Worth quoting in full, these paragraphs from chapter 9 of ‘Recreational Handicapping’ again ring true to my own experience:
An aspect of the racetrack experience that chimes loudly with peoples’ ringing approval is the individual freedom it condones.
To be one’s own master, free to pursue ideas, free to implement personal methods, free to indulge tastes, free to make choices, free to take risks, even free to commit mistakes, serves as an almost hallucinating antidote to the broadly conformist and restrictive world at large.
If the practice of handicapping qualifies as a greatly individual endeavour – and it does – the habits of recreational betting constitute intensely personal and intimate acts. The racetrack bet, in fact, arouses the individual’s innate sense of privacy, a territory marked private property, which others should not dare to invade.
The fact is that one invests a lot of oneself in betting. The form reading requires concentration, a clear head, self-control to avoid preconceived notions and continually vigilance to spot familiar patterns and avoid traps. A well balanced odds line is the result of craftmanship – it encapsulates a complex situation and resonates with an impending reality. Like the race itself, it can be a thing of beauty, something handcrafted and unique.