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.
First of all, not all handicappers agree on the factors to use when handicapping dogs. You may have your own list, but for now, I’ll use mine. The main factors that I use to handicap greyhound races are speed, class, post position and running style. I think just about everyone uses this information to handicap, but there’s another factor that matters just as much, and more in a lot of races.
In almost every race, which dog is going to get the break is a big consideration. How many times have you seen a race where a dog breaks, takes the lead and keeps it? Not only does it have the advantage of getting out ahead of the pack, it also gets out and stays out ahead of the bumping, crowding and trouble on the corners that the slower breaking dogs have to contend with.
To rank dogs, I start with speed. I don’t just look at raw speed and which dog has been running the fastest times in its last couple of races though. I look at how much speed there is in the race. Is there just one dog that can outbreak the others? Or is there a lot of early speed? This makes a huge difference in handicapping.
If there’s only one dog with early speed in the race, I have to consider it, as long as it has times that are as good as most of the dogs in the race. If there’s a lot of early speed, then I have a real handicapping job on my hands. I have to figure out whether the dogs that get out early are going to knock each other out of contention or whether one or more of them will be able to use that early speed to get a good position in the beginning of the race.
That’s where the other factors come in. Class, post position and running style are the two most important factors after speed, especially in a race with a lot of early speed. I look at the class of the dog to figure out if it can outbreak the other dogs. Dogs that can outbreak most of the dogs in a Grade A race are better bets than dogs that have only shown early speed in Grade B races, for instance.
Then there’s post position and running style, which really have to be taken together. If a dog is in the 6 box and loves the inside, but will probably be out-broken by two or three other dogs, it’s not as good a play as if it was in the 1 box. If a dog goes wide and it’s to the left of a dog that wants the inside, and they both break about the same, what will happen to the dogs on either side of them when they collide at the break?
As you can see, you almost have to play out the race in your head, using the handicapping factors together. And that’s the real secret to ranking dogs. You can’t just rate them by speed, or by class or post position or running style. You have to put it all together and weigh up which of those things, if any, will matter more than the others. But even if there is one factor that you think will influence the race more than the others, you can’t ignore anything that has a bearing on a race.
So, when I handicap a race, I start with speed, because as we know, fast dogs win races. (Slow ones end up as couch potatoes in an adoptive home.) Then I look at class to see if any dog is a lot classier than the others. Then I look at which dog is going to outbreak the others, then post position, then running style.
Last but not least, I try to put it all together, to see how all of these factors will impact the race. My top dog will be the one with the most positive factors. If I find a class dog with early speed, that can outbreak the other dogs, and that has a good post position that fits its running style, I rank it very high and I know I’ve found a good bet.
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