Greyhound Handicapping - Don't Overlook the Differences
Wouldn't it be nice if there was just one technique that would pick winners at the greyhound track? Just one way of handicapping that would work on any race, at any track, at any distance? Unfortunately, there isn't any such thing. So why do we handicap as if there is?
I'm as guilty of it as anyone. I find something that seems to pick winners in sprints at Palm Beach so I use the same method on a sprint at Southland. I look for a dog with good early speed who can outbreak the other dogs to the turn. Wrong!
That might work in sprints at Palm Beach on a fast track, but at Southland, the stretch is over 30 yards longer than it is at Palm Beach. By the time they get halfway down the stretch, dogs that outbreak the other dogs and get around the first turn first at Southland often are passed by dogs that got out slower and saved their strength. And shippers from other tracks are wondering who moved the finish line.
Southland's sprints are longer than any other greyhound track. That's why the times might look slow when you first look at a Southland program, if you're used to the shorter sprint distances at other tracks. The first time I looked at a Southland program, I thought they must have made the track out of quicksand or something.
Even at the same track, different distances call for different handicapping methods. Post position bias can vary a lot depending on whether the race is a route, a sprint or - especially - a dash. This applies to every track that has dashes.
Post position and early speed are everything in dashes. I won't play a dog to the outside of the 4 box in a dash. Check out the results for dashes at your track and you'll see why. Very few dogs can manage to get to the front in a dash from the outside boxes.
In routes, although it might seem as if the dogs have enough time to overcome post position bias, it's not always true. At most tracks, the inside boxes - the 1, 2, and 3 boxes - have an advantage. At some tracks, it's a big factor, as you can tell by the number of inside dogs that win, if you look at the results.
At other tracks, it's not so obvious, but there's still an inside box bias. That doesn't mean that you should only bet inside dogs in routes, or that only inside dogs win routes. But it does mean that you should be on the lookout for dogs with good speed and other good factors, in inside posts.
They already have an edge, so it's as if you gave a good base runner the lead of being halfway to home with a good batter up. If a dog has a lot going for it anyway, don't count it out when it's in a box with a good bias. Since that bias differs from track to track, the only way you can keep up with the tracks you play, is by making sure that you read their stats section weekly.
For all of these reasons and more, we have to tailor our handicapping to the track, the distance, the weather and anything else that can affect the outcome of the races. I don't mind playing an off track at the Florida tracks in the summer, because there are showers almost every afternoon. The dogs are used to it.
I don't mind playing an off track at Bluffs Run, even if it's still snowing on a January afternoon. It snows a lot in Bluffs Run in the winter and the dogs that run there are used to snow. But I don't handicap the races the same way that I handicap on a fast track. I change my method to suit the condition of the track.
When the track is wet and fast at Palm Beach, early speed dogs get out and go wire to wire in a lot of races. But when the track is muddy and deep and heavy, because it's raining steadily, rather than just a shower, closers with stamina are a better bet.
Keep these things in mind when you handicap. Be flexible and willing to change the way you figure out the races depending on the distance, the track and the weather. It's not as easy as a one-size-fits-all handicapping method, but it works a lot better at picking winners.