Posts

Racing Maxims and Methods of Pittsburgh Phil (Part 2)

Pittsburgh Phil: forefather of modern horse betting

Pittsburgh Phil: father of modern horse betting

Pittsburgh Phil, aka George E. Smith, was one of the most famous and successful horse racing gamblers of all time. His wisdom was condensed into a book written in 1908 called "Racing Maxims and Methods of Pittsburgh Phil". And, as you'll see in this second part of the serialization, he was a very long way ahead of his time.

Part 1 can be read here, and sets the scene perfectly for this second part, which is all about the betting process and the mechanics of 'handicapping'.

CHAPTER 3 -- The Reason for Speculation

The betting ring after all is the center around which racing as a speculation revolves. If there were no betting there would be no racing, at least as we know it today. I do not propose to enter into a discussion of the ethics of the question when I am going to treat it as a business. Such it has been to me for some years and to many other men.

Sufficient knowledge to tell when to bet, or not to bet, or when to bet heavily, is of paramount importance to every man on the track. This is based upon his knowledge of the horses, their owners, their jockeys and everything connected with them. You may know a horse or a jockey are at their best. If you have not this knowledge you will lose many a foolish bet.

The basis of all betting is the amount of profit to be obtained on an investment. That is, every bettor should have such a definite conclusion as to the probable result of the race, that he can form for himself the market value of all horses in a race, and make a schedule of the prices as they should be in his opinion. I regard that as one of the reasons why I have been successful. To explain: There is a field of six or eight horses. I figure and handicap those that have a winning chance. I then fix the odds that appear to me to be legitimate quotations. Possibly one of these horses is quoted at eight to five, another at three to one and so on down the list.

When the bookmakers put up their quotations, it has happened that my prices and the ring prices differ. In one particular case the horse that I had quoted at three to one was a favorite at seven or eight to five when the betting opened. That called for a revision of my own figures, and I handicapped the horses again to see if the error was the bookmaker's or mine. I considered each horse with regard to the particular race, the weight it carried, the distance and all other conditions, the jockeys and the stable connection. Sometimes it developed that there was a quiet report of the one particular horse being "wrong."

Such a report always sent me to the paddock where I inspected the horse myself, and if satisfied that it was in good condition I would return to the ring where I and my agents watched the doings of certain men whom I considered it necessary to observe at that particular time on account of their friendly connections with stables. If my agents reported that liberties were not being taken by the men who would do such a thing if everything was not legitimate, I could generally figure whether my quotation or the ring quotation was right. If I could get a bookmaker to bet me three to one or more against a horse winning that should, in my opinion, be no better than eight to five it was a good investment in my judgment. Upon occasions of that kind I have made my largest wagers, and I may say without egotism that my deductions were correct, so far as the scale of prices was concerned, seven times out of ten. Of course, I was wrong sometimes; no man is infallible.

Take the reverse of the race of which I have just spoken. In the first instance I made my largest wagers, but where the horse I fancy is at a price a shade less than I think it should be, I make the most modest bet. I always financed my money to the best advantage, investing much heavier when I believed I was getting a better price than I had quoted in my own mind against a certain horse. Few men knew how hard I worked during the racing season, and it was in the betting ring that my hardest work was done. It was no easy matter to watch every move of the market just as the big financiers do in Wall Street; but I had to do it.

To get all the data that I wanted before betting on a race I frequently employed a half dozen men at one time. I have supplemented their labors by an acquaintance with the runners and commissioners who ply between the paddock and the ring; I knew by sight every betting commissioner on the race tracks, whom he represented, and how heavily he bet. This knowledge was possessed by the men who worked for me. They were always on the watch for some clue to the purposes of persons who might have an important influence on the race. As a result of this there was a never ending fight of stratagem and ruse during the day. If I had watched them, I knew they watched me.

Many a time, for instance, I have seen a commissioner come into the ring and bet possibly five hundred dollars on a certain horse with a certain bookmaker, after which he would bet $100 or so with other men. Immediately the whisper would go about the ring that "so and so's commissioner was betting on such and such a horse." The unthinking and uninformed usually took that as sufficient reason for following the lead. it is here that the fine work began. My man would stand at the book where the commissioner bet his $500 and watch the effect of that wager. He would be able to tell in a few minutes.

Many a time the same bookmaker has accepted the money, say at three to one, and immediately laid the top price in the ring against the same horse. That would satisfy me. It was a bet for effect. There was collusion between the bookmaker and the commissioner, which would have to be thrown out of the betting calculation altogether. It was intended to trap the unsuspecting public and I regret to say that it frequently succeeded. Nine times out of ten such horses do not finish in the money. But such things do not happen frequently, in fact in these days of racing they are of rare occurrence.

The advantage of this particular incident to me was that it eliminated a possible contender, and in a four- or five-horse race that had an important effect. it even helped me at times in beating the race on the Dutch book system. Knowing that one horse out of four, say, was not good, I would bet on all the others, thus in some cases winning twenty-five cents for every dollar invested. In other words, I bought their dollar notes for seventy-five cents each. I recall one instance, some years ago, of the value of close observation in the betting ring. This occurred when "Mike" Dwyer was the heaviest bettor on the turf. I will not give the names of the other persons concerned for the reason that some of them are now men highly respected, and who have lived down anything that they might have done in days gone by.

The race I allude to was run at a track in the vicinity of New York City, and it was practically a two horse affair, one of the horses being owned by the Dwyer Brothers, then partners in the best stable of horses that was ever trained. To hide the identity of those concerned in the affair more thoroughly I will designate the horses as "A" and "B." I may say that the incident was about the most cowardly piece of highway robbery that ever occurred in this or any other country. The race looked such a certainty for the Dwyer horse, which i will designate "A", that when the betting opened it was a one to four shot.

Few cared to speculate at those odds, consequently the business in the ring was light. I never dreamed of making a bet that day and had dismissed the race from my mind, when as I strolled toward the paddock to look over the horses entered in the following race, I met Charley Dwyer, who was then quite a youngster. We exchanged greetings and I said that it was a walk over for his father's horse. The boy replied that his father was of the same opinion and had just given an order that $30,000 be bet on the horse at any old price. I do not know what prompted me to go back to the betting ring. Possibly it was curiosity to notice the effect of a $30,000 commission on a horse already held at one to four. To my surprise there was little or no change noticeable in the odds.

The commission had evidently not yet been placed and began to watch more closely. The horses were called to the post, and still there was no change- one to four was obtainable all over the ring, while the contender showed signs of support from some quarters. In those days, and in these days too, for that matter, a thirty thousand dollar- commission would or will drive a one to four shot to at least one to seven. There was therefore "a nigger in the woodpile." My mind worked quickly - that commission was being held out. The man, or men holding it out, would do so only with the knowledge that the jockey riding the favorite was in their conspiracy. I may say right here in justice to one of the most reputable men on the turf that this jockey was not "Jimmy" McLaughlin.

As soon as i reached this conclusion, I bet several thousand dollars on the horse designated "B." The race was run and Mr. Dwyer's horse was beaten. His thirty thousand dollars had gone into the hands of some unscrupulous men and a jockey. I never said a word to him and it is possible that he never knew the truth of the affair. A funny part of this whole transaction is that other men, who had caught the drift of things, have since accused me of being implicated in the plot, because my wagers had been heaviest. But the facts are as I have related. My betting was due solely to my close observation of the ring's proceedings.

