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Book Review

Handicapping the Wall Street Way: Picking Xtra Winners at the Track
by Mark E. Ripple
Eclipse Press, October 2005, 88 pages, paperback

Although stock market "investors" like to think their game is different from other forms of wagering, nothing can be further from the truth. Both the stock market player and the horseplayer are using past performances of corporations or horses in order to make an educated guess as to what will happen in the future. In his new book, Handicapping the Wall Street Way, veteran stockbroker and horseplayer Mark Ripple shows how he successfully applies theories learned from 20 years in the the securities investment game to horse racing.

Ripple bases his theories on market inefficiencies. The odds on a horse or a stock's price is normally very efficient, because the public sets the prices and gives correct values. We see this when odds-on favorites finish in the money more often than not, and blue chip stocks steadily rise in value over time. Clearly this is a slow way to turn a profit. However, irrational behavior by the betting public, be they stock investors or horseplayers, will cause inefficient markets. He uses the parallel of the dot-com boom of the late 1990's and the Belmont Stakes with a Triple Crown on the line to demonstrate the most extreme examples of market inefficiency, and how taking a contrarian approach can lead to profitability. Investors who bought dot-com shares at the height of the boom and horseplayers who bet on War Emblem, Funny Cide, and Smarty Jones at the Belmont all took a loss on their wagers.

One angle of betting that other race handicapping books rarely touch on, but is always discussed by financial advisors is risk management, is prescribing a betting strategy corresponding to the level of risk the bettor is willing to take. With greater risk, there is a corresponding greater potential profit but with the trade-off of more money that can be lost. Ripple uses a simple questionnaire to determine what level of risk the reader is comfortable with, and then the reader can implement the corresponding betting strategies in the following chapters.

This is an excellent book for novice to intermediate level horseplayers, as Ripple's strategies are easy to understand and can be implemented right away. Both conservative and aggressive bettors will enjoy the fact that Ripple recognizes that it is not "one size fits all" and has tailored strategies to reflect this.

Handicapping the Wall Street Way has a list price of $12.95 and is available from Exclusively Equine for $9.95 or Amazon.com for $10.36. An excerpt is also available online from Exclusively Equine.

Rating:     4/5

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