Newsday handicapper Steve Matthews is this week's The Player's
Edge Podcast guest. The outspoken, horse racing veteran shares his thoughts on
the sport, his favorite angles, advice for beginners and more in this week's
Question and Answer.
HRR: Steve, you've been around horse racing since you
were 14-years old, tell us about your early days at the harness track.
Steve Matthews: Started going to Roosevelt Raceway
because they would let you in for free before the last race. I think it was the
9th race and that was 0nly race of night with a Triple (Trifecta).
HRR: You made the switch to thoroughbred racing when
FOREGO won a handicap at Gulfstream Park in 1974. Why was that experience so
Steve Matthews: It was the 1974 Donn Handicap, I was
just 16, and the early experiences of any new undertaking always leave a big
impression on your mind.
HRR: At 21, you became a New York City Cop in 1979.
New York in 1979 was a lot different than New York is today, what was it like
on the beat back then?
Steve Matthews: Crack cocaine had just hit the
streets. The NYPD was still fraught with much corruption.
HRR: You quit the LEO gig and started heading to the
track on a daily basis in 1980, where you say you met a lot of characters.
Which character stands out to you the most and why?
Steve Matthews: Tough to narrow it down to just one
character. One guy in particular that I met at Belmont. He had a demeanor and
intelligence that stood out from others at the track. His story: He was an ex-lawyer
that worked had worked in Washington DC and left his practice to play horses
HRR: You kept the ticket for your first $50 bet, tell
us about that race.
Steve Matthews: It was the 1978 Champagne Stakes
10/8/78 to be exact. I bet on General Assembly. He was second to Spectacular
HRR: How did you go from a horseplayer at the track
to a horseplayer at Newsday?
Steve Matthews: Started doing high school sports at
Newsday. Got friendly with horseracing guys in the office....Will tell more on
this and each subject during show.
HRR: As mentioned at the top, you've been a
horseplayer for 40-years. What is worse about the game today?
Steve Matthews: They don't promote it properly. The
powers that be are marketing it as if it is a spectator sport, which it is not.
HRR: What is better about the game today?
Steve Matthews: Obviously easier to play and watch
HRR: You mentioned that you've gone through different
phases of handicapping but have narrowed your selection methodology to two
factors, what are they and please explain why they are important.
Pace and price.....Above all, price is king. I use pace
figures over final figures because the big bettors are "Sheet" players and thus
they deflate prices on those horses. I use pace figures in different way than
most. I don't do pace "matchups"...I use pace figures as current form indicators.
HRR: From your viewpoint, what can horse racing as an
industry do to grow the sport?
Steve Matthews: Tell it like it is. Horse racing is
HRR: Are you for nationalizing horse racing through
the federal government? Why or why not.
Steve Matthews: No. It's obvious the federal govt f's
up everything they touch
HRR: Finally, if you could give new horse players
just one piece of advice, what would it be?
Be prepared for long losing streaks. Put more emphasis on
uncovering price overlays as opposed to spending too much time on "construct"
handicapping. What I mean by "construct" handicapping: Making up a story to
justify why you're playing a certain horse and then pointing blame as to why
said horse lost....Be prepared to make many losing bets and move one without
getting emotionally involved.
Follow Steve Matthews on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SteveMatthews58?lang=en
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