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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

Trend and Schedule Books for Football; Saratoga Guides; New Racing Manual Arrive

16 July 2003

I remember when we had fewer than a dozen books on betting all sports at Gambler's Book Shop (Gambler's Book Club). It was rare to have a few just for the football handicapper. Now there are dozens for football itself, all arriving in timely fashion, allowing the handicapper plenty of time to pour over facts and figures. It's hard to believe but the College Football Trends and Schedule Book (100 pages, 8x11 paperbound, $32.95) and the ever-popular NFL Trend and Schedule Book (78 pages, 8x11 paperbound, $32.95) are now in their 15th annual edition and classier than ever‹with big bold type, easy to read, easy to use.

I once called the authors ³two guys from Wisconsin² and maybe it's simpler to remember them that way.Some authors, when it comes to gambling, like their names kept in the background. No matter. They do a solid job as usual with this year's editions.

A quick look at the college version lets you see immediately that you can follow the progress of 93 major teams, as illustrated in this Kansas State example:

They play on artificial turf; Coach Bill Snyder's been there 14 years with a record of 116-51-1. K-State opens against Troy State Aug. 30. The entire Kansas State schedule is there with room to record the final score; the line, totals should they exist. All conference games are indicated as is the playing surface games for all the games. There are seven trends to watch for when betting on or against Kansas State. They include as example the Oct. 25 game when K-State hosts Kansas. (K-State has won the last nine meetings.) Kansas State seems to rebound well after a loss, so the authors remind us the play K-State the next game after a loss straight up, since they are 22-8 in that situation.

A final feature for each team is the Best Season Situation. So watch for Oct. 11 when Kansas State visits Oklahoma State. If K-State is favored, bet them, the compilers say.

The college book lists the straight up records of current college coaches and all new coaches.

The NFL Trend & Schedule Book has a format similar to the college version. Looking at the New York Giants we're shown the Giants winning 11 of their last 14 games in season openers. They'll open Sept. 7 and we're shown that a good angle is betting the Giants under versus Tampa Bay (the last seven games have gone under the bookmaker's total).

Again, you've got room to keep records; see what games are division battles and what type of playing surface each team has at home. Career coaching records are included; plus a bonus of dozens of preseason betting angles, week-by-week, team by team, including some totals plays.

For those who love to bet Saratoga (open July 23 to Sept. 1), there are two dynamite books to help you quickly familiarize yourself with the track. First is The Saratoga Handicapper 2003 by Jim Mazur (96 pages, 8x11 plastic spiralbound, $29.95) and the second is Guide to the Graveyard 2003 (Winning Profiles of Saratoga Stakes Winners) by Jim Mazur and Peter Mallett (110 pages, 8x11 plastic spiralbound, $29.95).

The Saratoga Handicapper quickly summarizes the running style patterns and post position statistics along with profiles of the jockeys for the past three seasons. Which trainers did well, which didn't; which trainers have a 40% or higher winning percentage for the last three meets? This is followed by deeper profiles on what to expect from trainers who specialize or who often pull a surprise with first-time starters; short-rest horses; long layoffs; with claimers, etc. One little, but vital section called Odds and Ends shows via a chart, how often shippers coming in from 30 different tracks fared last year and for the past three years; another shows horses for courses‹which steeds like Saratoga (going back four meets) and have won at least twice during the same meet or single wins at two or more meets. The book also looks at the top jockeys for the last three meets (overall and turf records).

Guide to the Graveyard (the term ³graveyard² refers to the fact many a champion has met his (or her) match at Saratoga looks at stakes winners patterns at this track, starting with The Schuylerville in late July to The Saranac Sept.1. How have favorites fared; what are the winning profiles of these stakes winners‹what specific strengths did they bring to the track that day (off a winning effort; great early speed, etc.). For those who bet stakes races (because they trust them more and you believe you can isolate a pattern or contender based on previous patterns), this may be THE book to have to save time and isolate winners.

Finally -- the 2003 American Racing Manual (2011 pages (I counted), hardbound, $40) may be the buy of the century so far for horseplayers. Edited by the respected Steve Davidowitz, it is priced perfectly and contains the following:

An overview of Beyer Figures along with top figures for the past 10 years for two-year-olds; three-year-olds; sprinters; races more than a mile; turf horses; material on the Breeders' Cup; breeding; tops in virtually every major category for horses; progeny of leading freshman sires; juvenile sires; track records; diagrams of tracks; dates tracks are open; foreign track profiles and diagrams; a glossary of terms used in thoroughbred racing; equivalent velocity ratings in feet per second for fractional clockings and popular racing distances; types of races and their symbols in Daily Racing Form past performance charts.

There is a section devoted to who won all the major races in 2002 and 2001; a history of who won Grade 1, 2, and 3 Stakes Events from the time they began to last year; plus leading foreign stakes race winners; European leaders (owners, jockeys, trainers) for 2002; records of every thoroughbred who races in the U.S. and Canada last year including number of starts, win, places and shows, plus money earned; with a section showing Records of Trainers for 2002.

Wondering which states have what tracks? There's a handy two-page map to make it all so clear; followed by a breakdown of the economics of the sport, showing the pari-mutuel handle on and off-track for the past four years in the U.S. and Canada; then a look back since 1988. There is information to help compare gross purses in North America since 1990; a look at 2-year-old racing since 1988 including the number of starters and purses; a look at field sizes since 1950; how Thoroughbred racing and breeding compares country by country from Argentina to Venezuela; trends in purse distribution by purses and distance since 1989; a table showing foals by state; a table showing distribution of active stallions and mares bred in the last three years; a look at the takeout percentages, state by state for straight bets and exotics and even past performances of the great horses of the 20th Century, including Secretariat and Seabiscuit‹race by race and their odds, race by race are included.

There's lots for trivia buffs, those fascinated by great days of jockeys‹one example being a listing of jockeys with six or more wins in a single day since 1991‹and if only we knew ahead of time! What a marvelous reference source, a great gift or argument settler‹and at a price, even the tightest show bettor can't flinch about.

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