Winning At The Dog Track With Stakes Races

A lot of greyhound fans love to watch the cream of the crop race in stakes races. Track attendance usually goes up during the qualifying races that lead up to the stakes race and there may even be articles in the paper or on the radio about the event.

But not everyone is happy when a stakes race comes around. My friend, Woody, hates stakes races. He says it’s stupid to bet on stakes races because the favorite gets bet down to nothing and usually wins. I don’t have the statistics, but he’s probably right that the favorite in stakes races wins more of the time than the favorite in non-stakes races.

After all, every dog in the stakes race has raced against the best of the best dogs and beat them to make it to the final race. Of course, to me that also means that any dog in the race is capable of beating the other dogs, given the opportunity and some luck or a little extra running room or the benefit of another dog’s mistake. For instance, I play Charter Kennel dogs at longish odds, because I know they’re good quality and pointed to races they can win.

But even if the winner does come in at low odds, there are other reasons to go to the dog track when there are stakes races. For one thing, the track wants to attract fans to the stakes to increase the handle, so don’t be surprised if the other races on the card are better than usual also. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but it seems to me that the dogs in most of the races are easier to handicap when there are stakes races. Maybe it’s because they’re dogs who run truer to form than some dogs do?

For whatever reason, I always do well in the races on the same card with the stakes races. I don’t bet any differently or bet more, but I seem to go home with more money than I usually do. Maybe it’s the atmosphere or the fact that there are people there who don’t normally come to the dog track. Remember, pari-mutuel betting is betting against the other bettors. If the other bettors don’t know how to handicap, it gives people like us the edge.

For me, in addition to the bonus of winning a little extra, stakes races mean that I get to watch superb athletes doing what they do best. Winning. The dogs really enjoy it. The fans almost all like the special quality of the events surrounding the stakes and the ceremony of acknowledging the winner. It’s something out of the ordinary for the dogs and the fans and it adds some spice to life. Let’s face it, we all need something a little special once in awhile. Isn’t that one reason that we go to the dog track?

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Greyhound Handicapping – Win By a Length

There’s an old saying, “Little things mean a lot.” This is certainly true in greyhound handicapping. How many times have you had your dog lose by a nose?  That’s not much of a difference, or much of a distance, but it means everything when you’ve only bet the dog to win and it places.

Most of the time, when people handicap a program, they look at where the dog was in its last finishes. How many first, seconds or thirds does the dog have? It’s only natural to want to know if the dog has been winning or placing, especially if you play quinielas or other exotics.

Often overlooked but just as important, is how close the dog was in its last few races. Lengths matter just as much, and maybe more, as position at the finish line does. I used to dismiss lengths, because I was focused on dogs that were in the money in their last race. But then I realized that lengths are a much better indicator of how much of a contender a dog will be in its next race.

If a greyhound manages to get very close to the leader at the end of a race, it means it really tried to win that race. Often, because it came so close, it’s more focused on winning in its next race. If it gets a little more racing luck, it could very well be first at the wire.

Think about it, which dog would you rather play? A dog that came in second, 4 lengths behind the winner?  Or a dog that came in second – or even third – but was only a neck behind the dog that won? I’d take the latter dog every time.

I know they say that close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, but I beg to differ.  Dogs that are close to the winner at the wire, might just be first at the wire next time. So, next time you look at a greyhound program, don’t just look for dogs that were in the money.

Look for dogs that were close in lengths at the wire. It’s especially good if you can find a race where there was a crowd at the finish line, so a dog was third or fourth, but still very close. Bettors who only look at position will dismiss the dog and you may be able to get very good odds on it.

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