Yes, indeed, pace makes the race

Aug 4, 2009 5:05 PM
Book Reviews by Howard Schwartz |

The best payoffs Randy Giles ever had at a racetrack were generated by extreme pace aberrations. His book, Extreme Pace Handicapping (122 pages, paperbound, $19.95), is designed to uncover overlays and it’s a fresh new title at Gambler’s Book Shop; it arrived just days after Joe Hachem’s poker biography, Pass the Sugar (311 pages, hardbound, $25.95).

For handicappers, pace is an extremely vital handicapping factor. Huey Mahl, Tom Brohamer, Howard Sartin, Tom Hambleton and others have emphasized pace in their books, and now Giles takes a different approach, underscoring offensive and defensive phases and comparing aerobic and anaerobic (with and without oxygen), keyed to the fact that "energy used early will not be available later." Also discussed is velocity and what the author calls a "pace pressure gauge."

Giles discusses speed figures, how to flag improving horses, pace ability, race quality, key races, pace shapes and credits William Quirin’s out of print classic, Winning at the Races, Bob Heyburn’s Fast and Fit Horses and William Scott’s Investing at the Racetrack with some of his theories – all well and good, since these are solid, accepted authors’ conclusions. "A horse’s running style cannot be forced. It’s natural to the animal and will develop in time," Giles says, offering examples of pacelines with a "mixed message" and how he evaluates performance.

The book offers examples of horses pressing the pace, ones with off pace and closers. It profiles horses in unusual categories: The Thief; The Clever Thief; The Carpetbagger and The Loner – designed that way for you to remember them better.

Overall, an excellent new work to consider if pace is a category you deem important to finding contenders and winners.

When it comes to poker, everyone wants a title to sharpen skills, avoid mistakes and find an advantage. We don’t always get it all in every book. Pass the Sugar, a pleasant biography of the 2005 World Series of Poker champion Joe Hachem, humanizes the man and the game he loves to play.

Hachem, a former chiropractor, was diagnosed with a rare disease which affected his hands. He knew poker, discovered hold’em, perfected his game and became a respected, classy player who draws a crowd at or away from the table.

Now "demanding purists" who want a book to stick to strategies and how-to-get-the-money will knock the book’s format – but I don’t care. I like the way Hachem or whoever wrote the book with him tells his story, talks about the people he met and players who befriended him and highlights the biggest games. It wanders a bit here and there, but he’s no egotistical maniac and you’ll learn something about survival at and away from the table, and about Aussies and their love for gambling or succeeding.

Newcomers to the pressure of tournament play will benefit from Hachem’s memoirs and experiences. It’s a nice read about a player with class.

These books and more are available from Gambler’s Book Shop. The store’s website is; its toll free number is 1-800-522-1777. The store, opened in 1964, is located at 1550 E. Tropicana Suite #4, between Maryland Parkway and Spencer Avenue.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Howard Schwartz