Book Review: Betting ThoroughbredsFor the 21st Century
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor
Steve Davidowitz Betting Thoroughbreds for the 21st Century might not be the most entertaining handicapping book, but it is definitely one of the most useful and, arguably, the most essential book for horseplayers both old and new. If anyone ever taught a class in handicapping, Betting Thoroughbreds would top the list of required reading and be the book that motivated students would keep on their reference shelf long after the class ended.
In our HRF Index of Top 5 Handicapping Books, Betting Thoroughbreds ranked number one. In submitting their top five, voters used adjectives like “holistic,” “definitive,” “sensible,” “methodical,” and “comprehensive” in describing Davidowitz’s work. The book covers handicapping with a broad brush, giving players a solid foundation on which to develop their own opinions. Betting Thoroughbreds is not about a system for success; instead it’s about an approach to handicapping the races. As Davidowitz writes towards the end of the book:
There is no magic formula to win at this game, but there is an edge to be gleaned through diligence, patience, and the willingness to check things out for yourself.
Since the first edition in 1977, Betting Thoroughbreds has maintained its preeminence in handicapping circles. One of the primary reasons is that it has been revised twice; the latest edition was published in 2009. Racing has changed a great deal since 1977 and Betting Thoroughbreds has changed with it. The latest edition, Betting Thoroughbreds for the 21st Century, includes information about synthetic surfaces and exotic wagering, topics that have come to the forefront of racing in recent years that weren’t mentioned in the first edition of the book.
However, neither racing nor the book has changed entirely, and many of the key concepts of the original edition remain relevant and have been left untouched by the author. From an historical perspective, it’s fascinating to see how certain angles on playing the races have withstood the test of time.
For the brand new horseplayer, Betting Thoroughbreds might be a bit intimidating, but if you have a willingness to learn, it will become an important resource that you will revisit as your skill level advances. Mr. Davidowitz’s work holds the well-deserved top spot in Hello Race Fans list of the best handicapping books.