to be the first to tell you about the most important
new handicapping book of the century. [Originally
published Fall 2000.] With the century so young,
could be either exaggeration or faint praise, but this book is going to
set the standard for the next decade. It also happens to be
written by of one of the most successful bettors I know.
been with Michael Pizzolla when he has scored very
large in the high-end casinos of the Las Vegas Strip, where he lives
and works, day-in, day-out, year-round. If you read the
article on variance, hopefully you know Im clued to the subject, and
that on those occasions when Im there with him, I am happy
him, excited for himbut I am not
inclined to be
awe-struck, becausewell, because of variance.
know what? Its like this every time
Im with the guy. I know he has had far bigger days, but I
two $1,500 exactas at different tracks on the same day are rather nice,
dont you? I also know that he has down days, and we have
commiserated many times over those miserable streaks of twenty or more
losses whenif we had picked Cigar against a field of maidens at
Lubbock Downshis rider would have been dismounted signing autographs
when the gates opened. He once had a seagull fly in the face
his otherwise-winning pick in the stretch at Aquaduct! Now thats
bum racing luck. And that got me thinking.
of my other inclinations, Im actually quite
superstitious. Michael has very good days when Im with him;
he also has bad days, but Ive never seen themso, maybe theres an
opportunity hereas a professional good luck charm. Jimmy
had a six-foot rabbit, how about a six-foot rabbits foot?
Unfortunately for my new career.htmlirations, its not
luck. And, his book will show you exactly why.
are together in one of the race books on the Strip,
Im very conscious of the fact that Im on vacationMichael is working.
I m usually bleary-eyed from doing what you do in Las VegasI might
have handicapped for an hourand I usually have enough sense to bet
lightly when Im in that state (of mind; not
Michael, on the other hand, is making his living. He is
aggressive bets and is in full concentration. This is not a
when I want to distract him with small talk or casual conversations
however, talked to the race book managers where he
plays. I wont tell you exactly what these race book managers
have told me on matters of scale, but I will say that these
professionals who have seen it all hold him in very
esteem. He is invariably described as an exceptional casea
standouteven among top players. Knowing this, and the fact
he is a master of pace handicapping, I cant tell you how many times
Ive seen Michael make a decisive move and wanted to say out of pure
curiosity, Hey! Michael!
Exactly what are you
doing? What are you thinking? How are you framing
bet? Well, patience finally paid off. I didnt know
but the last couple of times I was with him, he must have been writing
is Handicapping Magic.
Pizzolla is a magicianliterallyas well as an
attorney, so the title covers two of his enthusiasms. He has
others, including Eastern Philosophy, so I wont cop any easy jokes
book is the culmination of the pace handicapping
movement of the 80s and 90s, but far more than that. There
already been some great Pace books but, like the developing stages of
most evolving theoretical paradigms, they have all been
was, in fact, co-author of one of the most important, Pace
Makes The Race: An Introduction To The Sartin
Methodology, and he was a working and teaching member of the
cartel. I have now met many of the key players who were
or around this legendary group, and aside from a certain weirdness that
surrounds the legend, what an extraordinary occurrence it
Here were some of the best minds ever applied to horse racing, studying
every.htmlect of the gameworking together in striking contrast to the
loners of the past, and what resulted was an explosion of ideas.
Brohamer introduced Pace to the masses in 1991 with Modern
Pace Handicapping and a new generation of handicappers of the
Winners era, began calculating energy
distributions. All of
this, of course, had an earlier foundation in the work of Ray Taulbot
and Huey Mahl. Huey Mahl was a man of few words and many
ideas and, although he wrote columns for magazines as well, my image of
him is always based on what I consider his master work: Pace
Makes The Race, a little paperback book published by Gamblers
Club in 1983. Huey was a guy who could represent an idea in a
graph or table that could put other researchers to work for a yearand
you always felt he knew what the implications were from the
start. He was one of the godfathers of modern pace theory and
complex new betting strategies that have developed in parallel with it.
previous pace works have been evolutionary, Michael
Pizzollas Handicapping Magic is a culminationa
fusion of pace
theory and betting theory, so that they are no longer separateand
no longer theoretical. Theory-building is an
of any science. I was in on one such epoch in an unrelated
science and know that the downer comes when you get past building
into testing. Back in horse racing, I
cant tell you how
long I fumed over the fact that 6-furlong final times dont fit a
theoretical model that is a dead-nuts lock on every other distance that
horses run, from 220 Quarter Horse dashes to a mile-and-a-half at
little aside about the honesty of Science: in every
academic science (including some major cases in medicine), some
researcher somewhere has been known to fudge results to fit a
theoretical model, in order to get or maintain funding.
Handicapping may be the most honest science on earth because, if you
fudge on yourself, you lose funding.
academic sciences, there is a much greater incentive to say, Screw
the model! Go with reality!
a mountain of reality-based knowledge in Handicapping
Magic, but one of my favorite examples is perhaps a minor
one: the de-bunking of what, on the surface, appears to be a
elegant theoretical method of crediting horses for lengths gained under
certain circumstances. Through pure experience, Pizzolla
that this tended to over-represent horses abilities, so he simply
canned the theory and created a simple reality-based alternative.
the privilege of seeing this book in galleys, with
the text in one volume and the massive examples from real races in
another, so I knew it was going to be good. Even though I was
excited about it in that form, it wasnt until I saw the finished book
with the text and examples integrated that I knew it was everything I
the great things about this book is that Michael
Pizzolla is a natural-born teacher. He has taught some of
methods and techniques in live seminars and through that
school-of-hard-knocks has learned what works and what doesnt work in
getting messages across. He builds new ideas and reinforces
as you read through the book and work through the examples.
past six months, Ive been telling every one who asks
the most frequent question of figure handicapping (How do you select a
pace/speed line?), that the answer was coming soon in a new
book. This is it. Its
here: Form Cycle
Windows. If you are a figure handicapper of any
and have struggled with the selection of a representative past
performance for a horse, that concept alone is well worth the
read. If you are not a figure handicapper, then the
of betting strategiesthe most overlooked topic in horseracingwill
fill that bill for you.
you dont think Im totally biased, Ive got
to say: What is it with these Pace Guys and their
three-letter acronyms? Pace already had
now, thanks to Pizzolla, we have: PBS, PPF, and (taking them
better) LASST. Maybe if you string them all together and say
fast something magical will happen. Or, maybe you should just
read the book.