Greyhound Handicapping: Taking the Good With the Bad

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Eb Netr

July 18th, 2013

After you've been a greyhound handicapper for a while, you get to know what's good and what's bad as far as handicapping factors go. Early speed is good. Slow out of the box is bad. Hugging the rail on corners is good. Going wide is bad. Gaining in the stretch is good. Fading in the stretch is bad. Simple, right?

Unfortunately, it's not that simple or we'd all be rich. I can think of at least 3 dogs that usually outbreak all of the dogs in the races they run in. But not one of them wins more than an occasional race. Why? Well, one fades in the stretch. One runs wide on corners and one only breaks when it's in the 8 box.

I think of this as handicapping the good with the bad. So many times, handicappers are dazzled by something like early speed or inside running, and don't notice that there's something else the dog has or does that cancels out the good thing. We've all played dogs in post positions that they almost never come in from, because they just looked so good for some other reason.

I think of how many times I've played a certain dog in the 6 box at a southern track, when I know the 6 box is poison and the dog likes the inside. It's a really good dog - up in the top grade where it stays most of the time. It's usually the fastest dog in every race it's in. It looks like nothing will be able to catch it in the stretch where it accelerates after taking the lead at the break.

But put it in the 6 box, and it acquires a bad trait that outweighs its good traits. From that box, it seems to lose its bearings. It's a little slower to break. It doesn't quite get to the rail, where it wants to be. And it seems to fade in the stretch just enough to knock it out of the money. I know that I need to play that dog when it has a good post position, because that's when it will come in. But it just looks SO GOOD that I'm blinded by how it lays over the other dogs.

There's another dog at Wheeling that loves the 8 box and always breaks when it's in it. I see its name in the program in the 8 box and I almost automatically have a play. That is, unless it has a breaker beside that breaks to the outside. When the 7 breaks to the outside, this dog invariably bumps it instead of clearing it. It's as if it doesn't want to share its space with another breaker, as if it's a contest for winning the break instead of winning the race.


Handicapping is a process of balancing the factors that each dog has and finding the dog with the most going for it. But more than that, it's putting one factor up against another factor, for the same dog, and figuring out which one will have the most influence in this race. That's how you cash tickets and build up your bankroll at the dog track.