Greyhound Handicapping – The Basics

(This is an excerpt from Greyhound Handicapping with Eb available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon)

If you want to learn how to pick winners at the dog track, there are a few basics that help. Knowing the factors that predict which dog has the best chance of winning is the first step. There’s no guarantee that the dog with the most going for it will win, but common sense and experience tells us that this is the dog that gives you the least risk for the biggest chance of a reward.

First of all, speed is a factor that has to be taken into consideration with greyhounds. It matters more in shorter races and also in Maiden races. However, it’s also a bigger factor in longer races than most people think it is. When you look at the dogs, if there are any whose speed figures just aren’t up to most of the other dogs, it’s fairly safe to assume that they won’t be able to keep up today either. They might be second or third for exotic bets like exactas, trifectas and superfectas, but it’s doubtful that they’ll suddenly wake up and win.

Class is another factor that has to be looked at. Yes, sometimes a young hotshot dog will rise quickly through the grades and beat classier dogs, but that’s not what usually happens. And when you risk money, it’s best to risk it on what usually happens, unless you’re a longshot specialist and beginners aren’t. Look for dogs that have been running in the grade of the race, or even better, in higher grade races. If they’ve been in faster races with better dogs, there’s a really good chance that they’re better than today’s lower grade competition.

Form is that tricky factor that is hard to explain and hard to find on a program. Basically, it’s whether the dog is doing well right now. Dogs go in and out of form, running some good races and then running some so-so or even out of the money races, unless they’re the cream of the crop at that track. Like horses, they have a cycle of wins and losses, although it’s shorter than horses’ cycles.

I look for dogs that are getting better but haven’t peaked. I look back in their history and see what their form looks like over time. Do they get up to A and then drop back down to B? Or do they plateau at B and just run in the money enough to stay there without dropping down or getting graded off? With dogs, once they’ve climbed the grade ladder and dropped back down again and had a layoff, it’s likely that they’ll repeat the cycle, not exceed their highest grade.

There are other factors, of course. How is the kennel doing in general? Does the dog like its post position, if you look back over its races. Does the track have a bias today and what is the weather like? If it’s raining, look back over the dog’s races to see if it comes in on a wet track.

When you’re just starting out, it might seem overwhelming when you look at all the factors that go toward making one dog a winner. Starting with the basics i.e. speed, class and form is a good way to ease into greyhound handicapping.

Make small bets to win and place. Listen to more experienced handicappers. Don’t risk more than you can afford to lose. And don’t expect to learn the ropes overnight. It takes time and a lot of hard work to become a consistent winner at the greyhound track.

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