Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dave Brower: Harnessing Winners

I just finished a quick read of Dave Brower's new harness racing handicapping book "Harnessing Winners". It is a look at harness racing, mainly containing his thoughts as the track handicapper at the Meadowlands. Chapters include: Replays, Trips, Key races, Warm ups and class drops; among others.

For seasoned handicappers there is not a ton brand new, however I feel I take away at least two or three points from any book I read. And since there are so few newer harness books out there, it does fill a modern void.

For thoroughbred handicappers, or those newer to the game (or those readers who come over from 360 or the TBA here who don't know what I mean when I reference a 123 back three panels, while being checked in a blind switch), I think the topics are quite good and informative. Also, there are two sections on tracks I never play - Northfield and Yonkers. For people who want to learn a bit about those tracks, it makes for a good primer.

I agree with Dave on warm ups and a horses look on the racetrack. As well, Brian Sears in his section relays this often overlooked part of harness handicapping. I play both harness and thoroughbreds and have read three full books on body language. I feel that this factor is worth much, much more in harness than in thoroughbreds. If you are not watching the PP's and score-outs I think you are missing out on some solid plays. My last big score in fact, came from a scoreout with a trotter. When trotters are trotting sound, in a spot they can win, they can be ten lengths better than advertised.

The previously mentioned Brian Sears chapter was worth the price of the book. Brian is a good driver, no question, and that is obvious. However I have always found he is a driver that tries to leave something in the tank, unlike so many of the cowboys today. I think this is a huge reason why he is such a success. Overly aggressive drivers can have short careers, or never reach the pinnacle of the game by getting the call on stakes horses, or trotters. For claiming trainers, some of whom are long gone from the game for lighting them up like a Christmas tree, the aggressive folks can get by and make a good living, but if you want to be like Brian, leaving something in the tank is a godsend. Brian speaks of being cognizant of this in his style. He also sounds like a sharp bettor, although I have no idea if he bets or not.

For those who are looking for pure gambling logic, or tips, or a deep look at ROI driven or IV factors, one would have to look elsewhere. But for a basic skill level look at harness racing, or if you have at least a general curiosity about handicapping, it is well worth the $14, in my opinion. The book can be purchased here at the USTA store.

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