08/11/2016 10:47AM

Big-day betting the focus of Davidowitz's book


If there were a Mount Rushmore for handicapping authors, Steve Davidowitz’s face would be etched upon it. Davidowitz, who first gained national prominence with the publication of "Betting Thoroughbreds" back in 1977, has a new book out with important ramifications for contest players. The new book, "Cashing Big on Racing’s Biggest Days," is available now in the DRF online store at www.drf.com/cashbig.

The book, which offers targeted advice both to weekend warrior types and daily grinders, was published DRF Press in April, but with the Arlington Million card this Saturday and Breeders’ Cup season on the horizon, horseplayers who haven’t already read it should order their copies now.

Davidowitz details his specific approach to writing both multirace and vertical tickets, bringing examples to life with specific stories from big days throughout the years. Davidowitz first conceived of the idea for the book two decades ago, dating back to the Breeders’ Cup at Woodbine. “Around that time I started thinking about focusing my play on best racing America has to offer,” he said. “I had a couple of scores that day and that strengthened my resolve that these days provided a real opportunity for horseplayers.”

In the intervening years, racing itself has headed in this direction as well. “Racing has cooperated by coordinating its schedule around the biggest days,” Davidowitz continued. “In the old days the Triple Crown cards weren’t laden with other stakes, now those days have six and even up to 10 stakes. That’s allowed me to focus more time and money on the big days over the years.”

The reasons for the emergence and resultant opportunities on big days are numerous. They give racing fans a pressing reason to prioritize racing over other leisure activities in a select way. They also lead to larger attendance. Both of those factors create more handle and a touch more soft money in the pools, allowing an edge to experienced players who typically only knock heads with one another in the competitive pari-mutuel landscape.

“I love betting the better type of horses and the ability to link different bets with them across a stellar card,” said Davidowitz.

This year saw the debut of two new contests --the Kentucky Derby Betting Challenge and the Belmont Betting Challenge. These contests are a logical next step in the contest world, giving players the chance to compete for big money on the best racing days. Kevin McFarland, two-time winner of Del Mar’s summer contest, believes these big-day events are the future of tournaments. “If I’m going to risk big money I want to be betting on the best horses on the biggest days,” he said.

Davidowitz wanted to acknowledge the importance of contest play in the book and he reached out to Jonathon Kinchen to contribute a chapter in the book, detailing his experiences in contests and at the windows. “When those big racing days come and they’re part of a contest, he’s all over them,” Davidowitz said.

In addition to Kinchen, a diverse and interesting group of handicappers also provided material for the book, making it a smorgasbord of handicapping insight. The contributors include Steven Crist, John Pricci, Gary West, Dave Valento, Matt Carrothers, and Rob Henie. “There are insights in every one of those chapters,” Davidowitz said. “If players read the book they will find one or two ideas in each chapter that can be immediately incorporated into their game.”

Davidowitz will be appearing at Saratoga on Saturday for a seminar in the Pavillion tent at the far end of the grandstand at 11a.m. The seminar, hosted by me, will also feature noted NYRA circuit handicappers Nick Tammaro and Travis Stone.