The Power of Choosing Your Bet

In horse races, most patrons are kept quietly but actively engrossed in the demanding tasks of selecting horses on which to bet.

This is, naturally, the more important element in the calm between races.

Only a small proportion are ‘hunch’ bettors or are willing to act blindly on the advice of public handicappers. Most people indeed play the game; in risking their money, they attempt to select their own betting options by the deliberate application of rational criteria.

The task is immensely complex, the list of factors which ought to be considered is very large, and the amount of information which is made available is overwhelming.

There is so much, in fact, that most or all players must rely on simplifications and rules of thumb.

The most important source of information is a newspaper, the Daily Racing Form, purchased by approximately 40 percent of the Grandstand patrons and 60 percent of the Turf Club members.

It was also estimated that, at Hollywood Park, 89 percent of Racing Form purchasers are men, although two-thirds of the attendees are men. This document provides three main types of material:

First, a few pages contain feature articles about important horses and their owners, trainers, and riders – of interest primarily to box holders and Turf Club members; second, a couple of pages consist of ordered selections by the Form’s handicappers along with the equivocal comments on horses thought likely to be ‘in contention.’

And lastly, the largest section and most important for the individual bettor is simply called ‘Past Performances.’

Past Performances are published for horses entered in each of the day’s races at the local track and interestingly, for other major race tracks across the country in spite of the fact that betting on races is illegal (except in Nevada) where one cannot be present in person.

Here are tabulated in astonishing detail the racing histories of each horse entered in each race.

Among other particulars, the following information is offered for each horse: the weight he must carry in the present race, his age, color of his coat, lineage, the names of his owner, breeder, and trainer, the amounts of money he has won for his owner in the last two or three years, his speeds for his last few workouts, the dates, locations, and ‘conditions’ of his last dozen races.

And then for each those races: his jockey, weight carried, running position relative to the leader at each quarter of the race including the finish, the names of the first three horses to finish, the weights they carried, etc.

However, even here, experienced bettors are sometimes able to draw inferences from clues in the Form or elsewhere.

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