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First Time Starters An Investigational Report
by Daniel DiPleco
Morris Publishing, 2004, 104 pages softcover

Maiden races strike fear in the hearts of many horseplayers. The past performance lines are full of losing efforts, gate workouts, or worst yet, no lines at all - the dreaded first time starter. In his new book, First Time Starters, New York educator and handicapper Daniel DiPleco attempts to remove this irrational fear, exposing some very useful angles on how to find a first time starter who will win at first asking. In order to compile these angles, DiPleco used the data from first time starters at tracks across America, both top-class and lower-tier. No stone is left unturned. Winners can be found through breeding, workout patterns, trainer, post position, medication, equipment, and even just the jockey. He also extends his research to the first race after a first-time-start maiden win, showing which of these horses is likely to repeat with another win in his or her next start.

Many bettors of first time starters are proponents of physicality handicapping, and DiPleco is no exception. In Chapter 6, he illustrates (with photos) which physical attributes upgrade or downgrade a horse's chances, and compiled statistics which show how powerful each physicality angle is. For example, a dappled coat is much more likely to win than a dull coat, and an arched tailed horse in the post parade beats a flat tailed horse more often. In his conclusion, DiPleco recaps the data given by demonstrating how he handicapped a typical maiden special weight race at Belmont Park, with 13 going to post including three first time starters. As usual, the heavy favorite was a "veteran" with three starts, but, as is the aim of the book, good value can be found in the first timers, overlooked by many bettors.

A useful appendix is included, listing sires whose progeny are most likely to win first time out and another section demonstrating how the Tomlinson numbers can be used as predictors of a first time win. This is an excellent work for a neophyte to the betting game, as the lessons on physicality can be used not just for maidens but also for every race. The simple yet powerful angles can be put to use right away in any setting.

First Time Starters has a list price of $24.95 and is available from Gambler's Book Shop.

Rating:     4.5/5

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