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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

John Swetye on Cary Fotias

One of the founders of HANA, John Swetye, reflects on the life of Cary Fotias, who passed away at age 60 last weekend.

Cary stood on the shoulders of giants, but he was also a genius.

He was influenced by Ragozin and Sartin, but expanded their ideas. Like Ragozin, Cary made figures, but like Sartin, he added velocity to the mix. Cary's creation was velocity-based pace figures that were used to identify not only the fastest horses, but also horses coming into or falling out out of peak condition.

He once showed me the reams of data he used to do statistical analysis of horses shipping from track to track and dropping in class. He used the knowledge from the research to make sure the adjustments he made to the running times of the races made accurate daily variants. I doubt anyone has ever used such high level math and extensive research to design a system to make figures. I have seen, read and heard a lot about how to make speed/pace figures, but I have never known of any other figures that were made at the high level of Cary's numbers. His methods were revolutionary. His methods were also proprietary, but even if they weren't, there are very few who would be willing or able to follow in his footsteps. The task is simply too daunting for most.

Huey Mahl was a rocket scientist who liked to predict the trajectory of horses running around a track. Cary Fotias was a professional horseplayer who could have calculated the trajectory needed by a rocket to land on the moon.

He came up with so many new concepts that he had to devise names for them -- Reversal, New Pace Top, Cyclical Pace Top, Plunge Line, Turnback and my personal favorite -- Turf Decline Line, etc. I don't know of any other handicapping author who presented so many unique, even revolutionary, ideas in one book.

Noted handicapping author, James Quinn, Ph.D., summed up Cary and his book, "Blinkers Off" very nicely:
"A new voice for the new millennium belongs to Cary Fotias, and he comes in loud and clear. His contribution is both contemporary, one might even say postmodern, and significant. He uses velocity-based pace numbers and energy distribution concepts to identify horses coming to peak condition. The horses can be expected to deliver their best efforts next time, and many do.

A number and variety of figure analysts have depended upon numerical patterns to infer improving form, even peaking form, but none has succeeded, with a high degree of reliability, until now.

A new and important author and book that can enhance handicapping proficiency is always cause for celebration. This one is cause for jubilation."


Nick Mordin may have written the best description of Cary, "Cary was the loudest, funniest, smartest and nicest man I've ever known."

Cary Fotias was a wonderful man. He was never out to hurt anyone or put anyone down. He was as honest and trustworthy as anyone I have ever met. I sure am going to miss him.

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