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Book Review

The Best of Thoroughbred Handicapping
Leading Ideas and Methods
by James Quinn
from DRF Press, 316 pages hardcover

Well-known handicapper and author James Quinn makes a triumphant comeback to the bookstore shelves with his latest work, The Best of Thoroughbred Handicapping: Leading Ideas and Methods. In this revision and update of his 1987 work, The Best of Thoroughbred Racing: Advice on Handicapping from the Experts, the head of the NTRA Players' Panel pays homage to the sport's most innovative handicappers with 49 essays summarizing and simplifying the works of 21 different authors and 27 books and articles. Quinn said, "When I began the revision and amplification of the original text, I did not appreciate how much good work has been completed since 1987, only 15 years ago. Even the revisions of the original essays proved rather extensive."

The works from which he derived his essays are some of the most advanced handicapping publications in existence, written by such current luminaries as Andrew Beyer, Mark Cramer, Steve Davidowitz, Tom Brohamer, and Barry Meadow. He also salutes the pioneers in the art and science of handicapping, notably Ray Taulbot and Tom Ainslie, the man Quinn credits with legitimizing horse-playing as a money-making venture and proving to book publishers that there is money to be made publishing books on handicapping.

Given the broad range of sources Quinn uses, the reader cannot help but learn of a new strategy or angle he or she had not encountered in the past and can put to use right away. In recent years, speed handicapping has been the most popular method and after reading the 49 essays, you will see how to find overlays by using other angles that have since fallen out of favor. Angles that include making use of fractional positions, early pace, pedigree, running style, class drops, and odds drops on the toteboard. The logical choice using one method may be overbet, while another method may point you to a nice longshot. Quinn makes frequent use of returns on investment for each new angle presented, conveniently giving the reader an idea of the effectiveness of that method. Many charts and diagrams are included to aid the reader, such as par time charts for speed and pace handicapping, overlay charts for exacta betting, guides on calculating odds lines, and charts to aid in composing an effective pick six ticket.

In his salute to Steve Roman and Dosage theory, an entire chapter is dedicated to the art of handicapping the Kentucky Derby strictly using dosage. Using various examples, he makes the point that although in recent years the theory seems to be failing, there is still profit to be made by avoiding those whose dosages are higher than the magical 4.00 index.

As a treat to the reader, in the final chapter Quinn salutes the "greatest [horse] of them all", Secretariat. He wrote, "Secretariat has left to handicappers the very real-time model of Thoroughbred class and speed." Closing out the book, Quinn includes the Daily Racing Form result charts of Secretariat's Triple Crown races, his world-record performance in the Marlboro Cup, and his two wins on turf that closed out his career, the Man O'War at Belmont Park and the Canadian International at Woodbine. Quinn of course did not forget the focus of his book: the exacta at the Belmont was an overlay that paid $35 despite having the huge 1-10 favorite on top.

In this work, Quinn saves horseplayers the time investment to read and understand the works of 21 experts in 27 books and articles. In a clear and concise style that both novices and handicapping veterans will appreciate, Quinn demystifies the art of handicapping well for profit, and he makes plain even the most advanced ideas and methods of the experts. This book is strongly recommended for anyone who handicaps and bets on thoroughbred races. It is an indispensable reference that belongs on every horseplayer's bookshelf.

The Best of Thoroughbred Handicapping has a list price of $29.97 and is available from for $20.97.

Rating:     5/5

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