BETTING ON MYSELF: Adventures of a Horseplayer and Publisher

Stephen Crist's memoir Betting on Myself is a testament to his willingness to pursue his passion for horse racing at all costs.  His steadfast commitment to find ways to share the most accurate racing information with the public as well as  to find ways to help the horse player by having tracks offer more exotic wagers and take a smaller percentage of the takeout on certain bets remain consistent as he moves from job to job.

Betting on Myself begins with Crist's obsession with the Baseball dice game Strat-O-Matic to his studying the metaphysical poets at Harvard College.    Yet, a chance trip with a college  friend leads his falling in love with greyhound racing at Wonderland.  His obsession with reading the past performances of Wonderland's dog racing program transports him back to his childhood love of Strat-O-Matic, and the greyhound racing overwhelms all of his thoughts. He tells his advisor that he does not want to write about the Metaphysical poets influence on Jon Donne, but he wants to write about dog racing.

Eventually, he moves back to New York City and away from New England's access to dog racing, so he turns his interest to horse racing. His adventures as a horse player and his desire to find a job that allows him to pursue horse racing leads him to a job as a copy editor working nights (keeping his days free to bet on horse racing) at the New York Times.  Eventually, Crist becomes a sports writer for the New York Times.

Throughout his life it as a writer, horse player, or a publisher, Crist makes it clear that he would choose his passion for racing over education and potential higher paying jobs. As he moves from copy editor to sports writer, Crist chooses to primarily write about horse racing and only begrudgingly writes  about other sports when required to do so. He is steadfast in pursuit of his passion.  In the beginning, Crist offers to pay for his travel to cover important horse racing events, but he later convinces The Times to pay for him to winter in Florida with the New York horses, trainers, and jockey colony as well as for him to stay up-state for the four week Saratoga racing season.

With the support of a wealthy British Financier, Crist decides to challenge The Daily Racing Form by starting a rival publication called The Racing Times. This adventure eventually fails because of the supporters failing finances leaving Crist without a job.  At this point, he returns to playing the Pick 6 on the NYRA circuit while charting out his speed figures in the Belmont Turf Club.

Eventually, a mutual horse racing legislator nominates Crist as a consultant to share his input on legislative committees under NY  Governor Mario Cuomo. True to his word, he represents the horse player in the bureaucratic mess of the legislative committees with a focus on three items:  Withholding taxes, breakage and takeout.

Later Crist serves a VP at NYRA  where he has to be a team player as he and NYRA President, Kenny Noe, work to clean up the New York Racing Association to make it more profitable.  After he is essentially asked to leave NYRA, Crist returns to playing his PICK 6 tickets when he learns that The Daily Racing Form is for sale. The frantic and on-going search for financial supporters to help Crist and his partner buy The Form moves away from horse racing and into investing, and eventually when all hope seems lost, Crist's group outbids the only other group to gain control of The Daily Racing Form.

Crist's memoir Betting on Myself serves as a reminder to not let your job stand in the way of your passion.  Throughout his life, Crist always makes horse racing his top priority even as he finishes his memoir:, "As I finish this manuscript, an invitation arrived in the mail for the 35th reunion of the  Harvard Class of 1978.Unfortunately, the university did not consult the racing calendar before scheduling the festivities on the same day as the 2003 Belmont Stakes.  Since it eventually worked out pretty well the first time around, I think I will be choosing the racetrack over academia again."

The memoir only hints at Crust's formula for picking winning horses, but it is an interesting story of a person committed to finding a way to make a living writing and betting on horses.  Crist's narrative moves you quickly through his ups and downs of his life and provides a review of the main players in the horse racing industry from the racing and handicapping sides over the last 40 years.