Greyhound Handicapping: Are You Looking At the Wrong Numbers?

Profile Picture: Eb Netr

Eb Netr

June 13th, 2013

When most people handicap a greyhound race, their eyes automatically go to the dogs that have recent wins or in- the-money finishes. I'm no different from most people. When I look over the dogs, the ones with 1's at the end of their lines sort of "jump out" at me.

I know that dogs that have won their last race by at least a length or two are pretty good bets in their next race. But I also know that, by concentrating on recent winners, I may overlook another dog that doesn't have low numbers at the finish, but has a high chance of winning.

One such scenario is when there's a dog that's dropped down because it's done badly in higher grades. Whether it was just in over its head in those grades, or because it had a few bad races due to racing luck or post position, these dogs are worth a look.

These are the dogs that most of the betting crowd dismisses at high odds. They look at those out-of-the-money finishes and figure the dog is tired or out of form or got injured. While this may be true for some dogs, there are other reasons why dogs can have a series of bad races.

Sometimes, the dog just happens to run several races in a row where it's not in a box where it can use its running style to full advantage. Sometimes, the makeup of the races is such that other dogs keep it from breaking or closing or getting around the turns without trouble.

And, sometimes, the competition in those races in higher grades is just too much for the dog because of where it is in its form cycle. For instance, it may have been in A races right after a stakes series, so that it was running with the best dogs at the track. Sometimes, when a dog knows it can't win, it gets discouraged and loses heart.

Put it in a race in a lower grade, where it can outbreak the other dogs or where it's the only closer in a race with dogs that fade, and you have a winner. And when that happens, the dog perks right up and might even win its next race and start advancing up the grade ladder again.

One thing to keep in mind about handicapping greyhound races is that dogs are creatures of habit. During the 3 years or so that they run, they're pretty consistent. If a dog got up into A, and is now down in C, you have to keep in mind that it won in C to get to A, at some point. If it's between 2 and 3 years old, it's very likely that it will win in C again.

The trick with these dogs is to find them in a box that suits their running style. If they're breakers, it needs to be a race where they can outbreak the other dogs or, at least, not have another breaker next to it on the side that it breaks to. So, if it breaks to the inside, no breakers inside it and vice versa for outside breakers.

You want to see that it can get a good trip and have an advantage over most of the other dogs. Never mind that it came in 4th or worse in its last 4 or 5 races in higher grades. Expect that it will do better now that it's where it's won before, as long as the odds are worth risking.

Look back over some old programs and you'll see that there are many races where the winner paid very well and came in after a string of losses in higher grades. This is true at the harness track and with thoroughbreds too. Sometimes, all losers need is an easier race at a lower grade to become winners again.