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Review: Handicapping Contest Handbook (2nd edition)

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Handicapping Contest Handbook

Handicapping Contest Handbook (2nd edition) by Noel Michaels

DRF Press

The Bottom Line

The latest craze in racing is the handicapping contest. With the advent of the NTRA's National Handicapping Championship and its many qualifiers across North America, horseplayers everywhere want a shot at the $200,000 first prize in Las Vegas. The information Michaels compiled here is very useful for the handicapper wanting to make the transition from pari-mutuel to contest play. Knowing which contests are worth entering and what strategies to use when you get there is half the battle.
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  • Good summary of past contests and results including all 6 NTRA Championship
  • Useful winning strategies for new contest players to implement
  • Excellent index of North American contests to qualify for the Championship final
  • About 100 pages longer than the first edition


  • Very narrow focus - not a book for all fans
  • Not useful for regular day-to-day horseplayers


  • Handicapping tournaments are all the rage thanks to the National Handicapping Championship (NHC).
  • With huge purses and a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas, the competition is fierce at qualifiers.
  • Michaels sets out to help contestants win in this new arena, separate from the pari-mutuel wars.
  • A history of contests from the inaugural World Series at Penn National in 1976 to the current NHC.
  • In each case he briefly outlines the contest's rules and how it was won.
  • A summary of the NHC's first six years with interview quotes from the winners and result charts.
  • Racing fans whose focus is not on specifically contest strategy would not find this volume useful.
  • Thus the star rating is aimed only at those interested in handicapping contests.

Guide Review - Review: Handicapping Contest Handbook (2nd edition)

Tournament veteran and DRF writer Noel Michaels said that his book "is meant to be a guide that gives accomplished handicappers all the tools they need to become successful tournament players. Tournaments have heir own rules, their own players, and their own separate keys to success that make them different from an ordinary day at the track. This guidebook can serve as a constant companion that can be referred to again and again as players navigate the long and winding road to the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship." He gives detailed strategies on how you would use your selections in contest play. Most contests use the NHC's rules, so his basic strategy can be applied almost anywhere. He also interviewed 21 veterans with their combined 50 tournament victories, for their secrets to success. He compiled an index of almost all tournaments in North America, of which most are qualifiers to the NHC. He lists where and when the contest is held, the maximum field size, entry fee, total purse, and rates the contest on its value-for-money and your odds of qualifying for the NHC by entering that contest. He outlines the contest's format and the prize money, and gives brief hints to success, such as the importance of knowing the local circuit and how best to apply the basic strategy under the local rules. In this new edition, he gives recommended "road trip" itineraries for players who want or need to go on tour to increase their chances of making the finals.
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