Greyhound Handicapping: How To Decide If A Race is Playable

Profile Picture: Eb Netr

Eb Netr

March 13th, 2013

If you're like a lot of people, every race is playable. You go to the greyhound track or play online once in a while and when you play, you want action. You want something going in every race and you'll find a play no matter how hard it is to find a dog that's better than the rest.

If, however, you're a little more serious about making money and picking winners, you might just scan the races and then pick out several with standout dogs that make it easy to construct exotic keys and boxes. If that's your handicapping style, and if it works for you, don't change it.

But if you're not picking as many winners as you'd like, or if you're sitting out too many races, maybe you should change the way you decide whether a race is playable or not. Just scanning the races, quickly, isn't the best way to do that if you really want to make money.

One of the biggest reasons that handicappers give for not handicapping every race, is because it "wastes" time. Handicapping a whole race, in depth, and then realizing that it's not really playable makes them feel like they just spent fifteen to twenty minutes on nothing. Many handicappers say they can tell you in two minutes whether a race is playable. They're wrong about that though.

When I sit down with a program, I scan the races quickly, like most people do. But then I start at the first race and handicap it, the same way I handicap every race. First, I look for favorable factors for each dog. Speed, pace, post position, kennel stats, speed in its last three races, whether it's hit the board in its last three races, and win and quiniela percentages for this year.

I look to see where the dog is in its form cycle. Is it progressing or regressing? Is it getting into trouble on the turns? Does it seem to be a fighter? Then I look at the running styles of the dogs to see how they relate to the break and the first turn.

Are there two breakers, side by side? Is there a dog that wants the inside to the right of a dog that wants midtrack and will they break at the same time? Is there any situation in the race that creates a very favorable situation for one dog? Or, is there a situation in this race that creates a very bad situation for one or more dogs?

If the answer to the last question is "yes", I pass on the race, because it's not playable for me. Some handicappers are very good at figuring out what's going to happen if Dog A bumps Dog B at the break, but I'm not one of them. Some can visualize the dogs going into the first turn and coming out of it, but I'm not good at that "vision thing." So if it looks like there's going to be a mess on the turn, I pass and move on to handicapping the next race.

So, did I waste my time, handicapping a whole race that I'm not going to play? I don't think so. But if I did, I'd rather waste time than money. And money is what I waste when I just scan races and don't play them because they look - on the surface - to be unplayable.

I can't tell you how many times I've done that, then gone back and looked at the race again, and found it very playable and very profitable, because of something I've overlooked.

One race, in particular, stands out in my mind. It was at Wheeling and I had decided that too many of the inside and middle dogs wanted the outside, so I passed it by. Later on, between races, I gave it another look, just for something to do, and realized that there was one dog that didn't want the outside and it was on the rail! Somehow, in my quick scan, I had overlooked that very important piece of handicapping information.

Lucky for me, the race hadn't gone off yet. Before it did, I put some serious money down on the 1 dog, which romped home while the other dogs were sorting themselves out from the tangle at the break when most of them tried to get the outside of the track while the rest of the dogs went midtrack. The 1 was at good odds, because it had a slow time compared to the other dogs. But it got the break and they didn't and - in that particular race - that was all that mattered.

This is the kind of thing that you might not notice if you just scan a race. Take the time to look at every race. Rate it as playable or not and then rank it. Decide how much money to risk on each race. Very rarely will your confidence level be the same for each race you play. If you feel really sure about a race, put more money on it, but save some for the other playable races too.