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Sunday, February 22, 2009

My Top Five Cappin' Books

It's about that time where I pull out my Betting the Kentucky Derby book to refresh myself in some of the betting ideosyncracies that are aligned with the Derby. Last year I started a spreadsheet on each of the horses in the starting gate and various statistics outlined in the book. It helped me hit the Big Brown-Eight Belles exacta ($154.50) and I think I'll probably be putting it together again this spring.

So while we're on the topic of racing books here are my Top Five favorite books that have helped me understand some of the finer points of handicapping:

1 - Exotic Betting by Steven Crist. In my humble opinion, the best of the best. His chapters on multirace betting are legendary and his ABC system for these wagers has proven profitable for Mr. Crist, especially in the past year if you've been following his blog. Aside from the multirace techniques his wagering strategies to maximize bankroll in exacta and trifecta betting was most valuable to me. I've read this book over and over to refresh myself when I fall back into some of my bad betting habits.

2 - Bet with the Best 2: Longshots by various authors. This book has a number of chapters by various different racing authors. My favorite chapters are by Steve Davidowitz on Trainer and Track Specific Angles, Tom Brohamer on the Turn Back Play and finally Laurn Stich on Hidden Turf Angles and Sires. I read this book over the summer and learned a lot from a wide array of turf writers.

3 - Betting the Kentucky Derby by Dean Keppler. For the reasons stated above. Interesting chapters on how preps, pedigree, beyer speed figures and post positions have historically figured into the puzzle that is selecting the Derby champ.

4 - Betting Synthetic Surfaces by Bill Finley. His statistical analysis on synthetic tracks helped inspire me to do my own study prior to the Breeders Cup on the Oak Tree meet preceding the big weekend. Interesting chapters on the Dirt to Synth and Turf to Synth angles as well as some analysis of the top sires for synthetic runners has been extremely helpful when handicapping the fake stuff.

5 - Expert Handicapping by Dave Litfin. I really enjoyed this NY-based writer's book, which is another one I read again from time to time to sharpen my skills. He introduced me on how to read Tomlinson figures and how to properly evaluate a favorite for vulnerability. An excellent read with real life examples.

While these are just a few of the numerous excellent books on the topic, here are a few more in my library that earn an honorable mention (HM):

HM - Handicapping Contest Handbook by Noel Michaels. The must read chapter for any handicapping contestant is on strategy, and it is a good one. This book has some value to purchase and while most of it is common sense it definitely helped me when I attended my first real-time contest in Vegas. Unfortunately for me I didn't follow the strategy...

HM - Handicapping 101 by Brad Free. A must read for the novice handicapper. Aptly named, it has a thorough discussion of the four tenets of handicapping - form, class, speed and pace highlight a book steeped with real life examples of how to read past performances. The second book I ever read on the topic.

HM - Six Secrets of Successful Bettors by Scartoni and Fornatale. The authors interviewed more than two dozen professional players and identified six secrets that all of these successful players have in common. Beyer, Free, Crist, Davidowitz, Friedman, Serling and several anonymous pros are all featured in this engaging book. Best chapter: The Never-Ending Quest for Value (Secret: They only bet when they have an edge.)

HM - Speed to Spare by Joe Cardello. Read this one over the summer and picked up a few tips on identifying Beyer Tops, Beyer Bouncers and Patterns and Cycles when evaluating the ever present speed figs.

HM - Betting on Horse Racing (for Dummies) by Richard Eng. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the first book I ever read on betting the ponies. For the first time bettor or track goer, it handles all the basics with ease. While the Saratoga Resident gave me my first lesson during the summer of 2004 on the fly, I picked this one up shortly after my first foray to better understand the game.

I'm sure I've missed a few good ones, let me know where I missed the boat....

[Update: I put up a poll on the left hand column based on the comments received..please let me know your thoughts!]


raypaulick said...

Maybe I'm too 'old school,' but I thought 'Betting Thoroughbreds'
by Steve Davidowitz was one of the best ever. Also anything by Andy Beyer, especially 'Picking Winners.' Andy is not only insightful but a good story teller, and Davidowitz is challenging.

But, hey, it's your list! You could be right.

Colins Ghost said...

Interesting list. I second Ray on the Davidowitz book. I hear he is working on an updated version -- looking forward to replacing my well worn copy.

The Turk said...

Great list and I just want to suggest a book for HM, "The Best of Thoroughbred Hadicapping" by James Quinn, a DRF Press release. It is 50 seperate essays, a smorgasboard of handicapping methods and philosophy. And while slightly out of date, does Tom Ainslie's ideas ever lose their meaning?

SaratogaSpa said...

Great List_ I have Love Exotic Betting.

Here is one I read recently that I think is worthy of the list- "Overlay, Overlay" by Bill Heller

Wind Gatherer said...

Ainslie's Compleat Guide is the quintessential handicapping book. Davidowitz and Beyer make up the tri.

'How will your horse run today' by forget who and 'Money secrets at the racetrack' by Barry Meadows are good companion books. The latter has nothing to do with with handicapping and is invaluable.

EquiSpace said...

Wow, thanks for the input, gents.

I've posted a poll on the blog to see who people like. I'm not a poll person, but given the commentary here, let's give it a shot....

Thanks for the suggestions and for reading.

TrackMaster Craig said...

My top handicapping books are

The Complete Guide to Thoroughbred Racing by Tom Ainslie.

My $50,000 Year at the Races by Andy Beyer.

Betting Thoroughbreds by Steve Davidowitz.

Kinky Handicapping by Mark Cramer.

Modern Pace Handicapping by Tom Brohamer.

Bet with the Best by DRF.


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