The ABC of Horse Racing 1948 Style

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In 1948 a little Bantam paperback book called The ABC of Horse Racing by Dan Parker, a columnist for the New York Daily Mirror, hit the stands. The first page displayed a reprint of The Morning Telegraph, presumably the devil’s code. Flip to the next page and you’re awash in sour graphs: “Having studied simple arithmetic”, says Parker, “I’m not a chronic horse player myself, but bet enough to know I’m not an exception to the rule that all horse players must die broke. Most racing fans prefer to be kidded into believing the ponies can be beaten. Fred Allen told them the only way this could be done long ago—with a whip.” And if you’re not depressed enough, “You can’t beat the races.” Damn! Three years after WWII when optimism should have been in full force, Mr. Parker decided it was his pleasure to burst bubbles then and 58 years later – to ruin your day.

My bookshelves are overflowing with horse racing books. They range from historical tomes to handicapping theory of the “modern age”. Those same shelves contain magazines and books and periodicals from the 20s and 30s (my favorite era), and more. I still yearn for the big three sporting events – baseball, boxing, horse racing – that’s enough quality sport for anybody. One of the most powerful moments of my sporting life happened on a beautiful day in Hot Springs, Arkansas (the first Arkansas Derby was run in 1936 for a purse of $5,000, as you may remember). I stood in a spa of natural wood and hot water, against the ropes of the entrance to the gym where Babe Ruth worked out just before he headed over to Oaklawn Park for a day in the sun. Those were the days, my friend. I will be returning and I’m hoping to sense the presence of the Babe again. Even related horse racing stuff feels good.

Back to Mr. Parker and The ABC of Horse Racing. Here’s the reason I brought all of this up: Throw all your books out. Dispense with thoroughbred racing history. Forget about profiting from your studies. Know that at every turn a charlatan is waiting to separate you from your money. Give it up. Dan Parker has spoken. Or, I say, ask yourself a question. THE question. Answer it and you’re on your way. Here it is: Do you believe it is possible to make a profit, a consistent profit at thoroughbred handicapping? The way you answer that question will make all the difference. The Dan Parkers of the world won’t believe you but, hey, who cares.

February 17, 2010 • Posted in: Articles

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