Greyhound Handicapping - Are You Positive?

Profile Picture: Eb Netr

Eb Netr

November 13th, 2013











  People are always saying that we should have a positive attitude. I agree that it's good to look at the bright side, but like anything else, it can be taken too far. When we handicap greyhound races, it's good to be positive about winning and about our abilities, but we need to look at the negative side as well.

Too often, when we handicap a race, we look at the best qualities of the dogs and forget to look at what might keep them from winning the race. We see that they have the best speed and class of any dog in the field and forget to notice that they haven't been breaking well lately, when their running style has always been early speed in the past.

Or we see that they've won a schooling race by ten lengths, but overlook the fact that there were only four dogs in that race. That does make a big difference. It's not enough to look at a dog's strengths. When we handicap, we need to look at its weaknesses too, and weigh them against one another.

For instance, there's a dog at Southland that hasn't been out of the money when it runs from the 1 box. It has a really good record lately, because it's been in the 1 box in three out of five of its last races, and has won every race where it ran from the rail post. It gets bet down to less than even odds every time it runs now, but it doesn't come in when it's outside the three box.

If the bettors would just look a little more closely at where it was when it hit the board and where it was when it DIDN'T hit the board, the odds would be more realistic on it. But they don't. They see three wins out of five and that's good enough for them to back it when it doesn't really have a realistic shot at winning, because of its post position.

One negative that can outweigh any number of positives is trouble. Dogs that have a lot of trouble lines aren't good bets, I don't care how good their last race looks. True, they may avoid trouble in this race, but don't bet on it, pun intended. If a dog is constantly getting bumped, blocked or flies the turns, don't expect that it will win just because it's the fastest dog in the race or classiest dog.

Dogs that have a lot of trouble lines always manage to find a way to get into trouble, no matter how fast they are or how classy or how bad the other dogs look. Trust me on this. Another negative that can outweigh positives is when a dog is slow out of the box and is a closer. Unless it lucks out and the other dogs fly the turn or move aside to give it room to run in the stretch, it will finish at the back of the pack, time after time.

Once in a long while, this type of dog will catch a break and manage to finish in the money. Either the other dogs ALL run out of steam in the stretch, or there's an accident on the first turn that takes out enough dogs to make room for the slow breaking closer to get to the finish line on time. But you can't depend on these things and if you play the dog every time it runs, you'll lose your shirt.

There's a lot of wishful thinking and hoping involved in gambling. It's natural to wish hard that our dog will come in as the greyhounds run around the track. Natural too to urge it on and even to call on Lady Luck to bring it home. But wishful thinking and optimism with no basis in reality have no place in handicapping. Save them for after the race goes off, when they can't affect your judgment.