Utilizing Your iPad as a Handicapping Tool

The Life

Equibase iPPs, an iPad and a Bluetooth keyboard and you are all set for a day of handicapping the races.

I’m a big fan of the iPad. I’ve even started using it as a laptop replacement, choosing to take my iPad and a Bluetooth keyboard with me in my backpack everyday and leave the laptop at home on the desk.

The iPad can increasingly do all the things I need from my laptop, plus a few things the laptop can’t, plus it’s lighter and more convenient to tote around.

One place I’ve really found that the iPad comes in handy is at the racetrack. I know that a lot of serious handicappers bring their laptops to the track and use them to access things like Daily Racing Form Formulator Past Performances and use Excel spreadsheets to chart out their bets for the day. I’ve never been that kind of handicapper. I’ve always been fine with a rolled up Daily Racing Form, a pen and a small notebook. I think the iPad can be a better option for both types of handicappers, though.

For the serious player, you can still access spreadsheets if you use the iPad’s Google Drive app and use Google Spreadsheets. They have all the functionality of Excel plus they have the added benefit of being in the cloud and easily shared and accessed across devices.

For Formulator Past Performances, you’re out of luck. The iPad doesn’t support Flash, and the DRF site uses Flash for Formulator. You could use a desktop mirroring app like GoToMyPC and open up Formulator on your home computer, though.

If you can stand parting with the functionality of Formulator, then there are several options for how you can use Past Performances on your iPad. If you like Equibase PPs, there’s an app for that. Equibase iPPs is a very simple iPad app that allows you to purchase and dowload PPs right in the app and then mark them up. It offers basic and Trackmaster Platinum versions. The Platinum versions have more data and have some basic handicapping notes in the PPs.

For those who prefer DRF Past Performances, your best option is to download the PDFs from the website and open them on the iPad with a PDF reader that allows you to mark them up.

If you are a fan of the show “Horseplayers” on Esquire TV (and why wouldn’t you be?), you’ve probably seen handicapper Matt Bernier using his iPad at the track. I asked him about his preferred apps and he said “the app that’s the most integral for my handicapping” is GoodReader. GoodReader is the most popular document reader for the iPad.

“I'll download the PDF version of the Racing Form and open it in GoodReader,” Bernier said. “From there, I'll highlight, circle and just generally mark up all the things that I find necessary for my personal handicapping style.”

I personally prefer PDF Cabinet over Goodreader. It’s a little more expensive, but it allows you to mark up the past performances with your finger much easier and intuitively than Goodreader does. (If you use a Stylus, however, the difference is probably nil.)

Goodreader PDF Cabinet

There’s more to a day at the races than just marking up the Past Performances, though!

For checking on “entries, results, changes and schedules for all the tracks around the country,” Bernier uses the Equibase Today’s Racing app. It’s like having an up-to-the-minute program for every track in the country. There is no iPad version of this app, it’s designed for use with the iPhone and Android phones. You can run the iPhone version on your iPad, though, and expand it to fit the screen, and it will look just fine.

For making your bets, the app I am the most fond of is the DRF TicketMaker app. Designed for helping you put together multi-race bets using Steven Crist’s ranking system (A,B,C), the TicketMaker app will work for Pick 3, Pick 4, and Pick 6 wagers.

Today's Racing App DRF TicketMaker

It not only helps you build out your ticket with a user-friendly interface, it then lets you play with your bet size and how you weigh the amount bet on each type of ticket so you can get the bet down under budget. Best of all it will then show you a “readout” screen that you can simply read to the teller at the window.

The TicketMaker app is another iPhone-only app that you have to run on the iPad in 2x size. It’s also a bit buggy, and has had trouble for me in the past with the bet amounts. But the readouts have never been wrong, which is what’s most important.

So, next time you head to the races, try leaving the laptop or the newsprint at home and just showing up with your tablet under your arm. You can still read America’s Best Racing, and  you’ll save yourself the black smudges on your fingertips.

Do you like to use your iPad at the track? What apps do you recommend? 



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