The Program: Betting with the Best

The Program: Betting with the Best

Melissa Bauer-Herzog

One of the most popular parts of racing, gambling takes place at tracks around the country in every race every day. But as many handicappers know, making a winning bet isn’t always easy as it looks on paper.

So for those who want to improve their handicapping game, Equestricon has a range of panels, seminars and workshops for everyone, from beginners to the pros. One of the first events on the Equestricon 2017 calendar is a Handicapping Workshop, presented by Capital OTB, on Sunday (Aug. 13) from 9:30 a.m to 11:30 a.m. The star-studded event will be hosted by Gulfstream Park host and analyst Acacia Courtney. The workshop will also feature 2015 NHC Tour winner Jonathan Kinchen, Daily Racing Form’s Matt Bernier, 2012 National Handicapping Championship winner Michael Beychok, Horse Racing Radio Network's Anthony Stabile and Capital OTB's Brian Nadeau. The handicappers will utilize the two-hour session to show off their successful approaches to betting the races and they'll also take questions from the audience. 

workshop faces

“People taking part in the handicapping workshop should enter with an open mind; there are numerous ways to handicap a horse race, and attendees are sure to hear about many of them,” Bernier said. “That's the beauty of the handicapping game - there's no right or wrong way to handicap a race. Fans and handicappers attending will hopefully see how we handicap the way we do, as well as why we prefer certain styles as opposed to others.”

Equestricon™ co-creator Dan Tordjman joins Matt Bernier on  The Matt Bernier Show .  Source:

Equestricon™ co-creator Dan Tordjman joins Matt Bernier on The Matt Bernier Show. Source:

For those successful gamblers who are wondering if the panel is worth attending, Bernier says it may help them find even more ways to predict winners of all kinds of races. With multiple handicappers on the panel who each look for different information on horses and approach each bet differently there is a lot of information be gained during the two hours.

“The moment someone believes they've learned all there is to learn is the moment that individual gets passed by; attending this panel will hopefully shed some light on specific areas that players may not currently be integrating into their day-to-day play,” he said.

For those who can’t make it to this panel but want to hone their handicapping skills, there are several other handicapping-related panels and seminars, each with its own unique focus, during the three days of Equestricon. If you've ever wanted to hear what it's like to make a six-figure or even seven-figure score at the track, stop by the Stories: Big Scores on Big Days panel taking place on Monday. Thinking of playing the low-roller handicapping tournament at Saratoga Monday afternoon? Check out the Tournament Handicapping Workshop with some of the best tournament players in the country before you head over.

On Tuesday, learn some new betting angles from several of the sport's top female handicappers including the likes of Gulfstream Park analyst Gabby Gaudet and $100,000 online tournament winner Barbara Bowley in Seminar: Women's Handicapping. For the more advanced handicapper, stop by Seminar: Advanced Handicapping Tools and Products to learn about some cutting edge analytical products and other services made to take your game to the next level. Featured products and participants include DRF Formulator, OptixEQ, Betmix and BrunowiththeWorks.

Equestricon will also feature a Horseplayers' Forum, an open discussion on issues affecting everyone who plays the races, presented by The Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA). Equestricon Advisory Board member and HANA co-founder Theresia Muller will participate in the forum and in additional programming throughout the convention. 

A full schedule, including all the handicapping events during Equestricon can be seen here.

In addition to being involved in multiple panels, Bernier is also a member of Equestricon’s Advisory Board. The Daily Racing Form analyst and host believes Equestricon is an important way to grow the sport by allowing fans access to the sport's insiders and allowing insiders to hear fans’ thoughts on the sport.

“Horse racing is an industry that's difficult for fans to access on a personal level,” he said. “Having people in the industry come together to reach out and communicate with the fans is critical to the long-term health of the game; that's what makes Equestricon so important. I'm taking part in Equestricon to help bridge the gap between racing personalities and fans; at the end of the day we're all fans of Thoroughbred racing. Whether you're a handicapper or an enthusiast, it's important for us to make sure fans are entertained, interested and educated. Hopefully I can help in those areas as both a panelist and board member.”

If you’re still not sure if Equestricon is something you should attend, even after seeing the schedule of panels, Bernier has some final advice for both handicappers and others interested in the sport.

“Equestricon is positioning itself to be one of the critical events of the horse racing calendar. The amount of knowledge, experience and enthusiasm that is sure to be present will be unparalleled. If you're not attending Equestricon, you're doing yourself a great disservice - whether you're a player or a fan.”