Greyhound Handicapping: Spot Plays and Special Situations

Eb Netr

March 20th, 2013

I play a lot of spot plays. I also handicap every race, no matter how good a spot play looks. It's tempting when I find a spot play to just play it and hope for the best, but that doesn't give me a positive Return On Investment (ROI). What does help me cash tickets is combining spot plays, handicapping and special situations that develop as the day's races progress.

For instance, one of my favorite spot plays is to find a dog that's dropped down and won within three races and is back up a grade. Very often, these spots win within 3 races. I used to play these spots without even looking at the rest of the dogs or the makeup of the race. Not anymore.

By keeping good records of my wins and losses, I found a factor that increased my return on this spot play by enough to give me twice the ROI that I had been getting on it. It's so simple that I kick myself for not seeing it when I noticed this spot play in the first place.

Now, the only time I play this spot play is when the dog has won in the grade it's moving back into. For instance, if it ran in A, dropped down to B and won within 3 races and moves back up into A - and it has won in A before - I'll play it. If it hasn't won in A, I'll pass.

Yes, sometimes dogs win when I don't play them, but more often they don't. This is only one of the spot plays I've learned to tweak. Another is when a dog finishes second after leading throughout a race. This is often a sign that it will hang on and win its next race.

However, if I look back and see that the dog has "seconditis" and often fades to second, or if it has a very high percentage of seconds to wins, I'll play it in exotics, but not to win. Once in a while, these dogs will win and probably shock everyone, including themselves, but by the time they do, you'll have lost more money than you've won.

It surprises me how often these chronic placers are made the favorite, when it's obvious that they place, not win. This is really a spot play in itself, come to think of it. Just find a race where a dog that is almost always second, and almost never wins, is the favorite. Find a dog that has a decent time in its last race, a good post position and a chance to take the break, and you might have the winner.

One of the special situations that has made me money is when I notice that the track has a bias today, and see a dog that can take advantage of that bias. If it's a wet track, and there's a dog that is very fast out of the box, I know that it will have an advantage over the dogs that aren't as quick to break, even if their times are faster. There's something about a wet track, at most tracks, that benefits dogs that get the lead.

If the track is favoring the inside today, which it does at Palm Beach on many days, I look for a dog that's in an inside box that might have just missed from farther out in its last race. This works especially well if there's a big favorite in a middle or outside box. With the extra little advantage of the inside bias, a decent dog in the 1 box can outdo itself and beat dogs that it couldn't beat from another box.

Handicapping is difficult and takes time. Playing spot plays when they're good plays, and taking advantage of special situations like track bias can make it easier and quicker. More important, they can give you more winning tickets and that's the bottom line for everyone.