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Betting Synthetic Surfaces

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Betting Synthetic Surfaces By Bill Finley

Betting Synthetic Surfaces By Bill Finley

© DRF Press

The Bottom Line

Race-day meds, speed figures, flak jackets and safety rails, exotic pools and expanded simulcasting, Trakus, and the Breeders' Cup are but a few changes contemporary racing fans have seen over the last 30 years. However, none of these listed have generated as much press, as much discussion, and polarized racing fans as much as the introduction of synthetic surfaces to North American major league racing. Bill Finley has put together a very useful work to allow horseplayers who initially avoided synthetic tracks to eventually bet these tracks on a regular basis, as it is the betting handle that keeps the sport going.
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  • A very useful work to allow handicappers to confidently bet on synthetic races
  • Synthetic sire statistics can be put to use immediately
  • With fewer horses injured or killed, larger fields and more races can be offered
  • Overall, this is better for the player and for the sport


  • Only would be of interest to regular players who are willing to learn about and bet on synthetics.


  • Chapter 1: Synthetic Surfaces: A History Lesson

    Chapter 2: Track Bias in the Synthetic Area

  • Chapter 3: Track Bias Part 2: Ins and Outs

    Chapter 4: Turf to Synthetic: Is the Grass Greener?

  • Chapter 5: Synthetic-Surface Sires: Who's Who

    Chapter 6: Synthetic Sensations

  • Chapter 7: Synthetic to Dirt, Dirt to Synthetic: Handling the Switches
  • Chapter 8: A Leg Up: Does Training and Racing over a Synthetic Track Help?
  • Chapter 9: To Bounce or Not to Bounce?

    Chapter 10: Derby Week 2008 and the Lessons It Taught Us

  • Chapter 11: What's a Polypropylene?
  • Chapter 12: Synthetic Tracks: Safe at Any Speed?
  • Chapter 13: What the English Can Teach Us
  • Chapter 14: The Future of Synthetic Surfaces

Guide Review - Betting Synthetic Surfaces

In his new book, Betting Synthetic Surfaces, New York based turfwriter and radio host Bill Finley sets out to help horseplayers who find themselves having to bet on races on this strange new surface, which is not dirt but is definitely not turf. With the next 2 Breeders' Cups run at Santa Anita over Pro-Ride, along with major stakes such as the Lane's End, the Blue Grass, the Queen's Plate, and the Kentucky Cup, handicappers will be forced "kicking and screaming" to learn about and bet on these surfaces.

Contrary to popular belief, not all turf sires are good synthetic sires, just as not all dirt sires are poor on the synthetic. A list of sires which includes winning percentage, in-the-money percentage, and return on investment both overall and in first-time starts, covering races through December 18, 2007 is included. This may prove to be an invaluable tool when a horse is switching to synthetic from dirt or turf for the first time. Finley takes the time to explain the differences between the synthetic formulas used. Just like in the dirt world where Churchill does not feel the same as Belmont, the Poly at Del Mar plays differently from the Pro-Ride at Santa Anita.

Finley serves to educate the player on what angles to look for in synthetic races: track biases, running styles, pedigrees, form cycles, and surface switches between synthetic, dirt, and turf. He examines in detail the nuances and quirks of the new surfaces and confirms that basic handicapping fundamentals are still necessary. Although synthetic had been marketed as "bias free" in some circles, nothing could be further from the truth. The most glaring example of this is how Keeneland switched from an inside speed biased track to an outside closer track when Poly was installed. Finley is the first author to tackle all the necessary handicapping adjustments and angles.

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