Horse Racing, Dog Racing, Harness Racing – What Works For All Three?

A reader asked me if there is anything that works to pick winners at all three of the types of races he plays. “I play the dogs, the thoroughbreds and harness tracks,” he wrote in an email, “Is there any one angle or method that works for all three of those? Or do I have to handicap them each in different ways?”

When you think about it at first, what could be more different than dog racing and thoroughbred racing? For greyhounds, all you need is a simple program, which is free on or from the track’s site, and you’re good to go.

For horses, you need a program the size of a phone book or the DRF and a lot of time to go over the jockey, trainer and horse’s stats and compare each of them to the other jockeys,  trainers and horses in today’s race. You also have to look at the surface and the distance of the race. Greyhounds race on the same surface at the same distances all their lives. True they may run routes as well as sprints, but there are only two or three distances at each track and they usually stick with either sprints or routes.

Even with harness horses, which usually race at mile distances, different tracks have different distance setups, so a horse that ran on a half mile track last week, might be racing on a five-eighths or even seven-eighths mile track today. How can you possibly find a common handicapping factor between greyhound, thoroughbred and harness races?

Well, here’s one: Best speed in last race in Maiden races. For dogs, it’s that simple. Check back over your old programs and results and you’ll see that it’s the strongest handicapping angle there is in Maiden dog races. For horses, it’s a little more complicated, but not much. Just stay off the grass.

Maiden turf races, especially routes, are one type of race I avoid when I play BSLR (best speed last race) in Maiden horse races. Synthetic isn’t as reliable for BSLR either, but it works fairly well at Woodbine and a couple other synthetic tracks. Not at Del Mar though, but then, what does work at Del Mar, except figuring out which longshot is going to hit the board today?

Another angle that works for dogs and horses both is the spot play where a horse or dog runs first for at least two calls and then just misses the win by two or fewer lengths. These runners are almost always a good bet next time out. And a lot of times it’s not that they fade and lose speed, it’s that another runner passes them right at the wire with a burst of speed. Next time, that probably won’t happen. This spot play works very well at the harness races, by the way.

There are other angles that work at all 3 types of races. Trainers that are good at bringing horses or dogs back to win right off a layoff. Trainers that excel at young dogs or 2 year old horses. Pletcher comes to mind for horses and Charter Kennel for young dogs for greyhounds.

Speed is always a handicapping factor for both dogs and horses, but it’s not all there is. When you go over the results of races you’ve bet on, don’t just do it to see how much money you won or lost. Look for the reason that the winner won that race, and see if the reason isn’t something you can apply to another type of race you play. That’s what I did to come up with the plays I use to win at all three of my favorite sports.



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Good Reads For Greyhound and Horse Racing Handicappers

I was flabbergasted the other day to hear a fellow greyhound handicapper say that he’d never heard of Trackinfo. Hello? Where does this guy get his programs? Sure, some tracks have them on their sites, but Trackinfo has them all. It also has results, a live toteboard, links to all the tracks and much, much more.

I won’t go into all that it has, but I will say that it’s the first place that any greyhound handicapper should go before handicapping the dog races. One of their links is to Greyhound News, which is the best source for up to date daily information on what’s going on in the world of greyhound racing.

It’s what I read with my first cup of coffee every morning, the way I read the front page of the DRF for thoroughbreds and The US Trotting Association site for harness. I also follow Greyhound News on Twitter for up to the minute info on greyhound racing. If you want to be a better greyhound handicapper, give the News and Trackinfo serious consideration.

I guess the big news in the world of Thoroughbred racing this weekend is that Belmont is opening for its Fall meet, now that Saratoga has ended its summer meet. I confess that Saratoga – famous as the graveyard of favorites – is a tough track for me to handicap, except for the maiden races, where I do okay. I’m happy to switch my attention and efforts to Belmont.

If you’re a fan of the NY oval, you might want to go to Equibase and check out the standings for jockeys and trainers at Belmont, based on the May to July meet. If someone asked me, right off the top of my head, who the leading jockey was at Belmont, I probably would have said John Velazquez. Wouldn’t you?

Well, he’s good, but based on earnings, it’s Joel Rosario who’s top of the crop. And based on number of wins and win percentage, it’s Javier Castellano. As a matter of fact, the three top jocks at Belmont’s last meet, based on both earnings, number of wins and win percentage are Javier Castellano, Joel Rosario and hot-as-a-pistol rookie jock, Irad Ortiz.

I have no reason to believe that they won’t do well at Belmont this fall, so I’ll be giving their rides a thorough look when I handicap. I’ll also be looking closely at the top trainers. For both earnings and wins/win percentage, it’s Todd Pletcher, Chad Brown and Christophe Clemente. I look at the top five trainers and the top five jockeys and give them extra consideration when they’re paired.

I don’t intend to ignore harness racing this weekend, while I’m playing the dogs and thoroughbreds. I’m actually going to go outside my comfort zone of win and exacta betting and play some Pick Fours. It’s a lot easier to do with the USTA strategic wagering program, because I can get free pp’s.

Here’s a link to a list of this month’s Strategic Wagering Schedule with the guaranteed pool amounts and the actual pool amounts, which are posted on the day of the program. And here’s a link to a list of the free harness pp’s for the next few day’s strategic wagering program, so you can handicap the Pick Fours.

When I’m not playing the races this week, I’ll be reading something that my good friend and fellow handicapper, Bill Peterson just published. He has new handicapping books out on Kindle and other books in paperback too. I’ve learned more from Bill than from any other handicapper and consider him the best, especially at angles and spot plays. If you’d like to check out his books, here’s a link to his site.

Bill has a way of seeing things from a fresh point of view and of noticing things that most handicappers overlook, which is why he picks more winners than most. If you need some help with your thoroughbred handicapping, invest in one of Bill’s books and read it from cover to cover.




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