In last month's September PPM, we began the story of the successful betting exploits of the US professional Tim Haley, as related by American expert Barry Meadow. This is the second part of Barry's in-depth interview with this remarkable punter.

When he's handicapping two tracks, Haley spends about 90 minutes on the night before the races on one, and handicaps as he goes on the other, using the 15 minutes between the finish of a race at one track and the start of the next one at the other to do his work.

His work is probably less complex than what many less successful handicappers do. Except for trainer switches, he rarely looks much at trainers' supposed specialties. He doesn't care about horses for courses, he doesn't maintain a horses-to-watch list.

He has no interest in velocity numbers, horse win percentages, trouble notes, jockey tendencies, workout reports, pedigree ratings, or much of what passes for modernday handicapping.

"Mostly I'm about pace and bias, knowing the horses," he says. "I watch the races live, and the replay right after the race. I've studied the form, so I feel I know these horses.

"But I don't want to do a million things. Some guys have so much information they don't know what to look at. I want to do a few things but do them at a high level."

The first thing he does when he gets the form (Daily Racing Form) is to look at the probable pace of the race.

"I try to figure if it's going to be fast or slow, and who's going to be where," he says. "I first figure out if the pace is likely to benefit a frontrunner or a closer. I like races where there's either a whole lot of speed, or where there's no speed. Then after I've done that, I try to analyse which horses are the best ones. I'm simply trying to fit the pieces together."

He looks at the Beyer (speed) figures, but with a practised sceptic's eye. "If I think a rating is too high for a horse, for instance, I'll look up the race and see what the other in-the-money horses usually run," he says.

"I try to get a sense of what a horse can typically do, not just look at some high figure he ran last race when he got away with a slow pace.

"I study the running lines and assume that most horses will do what they usually do. Did the pace hurt him or help him last time?"

Haley uses what he calls an average pace figure for each distance at each track to determine this. His main ability he says, is figuring out how good each horse is.

He reckons it's easy to be swayed by things we see. Take, for instance, the horse that begins slowly.

"Right at the start, all the horses are close together so a slow start might cost the horse only a length," he explains. "At the end of the race, you've got horses strung out all across the track so that one length may not mean very much.

"And sometimes the horse races better because he's off slow so the jockey relaxes the horse and maybe he avoids a speed duel. I don't care that much about ground loss, either. I'll notice if a horse had a bad trip, but just because a horse was wide at some part of the race doesn't mean he would have done any better if he saved ground.

"Remember that I'm not computing exact numbers, just getting a general sense about a horse's ability.

"I'm more interested in not the obvious trouble, but in situations like when a horse does better when he's rated, and the jockey decides to send him; the horse doesn't run his best race and the running line looks bad, but to me the race is a throw-out because the horse was uncomfortable, and uncomfortable horses don't run their best."

Haley says that some punters are statistics junkies who get way too involved with their numbers. And he isn't finished with what he believes are the misconceptions of many bettors.

"Why do people assume a horse loves a certain track just because he won there, or hate it because he lost there?" he says. "Maybe he won at Keeneland last year because he was feeling good at that time, and his form wasn't as good at Churchill because he was facing better horses and had just been sick?

"If a horse is 1 from 5 at a track, how can you tell if that means anything? Who did he beat? Does he consistently run better ratings at one track or another, or not?"

What about win percentages? Are some horses simply hangers, like the maiden with four 2nds and six 3rds?

Haley says: "Usually, speed types have a lot of wins and not so many 2nds and 3rds, while closers are more likely to get there too late and have to settle for a piece.

"So when you find a maiden with a lot of 2nds and 3rds, just look at his running style. That explains things a lot more than any supposed 'hang' the horse might have."

In fact, when Haley keys one horse in a race (a banker), which he says he does maybe 30 to 40 per cent of the time, he'll generally key a speed horse only for 1st and 2nd ' while he will often key a closer for 2nd and 3rd, or in a superfecta for 4th.

"You can't get locked into one way of doing anything," he says. "I'm always looking for horses who I think have a better percentage chance of doing something than their odds would indicate.

"When I find them, I try to structure a creative bet to take advantage of this. I'm not necessarily looking for the winner, which is what most people do. I'm just trying to get a feel for the race, but I don't know exactly what I'm going to do until the last minute because everything depends on the odds."

Haley rarely talks with other punters, and prefers it that way. He says he has his own opinion, so why should he worry about anyone else's?

Besides, it's much easier to concentrate when you're alone in a room with no distractions. No-one to follow you to the window, or ask who do you like, or maybe try to borrow some money.

Even though he's lived there for months, Haley's hotel room resembles the bachelor pad of a horseplayer who's on a two-week gambling bender.

Clothes are piled in a closet, a suitcase lies on the floor. Everywhere are strewn Daily Racing Forms, Simulcast Weeklies, and Haley's own stat sheets. The TV monitors constantly show horse races, and the room's one computer is glued to the Internet toteboard.

Things unlikely to be discussed in such a room? Anything not involving racing.

Okay, it's a bit of a one dimensional life, but so what? Haley is content. He still enjoys his work, and he's very, very good at it.

He says: "I'm basically a little bit better than most people at figuring how things are going to happen. I just get a better read on the races. Some people just aren't looking at the right things."

Haley admits he does get a little wild with his wagers, sometimes betting a few thousand dollars too many at some of the medium-sized tracks he plays.

"I bet too many races, and too many combinations," he says. "if rebates went away, I'd have to tighten up my game."

He says he was a tad more careful when he was playing for the rent money. Now, if he blows $200,000 or so on a bad bet (which he has done) he can shrug it off.

Asked his advice for those who'd like to do what he does, Haley says this: "I think to make it doing this, you have to be a gambler in the first place. A lot of guys are very studious but they're not really gamblers. Unless you have the nerve to bet real money, and a lot of it, it's just like you're studying golf from behind a rope, which is a lot different from trying to sink a putt for $100,000.

"Being a good handicapper is not the same as being a successful player. What can a typical player do to improve his betting? Study and try to pick up things, and don't listen to anybody."

Haley never made much money as a salaried employee, and his family doesn't own any oil wells. All the cash he's accumulated, and it's considerable, has come from having just a bit better opinion than most people about how to win at the races.

Barry Meadow is regarded as one of America's leading writers on horse-racing and gambling. This article is extracted from his popular Meadow's Racing Monthly, a newsletter devoted to all aspects of betting on horseracing.

Information on Barry's newsletter and his best-selling books can be obtained from his website at:, or from TR Publishing, 4227 High Grove Rd, Templeton, CA 93465, USA.

Click here to read Part 1.

By Barry Meadow