space-age technology at the time, and I couldn’t fathom why I would ever need one of those newfangled computers my daughters were begging me to get.
Twelve years later, I can’t imagine life without one. Computers have radically changed the way many handicappers approach the game. I still remember countless nights waiting for the delivery truck to drop off the bundle of Forms at the newsstand on 79th Street and Broadway; sometimes the truck was delayed, for whatever reason, and the Forms didn’t show up until 10 o’clock—the night before the races. Nowadays, I just point, click, and print out the past performances (48 or 96 hours in advance), from the comfort of my den, usually in my bathrobe.
Those downloaded past performances have undergone an extreme makeover since Steven Crist spearheaded a deal to buy the Form in 1998. One of the key aspects of this revised edition of Expert Handicapping is a review and outline of the changes and additions that have occurred, both in print and on-line.
Along with their past performances, Thoroughbreds have also evolved (some would say devolved) to a significant extent. The way they are handled, especially stakes horses, has changed quite dramatically since this book’s initial run. A sign of the times: Shortly before these words were written, the opening-day card at Belmont’s spring meet, May 2, 2007, featured no fewer than four winners making their first start of the year, including Godolphin Stable’s Utopia, off a 14-month absence in the Grade 3 Westchester Handicap.
No horse personifies the current state of the Thoroughbred more than Badge of Silver:
PP: Badge of Silver
In five seasons of racing, the immensely talented but creakingly brittle Badge of Silver made the grand total of 16 starts—just over three per year—while forced to miss numerous stakes engagements due to a variety of injuries and infirmities that would fill veterinary textbooks. By my unofficial count, those included surgery to have screws inserted into a hairline cannon-bone fracture; surgery to remove a keratoma (a fancy word for wart) on a foot; multiple foot abscesses; and a myectomy for a displaced soft palate. In between medical emergencies, however, Badge of Silver was fast and tough as nails on the racetrack—so much so that owner Ken Ramsey transferred him to Bobby Frankel as a 4-year-old in hopes of winning a Grade 1 stakes in New York. Ramsey said at the time, “I’ve been talking to a lot of breeders, and this horse is worth a lot of money if he can win a Grade 1.”
Alas, Badge of Silver missed the 2004 running of the Grade 1 Carter Handicap due to an abscess in a front foot; and he missed the same race a year later due to an abscess in a hind foot. Frankel somehow managed to patch up the bionic horse in time to make the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Mile off a 10-month layoff, and he ran well enough to finish third, beaten for second in a photo. Three weeks later, he ran back to his very best figures in the Cigar Mile, but had the misfortune to hook Discreet Cat’s sizzling mile in 1:32.46, and settled for second.
Badge of Silver never got that elusive Grade 1 win, but still went to Airdrie Stud for the 2007 breeding season, where he stood for a $15,000 stud fee. As easy as it is to