Q and A with Newsday's Steve Matthews

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Rich Bieglmeier is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Thursday, September 23, 2021

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 impactful?

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 professionally.

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 Bid.

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 from anywhere

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 gambling

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.

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