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By HorseplayerNOW.com Night School host Joe Kristufek

A person’s first visit to the racetrack can be an overwhelming experience.

Where do I go?

What do I do?

What does the information in this book mean?

How do I make a bet?

Night School, the racing industry's national online fan education program, presents its final Newbie Tuesdays lesson of the 2012 season tonight when horse racing author Jean Chodkowski joins the interactive session, whose theme this week will be "Having Fun at the Track." Newbie Tuesdays are offered the first Tuesday of each month and are geared toward the entry-level racing fan. This week's lesson will be the 35th of 40 offered on the Night School season, which runs through early November.

Chodkowski's recent release is titled, "The Anatomy Of Horse Racing Handicapping Or How To Have Fun At The Races," and gives newcomers a guide to their initial racetrack experiences. Her website www.fun-at-the-track.com provides more information. The 90-minute Newbie Tuesdays lesson begins at 8:30 p.m. ET and will be hosted by the Horse Player NOW trio of Joe Kristufek, Jeremy Plonk and Caton Bredar.

Set a reminder and join FREE horse racing Night School fan education here.

For many of us, playing the races is a form of entertainment.

We go to the track with friends and/or family, pick up a program, pick out a horse or two, and make our wagers.

Others look at a day of racing through entirely different eyes. The mission of the horseplayer is to piece together mental puzzles and seek out opportunities to make a financial score.

Regardless of how serious you take your horse play, the name of the game is having fun. On any given day, the guy or gal that handicaps the races for 30 seconds can outperform the serious handicapper, but in the long run having a good approach breeds consistency.

If you are a newcomer to the racing game, here is some basic advice that can help make your day more enjoyable.

  • Bring cash to the track. Contrary to the belief of some newbies, you can’t bet with a credit or debit card. ATM lines are often long, and the machines often run out of money. You want to avoid them at all costs.
  • If possible, enjoy one of your early racetrack experiences with a friend or family member who knows the game. The ability to ask questions during the course of the races greatly accelerates the learning process.
  • Get to the track early. Buy a track program, which is your guide for the day. Read the front pages to get a handle on the terminology and how to bet. Get a feel for the facility and seating options. Learn your way around. Find a home base that’s comfortable for you with access to the elements you enjoy most. Visit the paddock. Watch a race down by the rail. Remember, there are many ways to enjoy a day at the track, from very serious, to very social. If you want to play the races, find somewhere quiet with a clear view of TV’s and easy access to betting windows. If you’re in it for a more casual experience, many tracks offer picnic areas, and some even have live bands on the weekends.
  • Arm yourself with OPPS (other people’s picks). Most major newspapers, track websites and the Daily Racing Form all offer “expert” selections. The fun of the game is having an opinion, but when you’re first getting started, don’t be afraid to use the picks of others, or perhaps combine them with your own.
  • Pay attention the to the racetrack’s on-track television analyst. This person is often dialed in to the circuit, and offers good information. In addition, listening to what they have to say about the horses, and following along in your track program, can help accelerate the learning process.
  • Ease your way into wagering. Start with Win, Place and Show bets. Play $2-$6 per race, and get your feet wet. Graduate to high-risk /high-reward wagers, and an increase in spending if your budget allows, once you've had success with basic bets & feel comfortable. Once you feel at ease with the wagering process, bet to your personality. If you are conservative by nature, stick to lower risk bets and lower amounts. If you are a thrill-seeker, open up your wagers to Trifectas, Superfectas, Pick Threes and Pick Fours.
  • Learn how to use the self service wagering machines. Have someone show you the progression the first time, and you should never again need help. Not every machine takes cash, but they all accept winning tickets and credit vouchers. It’s easy once you done it once. If you have credit left after wagering, don’t forget to end your session and take your remaining voucher. Continue to combine your winnings, and cash out with a live teller at the end of the day.

Stage two of “Having Fun at the Track” includes more intricate angles for the horse player. If you’re interested in those, access the “Approaching the Day at the Races” session of Night School under the “Completed Events” tab of the chat console.

Presenting title sponsors for Night School are the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, American Quarter Horse Association, Keeneland, Churchill Downs, Inc. and Daily Racing Form.

This week's Night School will be followed by another "After Night School Special," featuring live racing from Mountaineer Park, beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET. The segment will cover the evening's final race in real time with free, live-streaming video and complimentary Daily Racing Form past performances.

The Night School lessons this week also continue Thursday with a Keeneland 2012 Fall Meet Preview, hosted by Jeremy Plonk, beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Keeneland preview will include a look at stats and trends for the upcoming season in Lexington as well as specific handicapping pointers on Friday’s opening day card.

Also note that the Night School Tour traveling troupe of fan educators will be conducting live seminars at both Keeneland and Laurel Park this weekend. Meet Joe Kristufek, Katie Mikolay, Tim Brannan, Brian Spencer and Brandi Goode at Keeneland this Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout FallStars Weekend. They will be working the Racing 101 Tent for America's Best Racing. Meanwhile, the Night School Tour duo of Jeremy Plonk and Brian Nadeau provide on-site fan education at Laurel Park for Saturday's Maryland Million program.

This week's Night School preview video Joe Kristufek and Jeremy Plonk: 

This week's study materials, courtesy of Horse Player NOW and Daily Racing Form, are here.

Image Description

Joe Kristufek

The face of ABR's "Racing 101", Joe Kristufek is a self-proclaimed horse racing "ambassador," and fan development has been his passion since the moment he took his first job in the industry.

Beginning in spring of 2014, Kristufek will serve as the paddock host and as a fan development specialist for Churchill Downs.

Kristufek is the morning-line maker for Arlington Park and Kentucky Downs and he serves as the handicapper and racing writer for the Daily Herald newspaper. 

Kristufek has developed and executed several horse racing-related, fan-education projects both online and onsite and he is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters. 

He has co-owned five horses in partnership and is the process of developing an ownership group of his own. Kristufek is also becoming an increasing presence on the tournament scene. 

Kristufek was the on-air talent for Hawthorne's between-race presentation and replay shows in the 1990s, and served as a on-air host and content coordinator for The Racing Network in 2000-2001. He was the owner, producer and host of popular horse racing magazine show Horsin' Around TV, airing 85 episodes from 2003-2005 on Fox Sports Chicago and Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

A beer and indie/alternative music snob, Joe is a Chicago Bulls season ticket holder and there aren't too many people who can keep up with him on a billards table. 

 

Image Description

Joe Kristufek

The face of ABR's "Racing 101", Joe Kristufek is a self-proclaimed horse racing "ambassador," and fan development has been his passion since the moment he took his first job in the industry.

Beginning in spring of 2014, Kristufek will serve as the paddock host and as a fan development specialist for Churchill Downs.

Kristufek is the morning-line maker for Arlington Park and Kentucky Downs and he serves as the handicapper and racing writer for the Daily Herald newspaper. 

Kristufek has developed and executed several horse racing-related, fan-education projects both online and onsite and he is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters. 

He has co-owned five horses in partnership and is the process of developing an ownership group of his own. Kristufek is also becoming an increasing presence on the tournament scene. 

Kristufek was the on-air talent for Hawthorne's between-race presentation and replay shows in the 1990s, and served as a on-air host and content coordinator for The Racing Network in 2000-2001. He was the owner, producer and host of popular horse racing magazine show Horsin' Around TV, airing 85 episodes from 2003-2005 on Fox Sports Chicago and Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

A beer and indie/alternative music snob, Joe is a Chicago Bulls season ticket holder and there aren't too many people who can keep up with him on a billards table. 

 

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