1. Sports
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Expert Handicapping

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Expert Handicapping: Winning Insights into Betting Thoroughbreds

Expert Handicapping: Winning Insights into Betting Thoroughbreds by Dave Litfin

© DRF Press

The Bottom Line

DRF handicapper Dave Litfin is well known as the "Handicapper's Corner" columnist for the NYRA circuit. In 1995 he released the first edition of Expert Handicapping, in which he shared some his vast reservoir of insights on handicapping ad angles. With the handicapping environment in constant flux, old methods soon lose their effectiveness and the long-time handicapper must change with the times. In this book, Litfin, a veteran himself, helps the reader adjust his or her personal system to account for this new world of Thoroughbred racing. Much of what worked back then still works today with some adjustments.
<!--#echo encoding="none" var="lcp" -->


  • Useful update of Litfin's pivotal 1995 work of the same name
  • Adjusts 1995 techniques to 2008 realities
  • Can be helpful to horseplayers at all levels of bankroll and skill


  • No fault was found. Litfin successfully educates the reader on modern betting techniques


  • Condition Analysis and Speed Figures: explosive horses, forging horses, the recovery line, the bounce, pair-ups
  • Beyond Figures: expanded past performances, Tomlinson ratings, trainers, workouts
  • Playing the Game Today: Polytrack, track profiles, bankroll allocation, value, the Pick 4, evaluating favorites
  • The Handicapper's Handbook: The bettor's best bet -- big event days, Preakness Day 2004, Belmont Stakes Day 2006.

Guide Review - Expert Handicapping

Value has always been an important factor in betting but it is a term widely used and misunderstood. Using a statistical evaluation of favorites, Liftin reveals when the chalk may actually be a profitable play, contrary to what many old-time players would suggest. He demonstrates that the Pick 4 on big race days like the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup are the easiest way to get overlay payoffs.

The introduction of synthetic surfaces to American racing signals the biggest change to handicapping in recent memory, with long-held beliefs thrown out the window in many cases, such as the Keeneland speed bias. Assumptions about Polytrck such as consistently slow times and a closer bias also fail, with winners coming from anywhere in the pace scenario, and synthetics can actually be tweaked the way dirt was, and could be made faster or slower at the whims of the track superintendent. More data is needed, but track profiles will eventually prove more valuable, as they had always been with dirt.

Speed figure analysis has been around since the 1970's, but in today's world, betting the "fastest" horse likely gets you an underlay if not the heavy favorite. Today, form cycle analysis is the name of the name, using past figures to predict today's form; will a horse run the "race of his life" or is he on the downswing? Litfin also draws on competing products The Sheets and Thoro-Graph to further demonstrate form cycles. A long-time angle which has returned to the forefront is the often underestimated influence of trainers. A careful study of trainers' angles can lead to a profitable day. Litfin shows us how the new DRF with expanded past performance data reveals many the trainer angles needed for profitable play. Along with the Tomlinson ratings, these innovations were not in the DRF when the first edition of the book was published.

<!--#echo encoding="none" var="lcp" -->
  1. About.com
  2. Sports
  3. Horse Racing
  4. Shopping
  5. Book and Product Reviews
  6. Review - Expert Handicapping

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.