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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

Three horse betting books smart players should read

18 September 2008

The Breeders' Cup is just over the horizon, and next to the Triple Crown fever which precedes it, it's the biggest weekend for the biggest purses ever. For those horseplayers who are always looking for something new for their information arsenal, here are three titles that might make Breeders' Cup selections easier and are sure to help with day-to-day handicapping. Two of these books are just off the press and one has been around for a while, but it's worth your attention.

Betting Synthetic Surfaces: Conquering Racing's Newest Frontier by Bill Finley ($24.95, hardbound, 159 pages) is important because the Breeders' Cup will be run on such a surface at Santa Anita in October. The questions about the impact of the new surface (designed to cut down on the number of injured horses) have yet to be answered. The jury is still out on how the surface will affect performance, but author Finley believes the surface is here to stay. In a dozen chapters he discusses track bias, which sires are likely to have offspring that will benefit, the switch from dirt to synthetic and vice versa, exactly what polypropylene is and what is the future of the substance.

Comments and analysis by jockeys, track personnel, the inventors and originators of the surface may make the subject easier to comprehend, There are the pluses and minuses. There's the time the track drained poorly at Santa Anita, the economic appeals of winter racing, the question of why some horses perform poorly on "poly" but bounce back well on dirt.

The book has a list of "synthetic surface sires" showing you who does well and who does not (through December of 2007), and predicts harness racing will soon adopt the new surface.

Overall, this is a must-read book for those who are confused or have heard stories of the impact of the new surface and wish to adapt their betting strategies accordingly.

Cajun Racing (From Bush Tracks to the Triple Crown) by Ed McNamara ($23.95, hardbound, 223 pages). The author, based in New York, has been writing about thoroughbreds for more than 20 years. Here, he writes about history, nostalgia, the characters of the great jockeys, trainers and characters of Louisiana racing.

Included is the unbelievable race of Sylvester Carmouche, who in January 1990, on a 23-1 longshot named Landing Officer, took advantage of a mind-boggling thick fog and appeared to have won by an astonishing 24 lengths.

He "hid" the horse at the top of the stretch, waited for the field to come around and crossed the finish line for an apparent win. The scam was exposed; the jockey (he's been reinstated today) got an 8 1/2 year suspension and is forever known today as "the Fog Jockey."

Finally, Noel Michaels's book titled the Handicapping Contest Book -- A Horseplayer's Guide to Handicapping Tournaments ($14.95, paperbound, 258 pages) has value for those who have never entered a tourney or want to understand more but don't know whom to ask. Now revised and updated (it was originally published in 2005), and for the price, it should give you a leg up on those with little understanding about various contest formats and what a tournament strategy might be. The author has interviewed dozens of winners and tourney pros who offer advice on preparation, rule variations, narrowing choices, gathering information, when to avoid favorites, adjusting late in a contest and of course -- familiarizing yourself with the contest rules.

The book tells you where previous tournaments were held, how to contact tracks directly for updates or for future contests, plus where to eat or stay when you are in action. It's a great time saver and could guide you to a winning approach.
Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com
Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com