6 Horse Racing Books Every Serious Horseplayer Should Read

Horse Racing Books
Becoming a successful horse player does not happen overnight and the learning process never ends.  I was introduced to the sport of thoroughbred horse racing by my father and learned how to handicap using his methods.

After a few years of recreational handicapping with occasional success I decided to take my new found weekend hobby more serious.  The goal was to find out if long term profits were possible.

To do this I began reading all the horse racing books on betting strategies and handicapping I could get my hands on.  As you can see from the picture of my bookshelf above I have amassed a decent size collection.

The results have been positive.  In the last four years my betting ledger is in the black with two very positive years and two years with minor losses.

My handicapping has improved dramatically after reading all of the books you see above.  I would recommend reading every book on horse racing betting strategies and handicapping you can get your hands on but reading 40+ books is probably not feasible for most people.

After sifting through my collection I came up with a group of  books I recommend that anyone wanting to become a serious horseplayer should read.  In no particular order here are six that I would highly recommend.

Exotic Betting#1 – Exotic Betting by Steve Crist: Handicapping the races is only half the battle, betting them is the other.  In Exotic Betting Steve Crist outlines the strategy he uses for playing each type of exotic bet, from Exacta’s to the Pick 6 and every wager in between.  The multi-ticket A-B-C method of playing the Pick 4 and Pick 6 alone are worth the read and have been an integral part in increasing my profits at the racetrack.

Money Secrets at the Racetrack#2 – Money Secrets at the Racetrack by Barry Meadow:  Money management is a weakness of many horseplayers and can often be the difference between a winning and losing horseplayer.  Money Secrets at the Racetrack is far and away the best guide to proper money management and optimal value betting strategy.


Modern Pace Handicapping

#3 – Modern Pace Handicapping by Tom Brohamer:  Pace makes the race is one of the oldest sayings you will hear at a racetrack and Modern Pace Handicapping is the definitive book on Pace Handicapping.  For beginners the chapter on running style will provide insight into how the race will be run and which horses will benefit from the likely pace scenario.  For experts the chapters on the Sartin Methodology will provide a never before seen method of analyzing the pace scenario of a race.  I have read this book a half a dozen times and would rank it at the top of my list of most influential books on handicapping a horse race.

The Handicapper's Condition Book#4 – The Handicapper’s Condition Book by James Quinn:  Class is an often hard to describe factor in horse racing.  A horse that wins a Maiden Special Weight may be able to step up and win an Allowance race or may need to drop into a Claiming race.  In The Handicapper’s Condition Book the winning profile for each Class level is laid out for the reader and the chore of separating contenders from non-contenders is made drastically easier.

Betting Thoroughbreds for the 21st Century#5 – Betting Thoroughbreds for the 21st Century by Steve Davidowitz:  Ever look at the past performance of a horse and wonder what is this horse doing in this race today?  In Betting Thoroughbreds for the 21st Century the answer to that question and many more will be answered.  This book covers a diverse set of topics from track bias to trainer intent and is a must read for beginning horseplayers and a welcome refresher for experienced horseplayers.

The Best of Thoroughbred Handicapping#6 – The Best of Thoroughbred Handicapping by James Quinn:  Over 40 handicapping ideas/methods are presented in this anthology of horse racing.  From betting strategy to pace handicapping to visual analysis of the horses in the paddock this diverse collection of writings is useful to every type of handicapper.  If you are looking for a well rounded book on handicapping methodologies you will not find one better then The Best of Thoroughbred Handicapping.

Each of these horse racing books is available through the links provided above via Amazon.com.  Please note that if you decide to purchase one or more of these books through the links provided above I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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  1. Keith bishop says:

    I have them all in my book shelf and have read them more than once. I can’t think of a single handicapping book better than these six. May I suggest “Six Secrets of Successful Bettors” and some of the work by Mark Cramer who is very entertaining and quite enlightening.

  2. Agree with the guy above me about Mark Cramer. “The Odds On Your Side” by Cramer is one of my favorite horse racing books.

    “Ainslie’s Complete Guide To Thoroughbred Racing” is another one. It may have been written in 1986 but we are still playing the same tracks that Ainslie played. The game is the same. A lot of the data available is different and training methods have changed but it’s still a very relevant book.

  3. Thank’s Lenny

    I will look that book up.


  4. Agree with Larry (12/6/12) about the Ainslie book. It’s so chock full of interesting nuggets and angles that the occasional horse player would never think of. But I always take his advice with a grain of salt given it’s 25 years old. That’s one book they should come out with an updated edition of!

    Absolutely yes on the the Davidowitz, as well. His updated edition, with the individual track profiles, are invaluable, albeit it seems with many of those profiles he only scratches the surface (no pun intended).

    The Brohamer book is interesting too. I actually prefer his 1991 edition over the 2000 one, which has so many typographical, mathematical, and formatting errors it was really frustrating to read. Whoever proofed/edited that latter edition must’ve been hitting the sauce while doing so.

    Informative site. Thanks.

  5. A must read is one of Andy Beyer’s early books in order to learn how speed figures were created.

  6. Read most of those and agree for the most part. The “Best of” book by Quinn is a great one because it introduces you to so many ideas. I was introduced to the works of Cramer, Fotias, Dr. Z, and the Litfin (very underrated book) among many others. Quinn can’t go in depth in his compilation, but it sets you up to explore what’s out there if you have a thirst for knowledge.

  7. All of the six books listed are pretty good, but they won’t put you in the winner’s circle. Davidowitz, especially, is rather derivative. The glaring omission here is “Winning at the Races”, by Dr. William Quirin. If I could only read one book, that’s the bible of handicapping. I also agree with other posters, that Mark Cramer’s books, notably”Kinky Handicapping”, is a wellspring of creativity and inspiration. I have a few “Kinky” plays that are so counterintuitive but amazingly profitable.
    But, nothing substitutes for good record keeping, creating your own database, and continually studying what is successful for you.

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