In contrast to the foregoing, I can say that oftentimes I have been influenced by a certain person betting one hundred dollars on a certain horse, although hundreds of thousands of dollars of so called wise money may have gone on others in the same race. That one hundred dollars to me represented the confidence of a conservative owner or trainer, and was wagered only after a shrewd mind had drawn a careful conclusion. Hence it is not always the heaviest commission that counts, any more than it is the flashiest horse or the flashiest stable.

Financing your capital is one of the secrets of success on the track. You must learn to know the value of your horse. There have been times when I have bet twenty thousand dollars and at other times I hesitated about betting one hundred dollars, although the figures might show that the two horses were equally probable winners. "it all depends," and upon that little sentence hangs a world of worry and work in a maelstrom of excited humanity, the betting ring. If the ring is active with smart money coming from every quarter, and the price offered is genuine, then fail in line with a good wager if the horse being bet upon is a true performer.

Your first 30 days for just £1

There is one individual highly important to every man who bets on horses, and that is a "clocker." But he must be an expert and he must be honest or he will ruin you. I notice that much has been printed recently of early morning trials at the various tracks, but I would not place too much dependence on these reports where one man pretends to have "clocked" say fifty horses in one morning. To have recognized them, and to have got their time accurately as he is pretending, is an absurdity. Better pass that kind of information over to somebody else if you cannot get the services of a good man who will go to a track with a definite purpose of finding out how the best horses are coming along, and then report honestly. The "clocker" is something like the scout in the army.

He is on the battlefield hours before the main body arrives. He learns when a horse is doing good work, when a horse is getting too much work, when he is sulking, and that all helps. It has frequently been as much to my advantage to know when a horse is track sore as it is to know when he is rounding to form. Possibly a horse, which has gone off, becomes a favorite in a race. That gives me what is called a good "lay." That is an opportunity for me to bet that he does not win. My acquaintance with bookmakers enabled me to do this by having them bet my money for me against the public. With this knowledge also I have whipsawed a race if there were but two contenders. Knowing one was wrong I laid against him and bet on the other, beating it both ways. A game of hide and seek goes on in the betting ring. I have told the story of the five hundred dollar bet made to get the public to follow a horse that was not meant to win. I have made five hundred dollar bets in a ring on horses that I knew could not win, but my motive was to get the better of the market.

The bookmakers are not in the business for their health, and as soon as they learn that certain persons fancy a certain horse and are betting upon it, they shorten the odds upon that horse. It happens that sometimes I have been compelled to use strategy to obtain fair odds upon what I considered to be a possible winner. I have bet five hundred dollars, or more, at times on horses that I verily believed did not have a chance, simply to have the rumor get about that "Pittsburgh Phil" was betting on such and such a horse. It has sometimes had the effect I wanted.

The price of the horse I knew could not win would shorten and the price of the horse I really fancied would lengthen. Then it was that my commissioners would get busy on the dark horse, betting possibly six or seven thousand dollars. I may have lost a thousand dollars or so on the strategy bet but the odds on the other more than made up for that. When the pool rooms were running in great numbers, it was possible to get a good bet down in the city and I have frequently played the institution in the city against the other at the race track. For instance, I would bet a thousand or more dollars at the track on some horse for a place. My betting would reduce the odds on one horse and raise the price on the other. In the city my commissioners would get into action and in a few minutes the telephone and personal interviews would enable them to wager a large amount of money at a fair price on the horse I believed would win.

You cannot be a successful horse player if you are going to get the worst of the price all the time. It has taken a whole lot of maneuvering for me to keep even with the several hundred shrewd bookmakers. I know they have trailed me and my men everywhere on the track and off. They wanted to know everything that I did and was going to do. That never made me mad because it was business on their part just as it was business for me to mislead the spies. I rarely have been able to keep the same set of betting commissioners for any length of time, with the exception of Walter Keyes and my nephew "Jimmy" McGill. A few bets and my commissioners were pointed out and watched. Some of the men I have used were most interesting. I have taken them from almost every walk of life.

It has happened many a time that a bookmaker in looking over his sheet after a race has found wagers of "fifties and hundreds," cash bets, and has wondered when a rural looking stranger has come to take down the winning. I have heard the bookmakers say to the cashier, looking at a long whiskered winner, "I wonder who that man is." To which the cashier replied, "He is a stranger to me." If that same bookmaker and cashier could have seen that rural looking stranger later hand over to me the winnings, they would have regarded it as important knowledge. But I never told them and sometimes I never told my dearest friend, Walter Keyes, or my nephew. I have had strangers work for me for weeks before somebody discovered the trick after which the man's usefulness was destroyed.

To conclude this chapter, the financing of your money is the high road to success. Learn when to put down a heavy wager by picking out an almost sure winner. In a race where three or four horses have a chance to win the odds are much against you, and the wager should be small or pass the race up.

I have lost as many as twenty-seven straight bets and got even and become a winner on the next two races. The average bettor should always cut his wagers when running in a losing streak and press them when luck favors him. Doubling bets when losing is ruination to any person. The time to double is when you have the bookmakers' money in hand. If a bookmaker gets you hooked, try to wiggle off with as little loss as possible, but if you get a bookmaker hooked set in your money, and if your judgment is good and you go at him cold blooded, betting on what appears to be certainties, you have a grand chance to win a small fortune.

 

CHAPTER 4 -- Handicapping

Many systems are employed to handicap horses. Some are successful while others are decidedly faulty. In my opinion the old-fashioned way of handicapping by comparison is the best - which is to draw conclusions from weight and class standpoint, time being a minor consideration. As the official handicapper takes weights for a foundation for his work, why should a different system be employed by a player of horses? After the official handicapper has allotted the weights to be carried in a race, it is then that the player is put to the test, and it is his judgment against that of the official handicapper. If he can find a flaw in the official handicapper's work, he will probably find the winner of the race.

The player has a great advantage over the official handicapper, for the reason that he has the opportunity of considering the present condition of a horse, when the handicapper must not let such a factor enter into his calculations. When he starts his work, he bases his calculations on the best performance of every entry, and to him all entries are supposed to be in the best physical condition possible.

For instance, when Mr. Vosburgh, the Jockey Club's official handicapper, gets the entries for the Suburban and Brooklyn Handicaps in January, and the races are not run until June, there is no chance for him to consider anything but the bare facts of horse against horse. He judges on their past, and so allots the weights they are to carry, that, in his opinion, the race will finish in a dead heat as it were. He endeavors, in his calculation, so to weigh each that all will finish together. Condition enters so much into such races as the Brooklyn and Suburban Handicap, however, that out of an entry of seventy or eighty horses sometimes not more than ten go to the post.

This is not always because the owners are not satisfied with the weights allotted, but on account of sickness or mishaps of some kind that have come to the horses during their preparation, which prevents them from being sent to the post. It is rarely that more than fifteen per cent of the entries in the classical handicaps go to the post, and not more than from seven to ten per cent in the big stake races. This shows the value of the condition of a thoroughbred when called upon to race. I mention this as a fact-that the condition of a horse in a race has considerably more to do with his winning, or losing, than the weight he carries. In other words, a horse might be allotted 126 pounds in a handicap, and he might be beaten by a moderate horse carrying only 110 pounds.

