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Horseplayers: Life at the Track Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Ted McLelland devotes a whole chapter of this book to a friend of mine. Cool.
The obsessive reader of books on horseplaying (which is a very small group of people; in fact, it may well only contain me) needs to take a break from handicapping tomes and huge books of mathematical formulae every once in a while and read something about the equine and human sides of the sport. The former is less sparsely populated with truly great material, though Jane Schwartz' Ruffian: Burning from the Start, which is finally back in print on a steady basis, certainly fits the bill. The human side has been covered somewhat better, from the academic (John Rosencrance's thoroughly engrossing and entertaining The Degenerates of Lake Tahoe) to the poetic (Bill Barich's masterpiece Laughing in the Hills). Horseplayers: Life at the Track is a fine addition to the literature of the human side of horse racing.
McLelland's book, actually, reads kind of like Rosencrance's, but with a plot and human names (or, in many cases, nicknames) plastered on the characters. You will meet the down-and-out, the desperate, the obsessed, the obsessive, the compulsive, the bum, the mathematician, and others. In fact, you'll meet pretty much every type of social outcast there is. (There's even a religious fanatic, though certainly the most likable one I've come across in print recently.) The one thing you'll lack is a truly well-rounded normal person, but then, the track doesn't seem to attract too many of them. Assuming they even exist. (We all have our faults, yes?) Even if you're not a big reader of nonfiction, if you like your books full of quirky characters, believe me, you're going to get a kick out of this book. And you may even pick up some tips on how to operate at your local track. (Here's a starter: stooping is not a good idea.)
I can attest that you don't have to be a horse racing aficionado to enjoy Horseplayers, you just have to appreciate excellent writing. McClelland has a reporter's eye for detail, a novelist's skill with metaphor and character development, and a humorist's wit and sense of timing. He also throws in historical tidbits and wonderful literary references for good measure. It is a truly great read.
What a pleasant surprise! This book paralleled my life in many odd coincidences, and that added to the fun, but even if you didn’t grow up near one of Chicago’s racetracks there is great material here of interest to any horse fan. The author, Ted McClelland includes tales of road trips to other tracks large and small, as well as a lot of material about off track betting at America’s great racetracks.
Ted somehow finagles his editor to give him a one year stake for betting the horses under the premise that he will write a book about his experience. This book is the account of that year and Ted’s attempt to come up with a successful system for handicapping. In the process Ted meets a blind man who handicaps with a numbering system that would confuse Fermat, an ex- Nun who successfully handicaps through her perception of the horses’ willingness to improve, a former college professor who develops a system that leads to paying off the mortgage (and confounding his father-in-law) and a whole cast of characters who live (or try to live) at the track.
The book is full of information on horse racing and gambling but it’s the personal descriptions of the people he encounters that really make the book worth reading. Ted is a gifted writer and he captures and relates the true stories of these people with humor and dignity. Since finishing this book I’ve found some of Ted’s articles and have found them equally well written and I will definitely be buying his other two books.
A good book by a good author.
It's a phenomenal portrait of life at the track with the weekday regulars--the guys in ratty clothing with ever-present ciagarettes or cigars who you know are there every day. The characters are rich and captured beautifully in a book that is at times funny, at times sad, always poignant and best of all, dead on the mmoney.
This is not a book solely for people who like horse racing or go to the track. I'm not a big horse racing fan, but found McClelland's vivid portrayal of life at the track a compelling read, and left me wanting more. In fact, shortly after finishing Horseplayers I read Seabiscuit, and I enjoyed Horseplayers much more.
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I started out with a book & a steak.
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