 10: No added money is available at Gulfstream today but there is a NX1 optional claiming allowances for three-year-olds going nine furlongs on the turf.

Todd Pletcher has two here but what’s confusing is the possibility that the longer one on the line might wind up favorite because of the inside draw and presence of Irad Ortiz Jr. The shorter of the uncoupled duo, Mystic Lancelot (5-2), had a strong blowout at Palm Beach Downs for this.

We’ll concentrate on Our Country (5-1), sure to benefit from his season’s debut at Tampa Bay and today’s longer trip. Picking up Paco doesn’t hurt either, and trainer George Weaver has been en fuego.

The problem is that Unconquered Lea (3-1) is a bet-back for us following his dominant maiden score and good second to the talented Gufo at today’s trip last time out. Experience at this route matters.

We’ll bet one of the latter two to win, make a three-way exacta box including Mystic Lancelot, and use the blinker-improved Sunsation (20-1) in the super-exotics mix for a good ship-in barn and picking up turf ace Bravo.



With three-year-old fillies going nine furlongs on turf, we’ll be making a pedigree play–or should we say anti-pedigree play. There is a lot of support for the streaking Peter Miller/Abel Cedill0-connected Laura’s Light (5-2). We agree she’s good but posit her breeding is light on the bottom side.

We’ll try to out-wise-guy the wise guys and concentrate on two fillies. The legitimate favorite, Stela Star (2-1), will be a very tough out for Team Sadler/Prat. She was probably best when second after a very rough go in the Cinema, her U.S. debut. She’s bred to run up the side of a mountain.

But we’re going for the straight gusto with Guitty (8-1) who is developing very nicely, showing incremental improvement in all starts even though she has lost her last three runs.

Exiting the same race as Sadler’s filly, she was 11th of 13 at headstretch but beat half the field, losing the whole thing by less than three lengths. She’s slow early but there’s lots of speed signed on, Brice Blanc got to know her last time out and trainer Leonard Powell is profitable in graded events.

We will box the exacta, key both fillies in vertical wagers that will include money horses Laura’s Light and Parkour (7-2), for Team Mandella/Smith. We’ll take Guitty to win but will require close to 8-1 early odds to do so.

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10 Responses

  1. I just read your selections at Churchill and Gulfstream. After noting that you are into exacta boxes, I mentioned to Alice that your above discussion makes my case why a horseplayer should ignore stake races and high-class allowance races as it is either difficult to separate several entrants – not so with lower-level claiming races – or the race has an odds-on favorite that s/be ignored. From your analysis, it is clear to me that you should pass these races as you are unable to settle on one horse. To me, boxing two or three blue bloods or plugs is like betting with scared money. If a ‘capper can’t single one horse, then the horseplayer should not bet against him/herself and simply pass the race.

    I wish you would remove the Laurel live video from this site. I am tired of hearing the start of the race before I select a contributor. Also, is the FRA now dead? Nothing new since May 2nd.

    1. Wendel, I had the same issue but if I refresh thev screen I get the latest FRA view. There have been a good 18 FRA’s since your last view. Grab a cold Foster and hit the refresh key. – McD

  2. I enthusiastically second your plea on the Laurel race. I have become so frustrated with it blaring as soon as I visit the site I am afraid I’m going to punch my finger through my iPad screen.

    Nothing against Laurel or HRI. I just can’t stand hearing this call the second i visit the site.

    Is it just me and Wendell?

  3. TJ, Best to grab one of Wendel’s cold Fosters and turn the volume down at Laurel. I know many loved him as an announcer but I always lowered the volume when “Down The Stretch They Come” Dave Johnson took over the mike. Kind of like Keith Jackson back in the ABC days calling college football. He was the very best until someone told him so. After that, fame and fortune went to his head, and then he wasn’t so much the best any longer. Why I always enjoyed you and the entire cast at HRI. You all maintained a balance of humility in your exchanges. Created tremendous opportunity for Wendel by the way, by always boxing and betting against yourselves and Alice.

    Just kidding Wendell. No malice intended. Hope you tear them up today. – McD

  4. McD: Boy, am I a dummy! I always use the F5 key to refresh (as Mr. Berner advised) when going to contributor tabs. Am puzzled why I haven’t done such when inquiring on FRA. Think I am losing it. Thanks for suggesting to grab a Foster’s – did so.

    Just watched the 7th at Churchill where, according to Pricci and the wagering public, it was a two- horse race – it wasn’t!

    I owe you a Guinness stout.

  5. I watched, not bet, the four races (three stake races) reviewed above by Mr. Pricci. Unfortunately, none of the selections won and three of the four races paid gigantic win amounts: $28.20, $53.40, and going up $112.20. Isn’t the message clear? Stake races and high-level allowance races are simply virtually impossible to ‘cap? You either have an odds-on blue blood that will pay zip (and will probably run up the track) or three or four that figure, leaving the ‘capper to guess or box them (simply can’t pass the race, can they Alice?).

    Instead of thumbing one’s nose at cheap claiming races and continuing to lose betting stake races, why not spend some time handicapping the claiming races at several low-level racetracks around the country. I don’t think, I know that anyone who does this will cash more tickets while watching claiming races that are no different than stake races; but this won’t happen will it? Can anyone at this site visualize a contributor writing that X looks good in the 5th at Parx, or X fits nice at in the 1st at Finger Lakes? Imagine, no Baffert or Pletcher involved and you just might cash a ticket.

  6. Alas, a losing day in the simulcast analysis. Sorry we pre-bet the card. Had no idea “money horses” were the prices they would be (Bramble Bee, 15-1 and Sunsation, 50-1), but it happens. Should have put myself in position but thought I’d catch video later. Bad idea…

    Laurel Park helped us eke out a few dollars even if winner ($7.20) was overbet. Exacta was fair though. The noise you hear are pages being turned…

  7. No one has to hear the Laurel video if they choose not to. Just read the analysis, or lower the computer volume. I watch a lot of video and depending on the track, the audio feed can be too loud or too low, it happens

    (BTW, the satisfied customers outweigh the others). But I guess life’s pretty good if this is what there is to complain about…)

  8. I think Laurel race caller is one of the best in tHe business. It’s hearing the same few seconds over and over thatbugged me.

  9. I can still hear the voice of Fred Capossela in my dreams every now and then TJ. What a treat he was. Loved Tom D as well, but the benchmark of greatness will always be owned by Cappy. “It is now post time.”

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