This does not mean that the moderate horse will always beat him at that difference in weight, for the condition of the two horses might reverse matters very decidedly a week or two later. A horse usually carrying top weight in a handicap could not win with 90 pounds up if he is not in condition. Sysonby once ran a dead heat with Race King. Such a result could not have been possible with both horses at their best.

For instance, a horse in the Brooklyn Handicap carrying 110 pounds, might beat the top weight carrying 126 pounds, yet in the Suburban, the condition of the top weight would be so much improved that he would run away from the horse that beat him in the Brooklyn. If any of the readers of this volume will go through the records of the classical handicaps, they will see that such cases have frequently occurred. This demonstrates absolutely that the player of horses, if he is a close student of the disposition of a horse and its condition, can almost tell the official handicapper what horses should be prominent at the finish with average racing luck. This is because he knows which horses are in the best condition.

Horses are the same as human beings where condition is the test of superiority. If a first class prize fighter, foot runner or athlete of any kind, is not in good physical condition, he can be defeated by an inferior man, where if both are in the best condition possible there would be no question which would win. It is exactly the same with horses, and picking the winner of a race rests entirely upon the ability of a man to tell when a horse is in good condition and when he is not. if one good horse is not at his best and there are inferior horses which are at their best, they will beat him in nine cases out of ten. Hence the condition of a horse is of much greater importance to a person who is playing the races, to adhere to the cast iron rule of some persons who say: "because this horse gave that horse fifteen pounds in actual weight and beat him he should beat him again today."

While he might do it, it is not a sure thing, as the reverse condition of the two horses might change the result. From this cause many people attribute the result of a race to crookedness, when it is nothing more nor less than the good condition of one horse and the lack of condition of another. The trainer may not be at fault, he has possibly done the best he could and possibly believes his horse to be in excellent condition. But horses cannot talk. They cannot tell you when they are not feeling well, and they do not always give any outward sign, though they occasionally do. I have had horses which I believed to be in the most perfect condition, yet they ran most disappointing races. I have seen horses work for a race and the work has been so impressive to my mind that I have made very large wagers on them; yet two days later in the actual race, when they should have run up to their work, they have fallen far behind. Many times a very fast work before a race does more harm to a horse than good.

From this a very common saying has arisen among the trainers: I worked my horse this morning 1 1/4 miles in 2.06, and he looks as if he will win sure." The other trainer will reply: "You have just about made him run his race to-day," and it has been proven times out of number, the fast work of two days prior having dulled his speed.

To get down to actual handicapping, you begin with the old fashioned scale weight, wherein it is prescribed that horses of certain ages shall give horses their junior so much weight at certain distances, and at different seasons of the year. This scale is the real foundation of handicapping. After a race in which these horses have met, the handicapper will decide for himself which horse is the best under the scale condition, and in future races he will put on or take off weight as he deems fitting to bring them together, or to make them run a dead heat as it were.

A man like Mr. Vosburgh, who has had years of experience and has the value of every horse that he has seen run at his finger ends, can so allot the weights that to the casual it will be mystifying. I have seen handicaps of ten horses in a race where it was next to impossible to tell which would win out of the ten. This is where the man who is a judge of the condition of a horse and of his disposition has an advantage over those who have not acquired such knowledge. It may be that some of the horses will not run over the track prescribed, while others have performed creditably over it. Some horses will not carry their weight as well as others.

Then again jockeys will make a great difference in the running of horses. All these things have to be considered and every horse must be treated separately and his entire disposition analyzed. Some things will be found in his favor and others will be found against him. After drawing a conclusion as to the most probable winner, one of the most important items is to draw a mind picture of how the race will be run - for there are many times that some horses are aided considerably by the way a race is run. while others are killed off early in the race.

One thing can be depended upon positively-if there are two or three very fast horses in a race, one or two of them will quit before the end of the journey if the route is of reasonable length. In other words they will race themselves into the ground, generally because their jockeys have no better sense than to be carried along with the early pace in a race. It is in such cases that an intelligent rider will sometimes win on the third or fourth best horse. This is where an intelligent jockey has a great value, for he profits by the mistakes of others-and lest I forget it, in future talks, you can say right here that seventy-five per cent of the inconsistency in horse-racing, which is generally put down to criminality, is nothing more nor less than lack of intelligence on the part of the jockeys.

Many times a handicapper is deceived in horses through their poor showing in races. This usually is when horses are going back after having reached the keen edge of condition. Sharp, practical trainers will then run them three or four times, knowing that they are not at their best, the intent being to get the handicapper to reduce their weight in races. Then there will be a lapse of time before such horse is entered again, but he will appear on the list with possibly the same weight to carry as he did in his last race. Instead of being in poor condition the rest he has had will have done him good, and he will be in perfect condition.

It is in such cases that killings are made. In speaking of killings many are attempted but few are accomplished, for the reason that while one man has been conniving to make a killing with one horse, there are others that have been playing the same game, and frequently three or four killings are attempted in the same race, when only one can be made. The others will be losers.

If a player can, through close observation of the market, find out that three or four different horses are being heavily played, it is a good time to test his skill as a handicapper to decide which in his opinion is the best horse of the number, and speculate accordingly, and if he cannot determine for himself exclusive of tips, stable information and the like, which is the best horse, it is best for him to watch the race without speculating, for he will not confine his attention to the one horse he is playing, but divide it between all the horses concerned, and he may see something during the running of the race that will stand him in good stead upon some future occasion, when the same horses meet again, as they frequently do after a short interval.

I have made several big winnings during my career. The biggest I ever attempted was on Parvenue, but unfortunately I did not win one-fifth of the money that I should have won, owing to a technicality. I owned Parvenue and he was a good racehorse, so good that I never really knew how good he was. A race came up at Monmouth Park for which he was eligible and I prepared him for it. Prior to my purchase of him he was a common sort of horse, but he improved much after I bought him; consequently few knew very much about him, or even entertained the thought of his improving sufficiently to beat good horses, but he had shown me in his work that he could do almost anything I wanted him to do. He looked such a real good investment to me that I had five or six men in the pool rooms of New York, of which there were many in those days, and each one had from two thousand to four thousand dollars to invest.

When the betting opened, Parvenue was quoted in some books as high as forty to one, and my commissioners told me afterwards that they placed some money at those odds, and that the lowest price they took was fifteen to one. At the track i also had several commissioners betting my money, and the lowest they got was twelve to one. Just before it was time to go to the post there was some trouble in the steward's stand. A horse, I believe it was Dagonet, had been carded on the programme to carry a certain weight, when according to the condition he should have had a much lighter or heavier impost. The mistake was not discovered until nearly post time, and the stewards decided to scratch the horse. All bets were declared off, and a new book was made.

