Greyhound Handicapping - Three Things That Can Keep You From Winning

Eb Netr

January 23rd, 2013

Three things that should make you think twice about playing a race:

A dog on the inside that wants the outside. A dog on the outside that wants the inside. A dog that goes wide in the 3, 4 or 5 box.

How many times have you played a race, only to have your top pick, who's on the inside, get wiped out when a dog to the right of him takes a left out of the box? Or, alternatively, see your outside dog get hit by a dog that's on the inside but wants the outside and takes a right out of the box? It's one of the most common causes of high blood pressure in greyhound handicappers.

Then there are the times when a dog in the 3 box gets out straight, but goes wide on the turns and takes out all the dogs from the 4 box over to the 8 box. True, if you were smart enough to see this coming and bet on the two inside dogs, you'd be applauding the move. But if you're like me, you'd have one of the dogs that got knocked out of contention.

Unfortunately, especially in the lower grades and Maiden races, you'll find a lot of races with one of these setups. In Maiden races, the young dogs often check on the turns or go wide and it affects the other dogs who are behind or to the right of them. Other times, dogs in Maiden races zig over to the rail on turns and then zag back out toward the outside in the stretches. That can raise havoc with the other dogs too.

You don't get as much of this in the higher grades. That's how dogs get into the higher grades a lot of the time. They learn to hug the turns, but they don't go way wide afterward in the stretch. They break out of the box and quickly get to where they want to run before the other dogs can get in their way.

When you handicap, be aware of this scenario. Notice where each dog runs and try to picture where each dog will be at the important points in the race. I try to visualize the break, the run up to the first turn, the first turn itself, and the far turn, although by then in most races, the dogs have sorted themselves out pretty well.

Sometimes, if it looks like one or two dogs are going to break sharply to the left or right, thus blocking the dogs breaking into their path, you might want to just pass the race. No matter how good a handicapper you are, when too many dogs in a race are not where they want to run, it's impossible to predict what might happen.

Sometimes, just one dog can completely mess up a race at the break or on the first turn. It only takes one dog on the inside on the turn, suddenly deciding to go outside, to change the outcome of the race completely. If your pick is a dog that doesn't get out that well, but accelerates on the turn and picks up speed in the stretch, it might be hit hard enough on the turn to knock it out of contention.

If any of these situations exist in a race you're handicapping, the first thing you have to ask yourself is whether there's a dog that can avoid the trouble that you can see developing in this race. Is there a dog with enough early speed to be in front of the trouble by outbreaking the dog that will zip over to the left or right at the break or on the turn?

If the answer is "yes", then I'd play the race. If the answer is "no", I wouldn't. And if you can't really tell whether the dog that you like to win will outbreak or outrun the dog that could cause trouble in this race, the answer is that you have to figure out whether it's worth risking money on a race with such a murky outcome. That, of course, would depend on how much money you have to play with and the odds on the dog that you think will win the race if it can avoid trouble.