Greyhound Handicapping: Situational Setups

Eb Netr

July 11th, 2013

A friend of mine has a saying, "If it happened once, it'll happen again." He means that, for instance, if a black cat walks in front of you on your way home from the track, another cat will probably do the same thing within a short time. It's interesting how often he's right. The same thing applies to the greyhound track.

I was thinking about this the other day when I was handicapping a race where there were two dogs that usually run first most of the way around the track, and one that usually runs second and then closes on the leaders at the end. He often wins with this tactic. Most people don't notice something about his wins though.

He has to have a leader to follow. If there's little early speed in a race, this dog just lopes along at the back of the pack and doesn't hit the board. So, when I see his name in the program, I look to see whether he'll have a breaker to follow. If he does, he might be a good bet.

There's more to it than that though. Besides having a breaker to follow, there has to be two other situations in this setup for it to pan out. The breaker has to be the type of dog that fades at the end of the race. And the closer has to be the best closer or the only closer in the race.

If there are too many other dogs that get out right behind the leader and then close, my dog might get lost in the shuffle. I have to figure out if the scenario that lets him win will set up in this race or not, before I put money on him. If it's not an ideal situation for him, I'll pass and wait until he's in a race with a better setup.

There are other situations that I look for when I handicap. A breaker between two dogs that get out more slowly, for instance. But then I have to check for other breakers that might beat my dog out of the box. I can't just assume that getting out ahead of the dogs on either side of it will give it the advantage it needs to win this race. It's a start, but I have to look at the whole setup of the race.

Dogs on the rail with no other rail runners in the race are often a good bet, but not if the midtrack and outside runners are a lot faster or will catch the break and keep it. Once again, the initial setup - only rail runner - is a start on a good situation. But you have to look at the big picture, not just that part of it.

Knowing about patterns that happen over and over again is a good handicapping shortcut, as long as you don't just scan for them and not look at the rest of the race - the dogs, their preferred post positions, running style, class level and speed. Start with a pattern that repeats, but go on to make sure that what's happened once, will happen again in THIS race.