“This dog is due.” How many times have you heard someone say that at the track? Have you ever really thought about what that means? Does it mean the dog should run in the money in this race? If so, why? What makes a dog due? This past week, I had a reason to ponder this “due dog” thing after it cost me some money.
For family reasons, I spend a lot of time in a state that doesn’t have a greyhound track. Luckily, the next state over has simulcasts from several dog tracks, so I drive there regularly. Sometimes I go for the day, but from time to time, I stay for several days at a time. Recently, I spent a week soaking up the atmosphere and putting down bets at one of my favorite tracks. I made some money and had a good time and, as usual, I learned something.
On the second day, I was sitting at the little table in my motel room, drinking a coffee and handicapping my program for Wheeling for that day. In the third race, which was a D race, there was a dog that caught my eye. He was dropping down from C and had run as far up as A in his career. He had early speed in a couple of his races and his quiniela percentage was a decent 33%.
Being in the quiniela in one out of three races is very good for a dog in C, so I figured the odds would be very low on this dog. I circled him for one of my quiniela box dogs, finished handicapping and went to play the races.
When the race came up, the dog wasn’t the favorite. As a matter of fact, he was at pretty long odds and stayed there until just before the race went off. Now, I don’t usually make side bets after I’ve bet my usual three-dog quiniela box, but I was on vacation and ahead, so I went up and bet this dog to win and place. My reasoning was that he had a record of coming in every third race and he hadn’t come in the money for six races, so he was due.
What was I thinking? He ran fifth and that was only because the other three dogs were having trouble with their walkers and canes. (Little humor there.) Like many a punter I’d heard before, I heard myself saying those words, “But he was due! How could he not come in?”
Where I went wrong with this whole “due” theory is where many a bettor has gone wrong. Percentages are wonderful things to know, but you have to keep in mind that they’re just indicators, not written in stone. For instance, if a dog runs 100 races and runs in the money in half of them, he has a trifecta percentage of 50%.
So, if the dog runs a race and doesn’t come in the money, he should be in the money in the next race, right? Wrong. He could run 50 races and not be in the money and then run 50 races where he is in the money. Or he could run 25 races in the money and 25 out of the money, then 25 in and 25 out. Or, what’s more likely, he can run a couple of races in the money, then run out of the money for one or more races, then run in the money again for a race or two.
The thing with percentages and probability is that a probability of 1 out of 2 just means that the dog has averaged out to being in the money in half of the races that he’s run to this point in the season. There are two variables here. One is that this is a record of the past, not a prediction of the future. The second is that, even if he does continue to be in the money in 1 out of 2 races, that doesn’t mean that he’ll do it in consecutive races.
He might win a race, come in 2nd in his next race and then run out of the money for four races before he’s in the quiniela or trifecta again. There’s really no such thing as a dog that’s “due” even if his record is 100% in the money, because this race is a whole ‘nother thing.