How to Handicap Route Races, Book Excerpt

This is an excerpt from Greyhound Handicapping Series, Book 1 on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited at Amazon

There are far more sprint races – shorter races usually at 5/16ths of a mile or 550 yds. – than route races at most tracks. Route races are around 610-660 yds. Marathons are a type of route race that is even longer, but there aren’t many marathons at any track, so we’ll stick with 660 yd. routes for this discussion.

I like route races, though many don’t. One of the things I like about routes is that they last longer than sprints and the dogs have more time to jockey for position and actually use some finesse to work their way up to the lead. The finish of a route is often exciting also, because dogs that close sometimes come charging up and nip the leaders at the wire. Routes are more like horse races to my mind.

That said, handicapping routes is a little different from picking winners in sprints. For one thing, contrary to most people’s opinion, early speed IS important in routes. If you ask 20 track goers what the most important quality of a route dog is, 19 of them would say late speed. While that is also important in routes, early speed is more of a factor than you’d think.

One way to check is by looking at the results of some routes at your favorite track. Look at how the winners got out in most of the route races. Very few of them get out worse than 4th and the majority of them get out better than that. Too many bettors are looking only for late speed in route races and thinking that early speed dogs will get burnt out and fade at the end of the race, so they don’t bet on them.

I like to bet quinielas, so I look for a good solid early speed dog that doesn’t fade and then I look for a couple of closers who also get out pretty well and I box them. Of course, in addition to that I use my usual handicapping tools to eliminate as many contenders as I can. It’s much easier to handicap a race when you’ve narrowed it down to four dogs than when you’re looking at 8 dogs.

Another thing about routes is that so many people think that dogs are either route dogs or sprint dogs, not both. While it’s true that there are dogs that prefer one distance or the other, many dogs can run sprints and routes and even go back and forth between them with no problem. Actually, sometimes a sprint race will “freshen” a dog that usually runs routes and vice versa.

It may take it a couple of races to get back into its stride, but if it’s done well at routes in the past, switching to sprints for a few races won’t make it forget how to run distances. I think dogs get bored with the same routine just like we do, so anything that gives them a change can have a good effect. That’s why so many dogs do well after they come back from a layoff.

So in handicapping routes, look for the same thing that works in sprints, but remember that the dogs come out of the box on a curve rather than a straightaway and then have another curve almost right away, which affects their running style. Negotiating two curves before they get to the first real straightaway can result in dogs getting pinched back if they’re not good at getting around curves even in sprint races.

This is why I’m leery of betting very young dogs in routes until they’ve had a couple of route races under their belts, or until they get a good box position. In routes, the best boxes are the inside boxes, especially for dogs that run the rail, because they have a big advantage coming out on that turn the way the route boxes do.

Wide runners don’t do as well, because it’s harder for them to make up the time they lose going wide on the first two turns in a route. Where in a sprint, they might go wide on the straightaway but still keep up with or pass the other dogs, if they go wide on the first two turns of a route, the other dogs that are running the rail have had two turns where they’ve gotten around a lot faster than the wide running dogs. It makes a big difference.

One other thing about route races that makes them attractive to me is that there aren’t as many of them. This makes it a lot easier to follow a group of dogs that I consider likely contenders in route races at their grade. Keeping track of them is easy with Greyhound Track Data and I keep notes on my programs when they run so that I can bet on them in their next race if I think they’ll be likely to run in the money.

Routes can pay off nicely if you learn to handicap them, because most people don’t handicap them the right way. If you remember that they start on a turn and go into another turn almost right away, and look for early speed that doesn’t fade, then look for a good closer or two, you’ll go the distance and win at the track with route races.

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How to Win With Longshots at the Dog Track

This is an article from the Greyhound Handicapping Series Books 1-6 available in paperback or on Kindle. You can read all 6 books for free with Kindle Unlimited and each book has 3 bonus mini systems.

I’m a longshot player. I admit it. I hardly ever play a dog that’s at less than 5-1 anymore, because I just can’t put up with grinding out a little profit on every program. I know that favorites only win about 1 out of 3 races, which means that – for me at least – they’re not a very good bet.

How do I find longshots? I look for favorites. Not any favorites. I look for favorites that have a reason for being at longer odds than they’re at. For instance, if I see a dog in A who has never won a race in A, at 3-5, I ask myself what the crowd is thinking. Sure, there’s a chance that the dog will win in A today, but no way should it be at really low odds, no matter how well it’s done in the lower grades.

If I see a race with this kind of favorite, or a favorite that has another weakness, I look for a dog that has already won at this level and, preferably, in its last 6 races, and I give it a closer look. Does it have a better post position than it’s had in its last few races? Is there something else that tells me that it has even a small chance of coming in at long odds? Is there one dog that is at high odds that has any reason to make me believe that it might come in if the favorite fails to win?

That’s the key to playing winning longshots. First, find a favorite at low odds that shouldn’t be as big a favorite. Then, find a dog at longer odds that has won at this level before within its last 6 races. Sometimes, I even go with a dog that has won at this level more than 6 races ago, if it was close to the leader in the stretch or finished within two lengths of the winner in its last couple of races. It’s a judgment call, of course, so use your judgment and your common sense.

And, also of course, don’t expect that every race will have a longshot winner or that the favorite will lose every race. Remember that they win – on average – a third of the time. And even when they don’t win, the winner isn’t always at long odds. Most of the time, the winner is within the top four dogs in the morning line odds. Keep that in mind as you handicap, but look for those false favorites and then find the dog that can beat them and pay off at long odds.

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