Author Tom Ainslie dead at age 89

Richard Carter, the handicapping author and journalist who wrote about Thoroughbred racing under the pen name Tom Ainslie, died on Sept 1. in New City, N.Y., at the age of 89.

Carter was an award-winning journalist and author who turned his attention to Thoroughbred racing in the 1960s and became one of the most well-known handicapping authors of all time. A lifelong racing fan, Carter's best known handicapping book was published in 1968 and called "Ainslie's Complete Guide to Thoroughbred Racing."

Though the books did not break ground or introduce revolutionary ways of handicapping, Ainslie's work was the first to treat the process of picking winners in an analytical way. In a preface to the "Complete Guide," Ainslie said he wrote the book because no authors had ever treated the subject seriously.

Andy Beyer, whose 1975 book "Picking Winners" is the best-selling handicapping book of all time, said that "literature on handicapping can be divided into two eras: before Tom Ainslie, and after Tom Ainslie.

"Before him, there was a widespread assumption that the only thing a horseplayer would want to read was a pamphlet with some quickie system in it," Beyer said on Saturday. "He was the first person to really write literately and intelligently about handicapping, and he showed the publishing world that there was a market for thoughtful books on the subject."

Beyer added that without Ainslie's work, his books, along with handicappers like Steve Davidowitz and Jim Quinn, would probably not have found publishers.

Carter was a New York native who graduated from City College. While working as a reporter for the New York Compass, Carter won a 1951 George Polk Award for a series of articles on racketeering on the city's waterfront. He also wrote a biography of Jonas Salk, the late physician who developed the polio vaccine, and collaborated with Curt Flood, the major league baseball player, on his memoir in 1971. Flood was best known for successfully challenging baseball's reserve clause and opening the way to free agency.

In addition to his first book, Ainslie's horseracing books included "Ainslie's Complete Guide to Harness Racing," "Ainslie's Encyclopedia of Thoroughbred Handicapping," "The Compleat Horseplayer," and "The Body Language of Horses," written in collaboration with Bonnie Ledbetter. He often wrote columns for the Daily Racing Form and The Racing Times.

Carter's wife, Gladys, died in 1996. He is survived by his son, John Carter, a daughter, Nancy Carter, and three grandchildren.