Mr. Beyer left Harvard to study the Daily Racing Form, write a Washington column on the sport (obsession? -- he claims it's not an addiction), and get into the action himself and for a long time he lost at the ""toughest game in the world."" Here he gives you the benefits of what he's learned about handicapping (not just from books but from talking to all kinds of habitues) and what pays off best: whether it's the appearance of the horse (you can tell by the swish of a tail if he's going to be in there), or the kind of track, or his patterns, or the methodology of his trainers, or ""speed figures"" (statistics) in which Beyer believes with ""religious devotion."" It's all there and more -- including the fact that both liquor and women have deleterious effects on your own track record. Furlongs of advice and analysis, parlayed into entertaining reading even if you never indulge.