Greyhound Handicapping: Looking For Trouble

Profile Picture: Eb Netr

Eb Netr

May 8th, 2013

I've often wished that it was possible to file objections at the greyhound track, like they do at horse tracks, for bumping, crowding and cutting off other dogs. It's really frustrating when a dog I've played is closing on the outside and the dog he's passing suddenly zings to the right and takes him out of contention. It's happened to all of us many times.

This is why I try to play races where there aren't more than one or two dogs with trouble lines. Sometimes though, it would mean skipping almost every race. I've developed an approach to dogs with trouble lines and it might be something you'd want to consider, especially when you can't seem to find a dog that doesn't either cause trouble or seem to attract it.

First of all, there are different kinds of trouble lines. The one that I ignore unless I see it more than once in a dog's lines is "blocked", because any dog can get blocked once in a while. Unless a dog is the fastest breaker at the track, sooner or later, another dog will get in front of him and impede his progress.

When I see that a dog was blocked in a race, I look at what that dog did after that. Did it just fade and lose ground? If so, maybe it's a dog that has to see the lure and it lost sight of it. Did it continue to run and make up some ground, even though it didn't run in the money? If so, I'll give it a pass and play it if it looks like a good bet.

Dogs that get bumped a lot always make me suspicious that they were the bump-er rather than the bump-ee in most of the instances. And some of the worst offenders are small females. Don't ask me why, because I don't know. You would think that they would be the ones being bumped, but watch enough races and you'll see that some of them are so contentious that they won't put up with another dog being next to them or passing them.

When a dog comes up from behind one of these feisty females, they'll veer over and whack it as it goes by, which means they won't be in the money and probably the dog they hit won't be either. They keep running, but mixing it up with other dogs slows them down, so they don't accomplish much with this maneuver. If you see one of these on the program, it's best to put your money on dogs that can outbreak them and stay ahead of them.

Young dogs tend to have more trouble lines than older dogs. Look at a Grade M race and then look at a Grade A race and you'll see what I mean. Dogs don't get into A by fighting or getting themselves blocked, bumped or crowded. So, if I look at a dog that has moved up from M to J and is now in D, I want to see that it's doing better at avoiding trouble as it moves up the grade ladder.

That tells me that, even though it may have gotten into trouble or caused it when it was a green maiden, it's learned from its mistakes. It's beginning to get the idea that avoiding trouble gets it where it wants to be, which is ahead of the pack. We want to bet on dogs that care more about winning than they do about interacting with other dogs. These dogs become the alpha dogs in the pack as it chases the lure, but they don't do it by fighting. They do it by outrunning the other dogs and giving out vibes that tell the other dogs not to mess with them.

Sometimes, dogs that fight or cause trouble get shipped to another track. If there's a shipper on the program, I always do my homework and check back into its previous races to see if it has lots of trouble lines. If it does, I watch to see if it will cause trouble at the new track. Usually they do, but once in a while, a dog will seem to smarten up when it moves to a new track. Only time will tell with these dogs, so watch their first few races and see if they settle down and start running cleaner races.

Greyhound races with no fighters, blockers or crowders are hard enough to handicap. Throw in a dog that interferes with the other dogs' progress and you have a real puzzle. If you can avoid races with dogs with trouble lines in them, do so. Maybe stick with the higher grade races. But if that's not enough action for you, you'll have to work on figuring out how much havoc the dogs that bump or block or cut off other dogs will cause.

After you pick out the dogs that you think are contenders in that race, see if you can tell if any dogs will be able to impede their progress at any point. If they can outbreak the other dogs and hold the lead, they're home free and won't be affected by trouble. But if they're slow to break or tend to blow the turn or go wide on it, watch out. Ten to one, some dog will either block them after the break or hit them on the turn.

I look at it this way, dogs who cause trouble are like speed bumps in a race. I try to bet dogs that will be ahead of them from the git-go or dogs that have shown that they're agile and smart enough to avoid trouble by getting around it in past races. I look for dogs in a good post position, with the ability to break and get out in front of trouble and stay there all the way to the wire. These are the dogs that leave trouble behind them - and win.