This, of course, upset my calculations entirely. It at once disturbed the equilibrium of things. The men in the pool rooms, who had bet my money, had to wait in line to get their money back again, and when the new prices were put up Parvenue was quoted at much less odds owing to the big commission having been placed all over town, and becoming common property. The same condition of things existed at the track. My commissioners there had to wait and get their money back before they could bet it again, and this time when the prices were quoted, the highest I got was twelve to one. Much of the money was placed back again on the horse by my commissioners in the city and on the track, but nothing like the original amounts. It is unnecessary to say that Parvenue won all by himself, and after all the trouble and excitement I won over $45,000. 1 was so disgusted with the turn affairs had taken that I really never reckoned up how much money i would have won on the race had not the bets been declared off the first time, but it would have been an enormous sum.*

[* I interviewed "Sam" Doggett, who rode Parvenue in this celebrated race, and he gave me the most lucid description of "Pittsburgh Phil's" confidence in the horse and his coolness under such nerve straining conditions. He had thousands upon thousands of dollars at stake when he gave Doggett instructions how to ride. In the language of Doggett: . . . " `Pittsburgh came into the paddock and said to me, `Sam, you are riding a pretty good horse. Just let him rate along, and when you get to the head of the stretch let him down for a few strides and you will be in front. After you get there do not show him up too much.' Why, if he had been my horse and I had four hundred dollars depending on him I would have won by a sixteenth of a mile if I could, and I think if I had ever known the amount of money he stood to win on that horse I do not really know what would have happened, but I did not know that he was betting more than one hundred

dollars on him. You talk about a cool and collected man, 'Pittsbugh Phil' stood alone. He knew more about horses and horse racing than anyone and seemed to have phenomenal knowledge and confidence in his own ability. The Editor.]

In handicaps the top weights are at a disadvantage always, unless they are very high class horses, for the reason that they have to do so much more work than their opponents. It is not advisable for the top weights in a long race, say at one and a quarter miles or longer, either to make the pace or follow it too closely; for if there is too much speed in the early stages of the race it will affect the horses that try to keep up with the leaders; hence it will be seen that the top weights are generally mixed up in the middle of the bunch or in the rear if they happen to get off badly,

which causes them effort in threading their way through the field, especially if it contains anywhere from twelve to sixteen horses. They have to be very intelligently ridden to avoid interferences from horses that are dropping back, and many times they have to run outside three or four horses when they are making their run, which is very costly, for a horse loses considerable ground in running outside other horses. Then there is always the chance of their being jumped on or cut down in a race. In fact there is so much racing luck against horses, especially those carrying the heavier weights, that they are many times beaten through bad luck.

I once went over the year's record of Ethelbert and found that he lost thirty per cent of his races through bad racing luck-races that he would have won under normal conditions. This rule would not apply to a horse like Hamburg, or any very high class horse, because a real high class horse is good enough to go to the front from the start, or attain such a position in the advance guard that he will not be bothered nearly so much as a horse like Ethelbert, which was not a high class horse, but merely a first class handicap horse.

All these things have to be considered well when seeking for the winner of a handicap, or in fact any other kind of a race. Many a time a good horse is beaten in the spring of the year through lack of condition. There are few trainers who can send a horse to the post the first time out for a big race, in perfect condition. The horse may appear so to them, but they lose sight of the fact that a horse that has been trained for the race in private, should be fit to run a mile and a quarter if he is expected to run a mile race. I mean by this, that when a horse has not had a race for some months and has been prepared for a hard struggle he loses a certain amount of nervous energy while walking round the paddock, while being saddled, in the parade going to the post and in waiting for a start.

The surroundings of a race track have a great effect on some horses. They are high strung and of nervous temperament, and they waste a whole lot of energy and a great deal more the first time out after a let up than they do after a race or two. There is nothing like racing horses to be assured of their condition. One race for a horse is equal to two or three private trials. It will do him more good. It will make him hardier and it will relieve his nervous condition considerably.

A horse can be compared to an actor in this regard. An actor going to produce a new play, while he has all the ability and is satisfied in himself that he is perfect in every detail, will invariably falter at some stage or another the first night, but he will improve after that first night's experience. So it is with the majority of horses. There are some horses that seem to be devoid of nervousness. They do not fret or worry about anything. McChesney is an example. There was a horse that walked around the paddock like an old cow. He would not lose an ounce of nervous energy in a year under any condition. If he were keyed up to run one mile and a quarter he would run one mile and a quarter. You could bet anything that he would run the race that he was ready for. McChesney is an exception in this regard.

It is in such cases as these that the "clockers," the man who gets up at three o'clock in the morning to watch the horses working, is a necessary adjunct to a successful horse player. If he is a good man he will tell you exactly what the horses are doing and how they are doing it. It is not always a question with him that because a horse has worked three-quarters in 1.13 he should beat a horse that has only worked three quarters in 1.14. The horse that has worked in 1.13 has possibly received a hurried preparation, and being of a nervous disposition possibly would lose a certain amount of energy before a race, while the horse that has been worked in 1.14 has been steadily prepared and possibly carried heavier weights while working than the horse that worked in 1.13. It does not follow that because a horse has worked three-quarters in 1.13 that he will run in 1.13 in his race. He may do it much better alone than in company. It is in such cases that the disposition of a horse is the deciding factor. Then again a horse may be fully extended that has worked in 1.13, while the horse that worked in 1.14 had considerable in reserve. It is only the expert "clocker" who can discover such things, by his constant watchfulness.

I have found that track conditions are of the utmost importance. Some horses will run good races over certain tracks, while in the same company under similar conditions on other tracks they will run very disappointingly. A horse will run a good race at Sheepshead Bay while at Gravesend he will run quite the contrary.

There also are horses that like the shape of some tracks and not others; but I attribute this change of form to the action of a horse more than anything else. There are many horses that cannot make sharp turns, while others are exceedingly nimble.

For instance, Lady Amelia can run around a hat, while a great big horse finds it difficult to make a good turn. Hermis can run on any old track. He is a good horse. The same can be said of Beldame. In fact good level headed thoroughbreds can be depended upon almost anywhere. It is only what I term sucker horses that book their going and have likes and dislikes.

The Bennings track, for instance, has a very deep soil, and it takes a mighty muscular horse to win there. It needs a horse with strength. A strong horse with only moderate speed-a rater I might say, would beat a much faster horse at Bennings for the reason that the fast horse would become leg weary, and the strong horse will get him when he is nearing the finish.

On any track like Bennings where the going is deep and of a sandy nature, it is a good system to play horses that have shown a liking for such a track. If you will look over the records you will find that winners repeat frequently, while those which are defeated will be defeated almost continuously.

I won many wagers through studying the disposition of horses on certain tracks. Nothing could be more noticeable in this respect than the running of some horses on the grass track at Sheepshead Bay. It is a recognized fact that some horses improve many pounds over the grass course. One in particular, Decanter, you could always depend upon to run a good race over the turf.

There is another important item in regard to the turf course at Sheepshead Bay. It has a peculiar formation, and one of the fundamental principles in trying to figure out the winner is the early speed of a horse. Early speed is essential and a horse possessing that commodity has a much better chance to win over the turf course at Sheepshead Bay than a slow beginner, as the trailing horses usually go very wide on the turns owing to their not being banked the same as they are on the main courses. While horses do win over the turf course and come from rear positions they have to be much the best.

Another fact that I discovered in horses racing over the turf is that they will go further than they will over a dirt course. They do not get tired so quickly. A sprinter, which has been used to running three-quarters of a mile, will go a mile over the turf invariably.

