Derby books galloping to longshot bets

Apr 8, 2008 7:00 PM

Book Reviews by Howard Schwartz| Two new books at the Gamblers Book Shop focus on innovative ways of catching winners. They are Betting the Kentucky Derby (How to Wager and Win on America’s Biggest Horse Race) by Dean Keppler (112 pages, paperbound, $14.95) and Bet With the Best 2 – Longshots by a host of authors and handicappers including Andy Beyer, Steve Davidowitz, Brad Free, Dave Litfin and Lauren Stich (249 pages, hardbound, $29.95).

Author Keppler has more than two decades of handicapping going for him, and he is director of the Daily Racing Form paper. His book contains 10 chapters and includes the use of Beyer Speed Figures to evaluate Derby contenders; the post position and track bias which may or may not exist at Churchill Downs; Tomlinson Ratings and Pedigree Handicapping; the reliability of pre-Derby workouts and Derby preps.

He moves from there to the big-name jockeys and trainers on Derby Day, then to intra-race and multi-race betting and the Oaks. Keppler examines trainer intentions and preparation for the big day.

Although a small book and well-priced, it packs a power punch of valuable information for the Kentucky Derby bettor.

Some of the biggest names in thoroughbred handicapping literature have contributed to Bet With The Best 2. The first volume, done seven years ago was also well received.

Books concentrating on longshots alone are rare. One exception, Dan Geer’s classic Pro Rated Longshots (1975), remains ever popular and sought after. Bet With the Best 2 contains 10 chapters, many race examples to alert you to potential situations and much analysis. You’ll find yourself reading this marvelous compendium slowly, armed with a highlighter to isolate key facts.

A few of the many areas analyzed by this virtual all-star team of writer-handicappers are par times, pace, the Sartin methodology, pace and synthetic surfaces by Tom Brohamer; trainer and track-specific angles by Davidowitz; how to find vulnerable favorites by Litfin; class angles by James Quinn; Stich on hidden turf angles and sires, and Mike Watchmaker who addresses Grade I races including the Breeders’ Cup. One particularly important section by Alan Shuback, a European racing editor, zeroes in on betting foreign imports, including those from South America.

Read this one slowly – sip it like fine wine. By book’s end, you’ll be a smarter, patient handicapper.

These books and more are available from Gambler’s Book Shop (Gambler’s Book Club) in Las Vegas. The website is or call 1-800-522-1777.