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Most casual racing fans assume that the key to winning at the races is picking winners, the rationale being that you cannot cash a bet if you did not choose the correct horse. Of course this is true, but in Money Secrets at the Racetrack, California-based professional horseplayer Barry Meadow demonstrates that handicapping is only half the battle. Not only must the bettor have the skills to select horses most likely to win, but those selections must be translated into properly structured wagers in order to maximize profit and minimize risk at all times. Meadow explains that even a handicapper who can pick 99% winners can go broke, if he bets his entire bankroll in every race. This is an extreme example but an important one in demonstrating the importance of properly structured bets based on bankroll and risk.
There is nothing in this work about handicapping. Meadow's book is purely on the topic of money management, so bettors with poor handicapping skills need to improve in that department before attempting to structure bets under his system. First, he takes the time to shoot down some common errors, such as never betting at less than 2-1 or always boxing exactas. These simplistic strategies may sound useful, but Meadow demonstrates using mathematics and logic how fallacious they are and that following them blindly will minimize profit if not lead to financial ruin in the long run.
The key to Meadow's system is the odds line. The serious player must translate his or her handicapping into an accurately calculated line and then compare it to the toteboard as close to post time as possible to determine which bets, if any, are to be made. If a selected horse is going to post at less than the line odds, then the bettor must back a different horse who is going off at higher than the line odds, or the race must be passed. Some simple calculations are used to structure bets in the place and show pools, which, contrary to popular belief, can and do have overlays.
The process is straightforward in the straight pools, but further calculations are necessary for the exotics. Meadow includes tables and charts that are used for the daily double, pick 3, pick 4, quinella, exacta, trifecta, and pick 6. Again, the odds line is used and, after some simple calculations, proper exotic-pool bets are structured. Regardless of which pool you are betting into, the key to winning is an accurate odds line.
Closing out the book, Meadow includes two chapters demonstrating how the techniques are applied. The first of two examples is of a day at Santa Anita, where he and a companion both turned a profit despite vastly different handicapping techniques. Money management was the key for both bettors. In the second example, Meadow takes the reader through the thrill of a lifetime when he hit a pick 6 for almost $110,000 in February 1990. He wrote, "Sometimes this stuff does work." Meadow added an afterword in this reprint to explain how much the game has changed since the first printing, but that despite higher takeouts, telephone account and Internet betting, rebate shops, and more exotics added to the wagering menu, money management will always be an important part of a successful horseplayer's arsenal.
This is a well-written book that gets right to the point and whose lessons can be implemented right away. Clearly, Meadow's book is a must-read for anybody who considers themselves a good handicapper but has been unable to fully profit from their skills. It is also recommended for casual horseplayers who are considering increasing their level of play. Techniques such as line-making and structuring exotic tickets based on oddsline can only serve to maximize profits and minimize losses in the long term.
Money Secrets at the Racetrack has a list price of $24.95 and is available from Amazon.com for $16.47. An excerpt from the book is also available at Amazon.com.
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