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Art Kaufman

Lee Tomlinson passed away last weekend. Those of us that read Daily Racing Form are familiar with the Tomlinson number that appears in the past performances next to each horse’s turf and off track records. His number was handicapping dynamite years before it appeared in DRF. Those were the days before pedigree handicapping became prevalent. He worked under the name Tomlinson but his given name was Art Kaufman. Friend and fellow handicapper Mark Cramer weighs in on the passing of a good man.

With Art Kaufman’s recent passing, the collective sadness of those who knew him is enough to move the tides. Art had to use the name Tomlinson because his mutual fund colleagues frowned on his interest in horse racing, though in today’s economy, the Tomlinson ratings are performing better than the stock market.

I used his Tomlinson ratings religiously and one day was moved to phone him to thank him for the best handicapping tool I had ever used. During that period in the early and mid-1990s, before the Tomlinson ratings were published by the DRF and before trainers used the ratings for spotting their horses, this was my automatic bet, my source for signers, and my way of zooming in on one single automatic method.

We got to know each other well and I learned the definition of generosity and warmth. I accompanied Art on his Euro racing tours, which seemed like a business from the outside but was a mere labor of love for Art. I knew this because whenever Art had to make a decision between potential profit for the business or comfort and pleasure for his customers, he chose that latter. He won by breaking even.

Art brought happiness to anyone near him, including my elderly and frail Aunt Ada, whose heart he warmed with his optimism. Ada was already in her late 80s at the time, and every time she pronounced the word “Arthur” it probably added a few days to her life. That’s because he made all of us feel like truly important people.

For one Breeders’ Cup at the Albany OTB, Art noticed that I could not interest my then 14-year son in accompanying us. So Art handed him a racing form and said, “If you are willing to study this, I’ll give you $2 to bet for each race … but only if you study!” My son decided to come along with us, read the form carefully after some instruction from Art, and collected on Reraise in the Sprint.

But when the day was over, my son realized that playing the horses for real required an extraordinary amount of study and persistence, and he decided that it was too big a task for him. But thanks to Art my son had learned to hold great respect for the avocation of his old man.
Our condolences go out to his wife Jackie and the rest of the family, and also to the magnificent people who knew and admired him.