A horse accustomed to running one and one sixteenth-mile races, will hold out for one mile and a quarter on the turf. I was never satisfied as to the cause of this but thought possibly that the footing was better and did not cup out with the horses like it does over a dirt course, which is naturally trying on the muscles, as it is to a man who tries to run over the sand at the seashore.

Next week: Handicapping by Time; Class and Weight; and, Treatment of Horses

 

Racing Maxims and Methods of Pittsburgh Phil (Part 1)

Pittsburgh Phil: forefather of modern horse betting

Founding father of modern horse betting

George E. Smith, aka Pittsburgh Phil, was one of the most famous horse players of all time. Operating in the late 1800's through to shortly prior to his death in 1905, Smith aggregated close to $100 million in today's money from his on track gambling.

Before he died, he shared his 'maxims and methods' with friend and confidante, Edward Cole, and these were published in 1908. Just the 107 years later, they remain a fine read, flecked with timeless good sense. In this first part of a serialization of Racing Maxims and Methods of Pittsburgh Phil, Smith shares his overview of what is involved in being a successful horse bettor; and how a day at the track would unfold for him.

PREFACE

Throughout the turf world and throughout the world in general, there live a great many persons who believe that the success of George E. Smith - "Pittsburgh Phil" - on the race track, was due more to a run of good luck than to the employment of skillful business methods.

The writer has seen him make wagers at the tracks on the Metropolitan Circuit and win large sums of money. As now and then the amounts of his winnings became known, spectators sighed and wondered why they could not have been so "lucky" as this clear headed young man hailing from the busiest city of Pennsylvania.

It was not luck that won a fortune for "Pittsburgh Phil." It was the application of one of the shrewdest minds that ever undertook to make racing a business and not a gambling uncertainty. There were times when "Pittsburgh Phil" might have been lucky for a moment, as everybody engaged in business is lucky at some time or another, but for the most part the bulk of his fortune was obtained because he went about the matter of racing on a strictly business basis, and gave exactly as much and similar attention to it as the prosperous broker or banker gives to his.

The peculiar value of this little work is that it contains the only personal interviews which "Pittsburgh Phil" ever gave to any man in regard to the proper methods to be applied to cope with racing and its various emergencies.

Although hundreds tried to interview him at one time or another, he refused absolutely to say anything regarding his manner of handling his wagers, his channels of obtaining information, or the system which he applied to make race speculation worth as much to him as stock speculation is worth to the broker.

To the writer he talked freely. At various times he entered exhaustively into the plans which he had made on various occasions and the methods which he had used to be successful in his business. He considered it as much a legitimate business as trading in cotton or oil. He scouted the notion that anyone could win on the turf purely by luck, and said that the man who would be successful should be able not only to know his horses, but to know the methods of those who were engaged in the direct control of the horses. Further than that he insisted that one must study the bookmakers and their methods, and in this volume it is explained how he managed his affairs so as to win a fortune of more than $1,700,000, by knowledge of the subject with which he was dealing.

George Smith was one of the quietest men who has ever lived in connection with American turf affairs.

When others would be inclined to boast of their success, Smith would shrink from publicity, and fairly run at the sight of a reporter, if he thought one were come to question him about his prosperity.

He began as a cork cutter in Pittsburgh. That life to him was slow and dreary, and he made up his mind early that he would get away from it. He had no fixed plan as to what he would do, but he once remarked rather dryly, "that he thought he could do a little better than cutting corks, inasmuch as he knew how to divide six by two." He was a man of exemplary habits, very fond of his immediate relatives, and never forgetful of a friend.

His first speculation was in baseball. At one time there was not a little betting in Pittsburgh on the national game, a practice which afterward dropped out of fashion. In any event, at this particular period, "Pittsburgh Phil" gathered some ready cash and came to the East to study race track methods.

He did not begin to speculate on the turf extensively until he was well posted, and had become well versed in a great deal of valuable information through experience. He began betting with the proverbial shoestring: then he continued the business which proved so successful until within a short time prior to his death.

The work, to which this is a preface, tells plainly and simply how "Pittsburgh Phil" managed his affairs to accumulate a fortune. Some of it is almost in his exact language, but all of it is authorized and direct. In its way it is a novel addition to turf literature, and it is quite probable that all who are interested in the turf will find a great many hints which will be of assistance to them in the future. Doubtless there will be many who will perceive that speculation on races is not so much blind guessing as it is applied study to the hundred and one details which are necessary to be successful.

- EDWARD W. COLE

 

CHAPTER 1 -- What One Must Know to Play the Races

Playing the races appears to be the one business in which men believe they can succeed without special study, special talent, or special exertion. For that reason the bookmakers ride around in automobiles and eat at Delmonico's, while the majority of the regular race-goers jokingly congratulate themselves lucky if they have the price of a meal and carfare.

Why a man, sensible in other things, holds this idea I have never been able to satisfy myself. He knows, and will acknowledge, that such methods would mean failure to him as a merchant, or as a broker, or as a business man in any other walk of life, but he never seems to apply that knowledge to racing. It must be that the quick "action" hypnotizes him, or the excitement dazzles him, or that he thinks himself too lucky to lose---I never could tell exactly which.

There are many men playing the races, nowadays, and the majority of them are losing. Some are winning, however, and while they are few, they are the characters that we must analyze and whose methods we must study if we would succeed as they do.

Seldom does one hear anything about these men until facts are studied below the surface at the race track. Then you hear everything about them. They are envied; they are called lucky; they are said to be men who always have some unfair advantage in a race. In fact you hear all reports about them except the truth. I am not putting the plunger in this class; that is the man who accumulates a bank roll one day to lose it the next. He is the comet of the racing world. He lights up everything one minute and the next minute he "lights out." Think it over yourself, and count on your fingers the names of the men who have made the flashlight bank rolls at the track. Where are they now? Few can answer. There is no comparison between them and the good solid speculator who studies and works hard to insure success.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Concerning the class that I mentioned above, the class that includes the men who quit winners year after year, one seldom hears of them until able to separate all the elements that go to make up racing. They are orderly, decent and quiet. They go about their business without bluster. They are calm, no matter how much excitement may be around them, for they are only there for business. They would have succeeded, I believe, had they turned their talents in some other direction than toward racing, and when you have analyzed their mental force you will have found men who are cool, deliberate in action, men of strong will power and of a philosophical nature. You will find that all have energy and the bulldog trait of sticking to one idea. You will find them exceedingly quick in sizing up a situation and just as quick to take advantage of it. It does not matter what their breeding may be, their birth or training afterwards, if they have these talents they are almost certain to be men of success. They have gone a long way toward winning before they ever began to bet.

A man who has not an opinion of his own and the ability to stick to it in the face of all kinds of arguments-and argument includes betting odds in a race - has not one chance in a million to beat the races for any length of time. One who is susceptible to "tips," or what is known as paddock information, may get along very well for a while, but I have yet to find one who has stuck to this line who could show a bank roll of any dimensions. Men like Charles Heaney, W. Beverley, "Mattie" Corbett, "Cad" Irish, "Pack" McKenna, "Ike" Hakelburg, and others of their class, all exceedingly successful handicappers, never think of seeking information as a basis for their betting. They rely upon their own judgment entirely and never form that judgment until after the most careful consideration. To them paddock and stable information is only an incident to confirm their previous judgment. Frequently I have met a half dozen owners and trainers of horses which have been entered in the same race and each has told me that his horse could not lose. I therefore had a half dozen "tips" on the same race, and it was there that my own judgment stood me in good stead.

