07 February 2006

Black and gold covers

Though I've resisted the urge to incorporate a black-and-gold theme here at Turf Luck, I am, for better or worse, a resident of the Steeler Nation. So it's not surprising that this week, a slim, black-and-gold volume on the 798 shelf caught my eye. (798 is the Dewey Decimal classification number for "Equestrian sports & animal racing". I believe burro racing would be shelved here, too, if our library had any such books.)

While the cover of The Blood-Horse Authoritative Guide to Betting Thoroughbreds may remind one of a certain team of champions, the contents are thoroughly track-related. It answers all of those pesky questions a new visitor might ask, like "what do win, place, and show mean?"

There is an extensive section explaining the type of information to be gleaned from track programs and the Daily Racing Form, along with a handy guide to points of call for varoius distances. The tote board gets its own chapter, and there is a nice description of the odds that includes a chart of pay-offs for odds like 8-5 and 9-2.

Types of wagers are covered extensively, and most remarkable of all: quinellas get an entire page! Of course, the pages are not overly large, as the book is designed to be carried along to the track and will fit inside a folded Form easily. Still, the quinella is seldom mentioned, much less described and illustrated. Yes, illustrated; nearly every wager is accompanied by a black-and-white photo of an actual (though invalid) ticket.

Despite its slim (112 page) size, the guide provides a surprisingly thorough overview of handicapping factors; equipment, medication, workouts, track surfaces, post position are all described in clear, concise language. Even pedigree handicapping is explained, with readers being directed to books and the websites to do their own research. (That wily librarian trick!)

So yes, The Blood-Horse Authoritative Guide to Betting Thoroughbreds really is pretty authoritative -- and it's the kind of book I wish I'd had in hand when I first visited the track. That way I wouldn't have pestered my friends with so many inane questions - nor would I have embarrassed myself at the windows by trying to place a wager that wasn't offered.

I've got one minor quibble with the book: the cover illustration looks a tad dated for a book that came out in 2005. However, it does depict a blonde woman with the Form tucked under her arm at the window, handing over what looks like a twenty. I've got to admit, I kind of like a cover that says, Yes, Fred, the blonde can handicap.


Tote Board Brad said...

Harness Accident at The Meadows
Did you see any coverage on this? I wonder how the Pitt media cover this kind of thing. Spills in harness racing are pretty rare compared to thoroughbreds. Do they seem to play it up for ratings, or was it just a slow news day that this got picked up at all?

Have you ever been to The Meadows? I don't really like harness racing, but I try to stifle my disdain. If you have, what's your impression of the facility?

I just ordered Laughing in the Hills by Bill Barich after reading Jessica's quotes. Have you read it? What did you think? I scour for horse racing books, and sometimes it seems I've read almost everything about horse racing that's written in the styles I like. This looks like a good pick.

suebroux said...

I'm always on the lookout for "simplified" horse racing, especially when I'm bringing new people to the track. I'll have to take a look at this one. And I can certainly appreciate the 'blond' gimmick!

When I was first learning about racing, I used an old book, called the Gambler's Digest (copyright MCMLXXI, whatever the hell that is) and it has a very simple and humorous overview on horse racing, betting, mutuel pools, etc. 74 pages. I do not know if it is in print or even revised somewhere along the road. If you ever stumble over it in the stacks, you might like it.

QQ said...

Sue, Thanks for the recommendation. I had a feeling you'd like the blond reference, too!