|There are plenty of sports and racing information sites on the net – but the old practice of “insider” tipsters still thrives online.|
DelMarDon.com, for example, claims 30 years of handicapping experience, offering tips for a variety of races at different tracks, for $25 a month.
Likewise, HandicappersEdge.com provides full daily cards for four racing venues, including Del Mar, for the same fee. 'We work hard so you don't have to,' the Alberta, Canada-based service informs gamblers at its Web site.
At least 400 Internet sites now provide systems and tips for keen punters. They range from online versions of racing journals such as the Daily Racing Form and Today's Racing Digest, to email newsletters.
'Deuce Bruce' Andrews, who for a long time sold his 2 sided print tip sheet in a booth at Del Mar for $3, now runs a web site where members pay $20 a month to access his daily Gold Card.
However, the tips may not always be worth the subscription – online, as it is with the printed version. Some racing industry executives say some Internet handicapping sites are simply cut and pasted tips and advice from other publications – or simply made up.
Most online handicappers are unregulated, unlike tipsheet publishers who sell their fliers at the track.
The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, for example, requires handicappers to sign contracts and file their cards every day with track officials. They also must register with the state Horse Racing Board.
'There are a lot of shaky guys out there' on the Internet, said David Bernsen, CEO of San Diego-based LetItRide.com, which operates a handicapping Web site known as TrackExperts.com.
The service is one of the most successful online tipsheets, with about 8,000 clients paying $12 or more a day for cards from Del Mar, California Fairs, Arlington and Saratoga, in addition to coverage of Australian and European venues.
Bernsen says the key to keeping subscribers happy is not necessarily picking a lot of winners, but picking the winners that pay big.
'You can have a lot lower batting average that way, but theoretically drive in more runs,' said Bernsen, adding that loyalists account for a majority of his customers.
Most online handicapping services maintain archives so punters can see which tipsheet is in form. Some also offer free daily picks and one or two days' worth of complimentary cards.