Now what do the form players and successful handicappers know about horses? Well, I might say, incidentally, that they know the capabilities of every good horse in training, and have an accurate idea of what he will do under all circumstances. They know his habits, and his disposition as well, and perhaps better than you know your own brother. They know when he is at his best and when otherwise. They know what weather suits him, what track he likes best, what distance he likes to go, what weight he likes to carry, and what kind of a jockey he likes to have on his back. They know what the jockeys can do and what they cannot do, and in addition to that, they are close observers in the betting ring. If there is anything wrong it generally shows in the market.

Does not that mean some study? Can a man who regards racing as easy, who spends only an hour or so looking up the "dope," figuring upon horses as they would on a piece of machinery by time and weight, know as much as they do? It takes them years of constant close, cool-headed observation to acquire this knowledge, and at that the returns are often meager.

I have said that they know the horses. By this I do not mean that they know all the horses racing. The smartest player does not know every horse that runs any more than he bets on every race. He pays attention only to the better class of horses. The others that win only once or twice a year, he dismisses from his calculation. He knows that upon the money lost on bad horses the bookmaker thrives. But so soon as one of these horses from the rear rank shows any consistent form he is added to the list of representative horses and is thereafter considered.

Being possessed of an extraordinary memory, I can keep all the information I need about a horse in my head. Not all of the men I am speaking of can do this. I can recall a long passed race vividly, every detail of it, the weight carried, the distance, the condition of it and every incident that happened during the running. Few can do this and they have substituted a system of bookkeeping by which they accomplish a similar result.

I have said that a player of the races must be philosophical. He must not get upset by a series of winnings any more than by a succession of losses. The minute a man loses his balance on the race track he is like a horse that is trying to run away. He gets rattled. He throws discretion to the wind. If he is winning he simply believes that he cannot lose, and immediately afterward gets a bump that may put him out of business. If he is losing he becomes the prey of every kind of information and influence. I have known men who bet thousands of dollars on a race when in that state of mind, to play a "tip" given to them by a boy who sells chewing gum, a cast off stable boy, or a bartender.

It has been my observation that the best thing for a man in that condition to do is to leave the track entirely and take a vacation amid other scenes. Racing is not going to stop to-morrow nor next week. It is going on somewhere in the United States three hundred and thirteen days in the year. He can come back and there will be plenty of money for him to win, if he can win it.

One of the important rules of the men who win at the race track is that they must have absolute freedom from distraction and interference of all kinds. The successful race player knows there is a bar and a cafe at the track, and that there are some very interesting conversationalists to be met with every few steps, but he has no time for either the bar or the funny story tellers. I may appear to be exceedingly cold blooded, but for the benefit of my friends, I must say that a man who wishes to be successful cannot divide his attention between horses and women.

A man who accepts the responsibility of escorting a woman to the race track, and of seeing that she is comfortably placed and agreeably entertained, cannot keep his mind on his work before him. Between races, a man has enough to do without replying to the questions asked by her. This is of so much importance in my opinion that it has only been upon very rare occasions, and then in Saratoga, that I have asked even my mother to accompany me. Upon such days the card showed to me that there was little chance for speculation and I would, therefore, be free to devote my time otherwise. A sensible woman understands this and cannot feel hurt at my words. I do not wish to say that she should not be permitted to enter the race track. On the contrary, she is an addition and an adornment to a beautiful scene, and she should always be welcome, but if you are going to make a business of betting, you must not let a thought for anything else interfere.

All consistently successful players of horses are men of temperate habits in life. Speculation on the turf, as in all other kinds of business, requires the best efforts of its devotees. You cannot sit up all night, drink heavily, and dissipate otherwise and expect to win money at the race track. You could not do it in Wall Street, and you could not do it running a store, so why do you expect to do it there? I do not mean that you are not to have any diversion whatever. Healthful recreation and relaxation are just as necessary to the race player as to any other business man. If a man does not get it, he becomes what in turf vernacular would be called "brain sour." If a horse is continually worked and raced he loses his speed, health and ambition and has to be freshened with a rest. He is "track sour" and stale. It is exactly the same with a man, and he will realize it, sooner or later.

I have spoken this way about what kind of man I think the successful race player should be. I have not touched on the morality of playing the races, because i do not think it is under discussion. Some men may say, or think, that racing attended by betting has a harmful influence. I have nothing to say about that. There must be speculation in every branch of business, whether it is racing or keeping a dry goods store. In that respect all business may be said to have a harmful effect also. The ethics of the question do not concern me. Speculating upon racing was the one thing that I believed I was best fitted to do, and therefore 1 did it. I have no regrets or apologies to offer.

 

CHAPTER 2 -- One Day's Work at the Track

There is no better way of making plain what a successful racing man is, than to tell of his day at the track. What he does and what he will not do. How he conducts himself. How he remains always master of the situation and of himself. It seems to me that will be the best kind of a lesson for the man who would like to share with him in his general prosperity.

Preparation for a day at the track begins the night before, of course, for then the entries of the day are studied, impossibilities are eliminated, and the contenders are decided upon. This is succeeded by an early retirement in a condition that will guarantee natural rest from the fatigue of the day at hand. Being of a philosophical frame of mind, as I have said, the excitement and nervous strain of the incidents of the previous day are to be dismissed from the mind, and sleep is to be wooed without a rival.

As a result, the racing man should arise in the morning, cool and clearheaded, and with the first opening of his eyes he should again take up the problem of the day. The horses come before him at once and they never leave until after the contest is decided. I think about them the very first thing when I awaken, weighing them in one light, and from one standpoint and another. As I dress and eat my breakfast, I am placing them here and there, giving each a chance until at last from all standpoints I decide which one, in a truly and perfectly run race, devoid of the hundred or more unlooked for incidents that can happen, should be the winner.

In this frame of mind I go to the track. Once I enter the gate it is all business with me, and my programme of one day does not change. I get the names of the jockeys and the positions of the horses at the post, if it is a race in which I believe there is a fair speculative opportunity. I know, of course, the kind of day it is, and the condition of the track. I next go up into the grand stand and watch the horses warming up. This is of the utmost importance, for although my mind may be centered on two, or possibly three horses, at the same time it is important that I watch the others for fear there may be an unexpected display of form in any of them. If I do not see any of the horses, I had in mind, warm up, I immediately go to the paddock, after having my agent bring me the betting quotations. Arriving there I devote my time and attention entirely to the contenders, as I have picked them, and to nothing else.

It is impossible to overestimate the value of this ability to tell the condition of a thoroughbred. It is the twin sister of handicapping and more important. In that respect the ordinary form handicapper is, so to say, handicapped. What may appear to be right on paper, very, very often is wrong in the paddock. This ability to tell whether a horse is at its best before a race is acquired only after years of the closest kind of study. The merest tyro can tell in a race whether a horse is doing its best, but when it comes to getting a knowledge of what he can be expected to do before a race from a blanketed animal walking about the paddock or standing in his stall, special knowledge is necessary. It is not a talent. A man is not born with it: he must acquire it by hard work and close observation. He must be able to decide whether a horse is in good condition or not, whether he appears to feel like running a race or otherwise.

