This fun and witty exposé of horse racing in America goes behind the scenes at the track, providing a serious gambler’s-eye view of the action. Ted McClelland spent a year at tracks and off-track betting facilities in Chicago and across the country, profiling the people who make a career of gambling on horses. This account follows his personal journey of what it means to be a player as he gambles with his book advance using various betting and handicapping strategies along the way. A colorful cast of characters is introduced, including the intensely disciplined Scott McMannis, “The Professor,” a onetime college instructor who now teaches a course in handicapping, and Mary Schoenfeldt, a former nun and gifted handicapper who donates all of her winnings to charity. This moving account of wins, losses, and personal turmoil provides a sobering look at gamblers, gambling, and life at the track.


“Immensely readable account, by a brutally honest writer…a gambler’s book that is well worth a punt”

The Racing Post

“A delightful memoir . . . McClelland details his transformation from casual fan to obsessed racing geek with humor.”


“Everything a horse-racing book should be.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Brilliantly captures the pace of track life.”

Chicago Sun-Times

“Thrilling gallop through the world of horse racing and gambling.”

The Economist

“Will best be appreciated for its humor and insight even by those who have had little experience at the racetrack.”

Library Journal

“Tells it pretty much like it is, and might even persuade other casual handicappers to play like a pro for one exciting year of their lives. Two thumbs up!”

James Quinn, author, The Best of Thoroughbred Handicapping and The Handicapper’s Condition Book