If a horse looks dull in the eye, dry, or moves and acts sluggishly, it is to me almost a sure sign in the majority of cases that he is not at his best. I say a majority of cases, because there are exceptions to every rule and some of the best horses we have ever bred had no more animation apparently than a "night hawk" cab horse before a contest. Some of these horses need only a warm up gallop on the way to the post to get out of their dull condition. You often see a jockey ride at top speed after the parade in front of the grand stand, to the starting judge, and you may usually depend upon it that it is for livening purposes. Frequently trainers want to deceive the public as to the condition of the horse, by having it appear dull and of little account in the paddock. This helps in the betting, and after all it is not an unfair strategy, because to them it is just as important to win a bet as it is to you and me. It is here that your knowledge of the disposition of a horse will stand you in good stead. If you have studied him properly you will know whether he needs the usual warm up, a preliminary gallop of a quarter of a mile, or a sprint of an eighth, or again simply a jog to the post.

An inspection of the horses in the paddock pays me for another reason. It tells of the nervous condition of a horse. Nerves are as important to a horse in training as to a person engaged in any physical contest. Poor nerves are indicated by "fretting," and a horse that frets is a very dangerous betting proposition. I can illustrate this by one particular instance in which a horse showed to me distinctly that he would not be able to repeat the high class race of a short time before. This was a horse called Pulsus. In my calculations, I became convinced that all other things being favorable he would have an excellent chance to win.

Pulsus did not warm up for the race I have in mind, so I went into the paddock to see him. I was surprised at his appearance. He was as nervous as a horse could possibly be. He had "broken out," so that the perspiration was literally running off his skin in a stream. My eyes told me that he had lost at least one hundred pounds in weight since his last race, and was certainly not within twenty-five pounds of his previous form, simply through nervous strain in his stall and the excitement in the paddock. Pulsus was one of the favorites that day. I forget just what price they were taking, but I know that it was less than two to one. I made up my mind that I would not play him straight, or place, at a thousand to one, so I looked elsewhere for the winner, and I instructed a bookmaker to lay against Pulsus for me straight and place for a considerable sum of money.

The result was a fair winning as Pulsus was nowhere. His energy and stamina gone, he finished back in the ruck.

Now having inspected the three horses, or whatever number I have in mind, as possible contenders, I discover perhaps that one or two of them, in my opinion, are not in the most promising condition to run a winning race. The scene of my operations shifts immediately from the paddock to the betting ring. I find there that the favorite is one of the horses whose looks did not impress me in the paddock and it is here that the first exercise of will power begins.

There is something about a favorite that seems to sway players to bet upon him. Their own judgment in many cases tells them that the horse in question is in a false position, but they become afraid of themselves. A majority of players will fancy that particular horse, and the individual will begin to wonder if his judgment is right. Just as the evening newspapers publish a consensus of the opinions of the newspaper handicappers, so the prices in the ring is publishing the consensus of the best handicappers at the track. It takes a strong man to disregard this, but I have always done so without any hesitation.

No matter what the class, the previous performances, or the prestige of the horse which has been played into favoritism, or the stable to which it belongs, or of the jockey that is to ride, or of the money bet upon it, I look elsewhere for the winner if he does not suit me. Mechanically I take up the second choice and subject it to as severe a handicapping test as was the winner, and if the second choice fails to come up to the standard I pass it by just as willingly as I did the first.

Prices and public opinion have absolutely no influence upon me at this time. I have gone down a list of entries until I have reached a horse that was possibly a rank outsider in the opinion of experts. Upon that horse I pin my faith and upon that horse I bet my money if other circumstances justify me. Men have often wondered how I could play a third or fourth choice in the race. It was simply because my judgment commanded me to do it. I may have been wrong, but after the race I knew why I was wrong. It was costly knowledge, but it was not useless, because it would serve me some other day.

The race is run, let us say. The shouts of the winners and the groans of the losers die away. From the grand stand there comes a rush of men on their way to the betting ring. Some to cash their wagers and others to make wagers on the next race. The horses which have been the object of all their hopes a minute before, are forgotten by the multitude. They are pulled up on the back stretch, turn and canter back to the stewards, the jockeys dismount by permission and the animals are turned over to their handlers with no more than a little perfunctory applause from the grand stand.

I say the multitude has forgotten, the multitude generally, but there are some men at the track to whom this period is of the utmost importance. You will see these men along the rail close to the judges' stand, or up in the big stand with their eyes glued to their field glasses. I have heard the uninformed say, when observing this: "That man is still running the race." It is not necessary to reply to such remarks for time is too precious. I want to know how a horse pulls up after a race, how the effort has affected him, whether he won easily without calling upon his reserve power, or whether he was distressed and all out. Many a time one horse has beaten another by a length or two, but with an expenditure of effort that told, while the beaten horse was not palpably distressed.

It will take considerable time for the winner to recover from his effort. The second horse will be improved by the race. The physical make up of horses has much to do with this. There are some light barreled horses, mares particularly, which feel the effects of a race more than others. Suppose such a mare were entered in a race two or three days later, against practically the same field, being convinced that the strain had told I might bet, other conditions being favorable, on the horse that ran second, or even third. When I have won after such procedure, I have been accused by some of having what they term "an ace in the hole;" that is, they have accused me of having had jockeys pull a horse in one race to make a killing in the next, when it is nothing in the world but my close observation after the previous race had been run.

During the running of the race my glasses never leave the horses engaged. I see every move they make. I can see that this one is not in his stride, or is running unnaturally, or is being ridden poorly. I can see if a horse is sulking, what horse is fit, what horse is unfit. After the race is run, it is sometimes said a horse has had a bad ride, or that the trainer has sent him to the post in an unfit condition, or anything and everything, except the truth.

Knowing the disposition of all the good horses, I am able to say pretty clearly that the failure of a horse to do better was due to chance, or unintelligent handling, perfectly innocent in themselves. Possibly the jockey had given him a cut of the whip at the post, which made him sour; possibly the track did not suit him. His post position, the size of the field or a bump in a jam may have taken away his courage. He may have been bumped on the start, shut off, pocketed, roughed, or interfered with in a dozen ways. Whatever it was I tried to locate the trouble and record it for the future.

Take an illustration of this - Eugenia Burch was a mare that would run an exceptionally good race if she could have an outside position and was not bothered in any way. It was this fact that made her somewhat erratic, as they say, in her running. In a small field, with an outside position she could be expected to show her best form. She could run around her field very impressively. She was naturally a slow beginner and she always had to go around her field. Now if she were in a big field and had an inside position, where she would be bumped and knocked about in the early stages, she would never extend herself until the coast was clear, and then it was usually too late.

Thus she had been beaten often by horses inferior to her, and there had been some comment on that fact by persons who did not understand the mare. I think she was timid and in that particular she was like some jockeys I have known. They will ride much better on the outside than they will in the middle of a bunch. Such riders, I am glad to say, are in a minority, but they exist just the same, and it is for you to find out who they are, and to classify them for future consideration. On the other hand, the majority of the horses and riders are game, and will fight for victory no matter where they are placed.

While speaking about this I can recall seeing horses fight their way through a field irrespective of conditions, ridden at the same time by a timid boy. The spectacle was disheartening to me as it must have been to the horse itself. I have seen a good game horse striving with all his heart, fighting his rider to allow him to push into a space that only his trained eye told him gave him a chance for victory. I have seen these horses plough between two other horses and spread them apart as a giant football rusher will do with only the goal in his mind. Gold Heels was that kind

of a horse. He was always fighting. No matter where he was, or what were the surrounding conditions, he was doing his work like a bulldog. He was never daunted and he never stopped until his physical powers failed. Gold Heels was the "bear," Eugenia Burch was the other extreme. This calls to mind another horse who may be said to illustrate another phase of the case. Previous belonged to M. F. Dwyer, and he was good and game as a horse could be, but there were times when nothing could induce him to extend himself, and those times were when Willie Simms was on his back. Simms was one of the best jockeys this country ever knew, but somehow or other he and Previous could not agree. The rider could use every art he knew, every wile and stratagem, but Previous would not get away at the post, would not run, and would not extend himself. Put a stable boy on the same horse and Previous could be depended upon to run a good race, and when Tod Sloan rode him he would always do his best.

I mention Tod Sloan. In my opinion he was possibly the greatest rider the world ever knew on a sulking horse. I have seen him mount the sourest, sulkiest, most intractable horses in training and have seen them run kindly from beginning to end. He had a happy knack of getting acquainted with a horse as soon as he got on its back. He has always told me that he catered to the disposition of his mount, by allowing it to do as it pleased so long as it was in a good position. His maxim was to hold a horse well together, reserving as much speed as possible for the last moment. On the subject of jockeys I have discovered that there are some who excel on heavy tracks. This may appear strange to the average reader, but it is credible when we remember that there are riders so chicken hearted that if they get hit in the face by a lump of mud they give up all hope of winning. The other boys go on just as determined as ever.

"Skeets" Martin was and is a good mud rider, and it was this knowledge that caused me to put him up on Howard Mann, which won the Brooklyn Handicap, beating my other two entries, Belmar and The Winner. "Tod" Sloan was riding for me then and he knew that Howard Mann could beat good horses in the mud, but he did not think he could outstep Belmar. I believed that Howard Mann could beat Belmar under certain conditions and told Martin so. I believed Martin was better than Sloan in the mud, and when Sloan chose the mount on Belmar I was secretly pleased. The only orders I gave in the race were to Martin to get up on Howard Mann, get off, and go on about his business. I added in a joking way that if "Tod" were within hearing distance of him at the head of the stretch to tell him to hurry home or he would be too late. Whether "Skeets" ever said it I do not know, but if he did "Tod" never heard him; Howard Mann was half way home before Belmar hit the quarter pole.

In his day at the track, the observing player should give a good deal of attention to jockeys. It can be seen that it is not a bad idea to do this. It was worth something to know the capabilities of Martin in the Brooklyn Handicap over a muddy track as well as it is to know the capabilities of a horse. Howard Mann might have won with a less resolute rider, but with Martin up, his chances for winning were vastly better, and consequently there was greater assurance of winning a much larger wager than otherwise. A good rider, a good horse, a good bet, was one of my mottoes.

A good mud rider will frequently bring a bad horse home, because the riders of the good horses are not as game as they might be. Weak boys are always handicapped on a heavy track. At such a time a horse needs help to keep him from sprawling and from wasting the energy which will be useful later. It is the same way with a horse that needs to be hard driven. A strong rider must be given the preference in such cases. I have frequently bet on an inferior horse with a strong boy up.

Many times an even money favorite has a weak boy up - a boy unable, say, to hold him together. At such a time it is a good opportunity for a strong and strenuous interview with our sworn enemies, the bookmakers. It is a good time to look for long shots, and if you are fortunate enough to be in a position to do so get a bookmaker to lay against the favorite for you. It is sure money nineteen times out of twenty.

It is different, of course, in a free running horse. There, the jockey has comparatively little to do and the disposition of the boy does not help so much. All a rider has to do is to sit still and hold his mount together.

There is one other thing that a man should take into consideration in his day in the track, and that is the disposition of the trainers. We have talked about the disposition of the horse and of the jockey, but now about the man who has to do with preparing the horse to race. Of course, you must know who the trainer is, what his connections are, learn his habits and his practices. Even that is not good enough. You must know what his methods are with reference to jockeys. It is a remarkable fact that honest horses ridden by honest boys are oftentimes beaten by honest trainers.

I mean by that, there are hundreds of occasions that trainers and owners give instructions to their riders that mean sure defeat, although the instructions are given with the best intention in the world. I have seen scores of horses beaten because their riders were told, for example, to keep up with the leaders at any cost. I have seen others choked to death because the jockeys have been instructed to lay away a length or two from the pacemakers. Such incidents are of everyday occurrence, and add another element of uncertainty to a most uncertain game at best.

One thing must never be forgotten, that a jockey of brains and understanding, while he will ride to orders as far as possible, will exercise his own judgment in case things are not turning out exactly as the owner or trainer anticipated. It is a poor owner or trainer who feels resentment when this is done by a capable boy. This is what helps to make up a high class jockey. Isaac Murphy, "Jimmy" McLaughlin, Garrison, "Skeets" Martin, "Tod" Sloan, Willie Shaw and boys of their class needed, or need, few instructions. They required to be told the disposition of the horse only, whether sluggish, a sulker, a free runner and how the whip should be used. Loading them down with further orders was like putting on more weight, for in their efforts to follow instructions they were bound to jeopardize their chances of winning.

I once heard a jockey say to a trainer who had dealt out a spasm of orders that would have filled an almanac: "Say, boss, don't you think you had better have those instructions printed in big type so I can read them as the race is being run? I could not remember what you have said to me if I sat up all night to study them, and this race is going to be over in less than two minutes." The trainer got a little angry at this and proceeded to call the boy down until the boy suggested that if he were told to do the best he could to win, the stable would have a better chance of taking down the purse. The trainer thought for a minute and peevishly remarked: "Oh, do what you like."

Then he walked away.

"Them is the best orders any rider with a good horse under him could get," commented the boy, as the line formed for the parade.

It is almost unnecessary to tell what happened in that particular race. The boy was a good boy and he used his judgment. He won in a drive by a neck and he was on the third best horse in the race at that. Had he been hampered by the instructions originally given, I do not believe that he would have finished in the money. It pays you to know the trainers, as I said before, for their habits will sometimes put you on a "good thing" at a good price.

Your day at the track, it can be seen, has been a busy day. There has been no idle moment; there has been no time for friendly conversation, good stories, refreshment at the bar or social meetings. When the last race is over, if you have speculated on two or more events, you will be as tired as if you had been engaged in manual labor for many hours. You will need rest and time for your nerves to become normal. As I stated at the outset, that rest cannot be gained by late hours or dissipation of any kind, but by a sane, temperate, normal course of living.

**

Part 2 - Chapters 3 to 5 (The Reason for Speculation, and Handicapping) can be read here.