There’s an old saying, “Little things mean a lot.” This is certainly true in greyhound handicapping. How many times have you had your dog lose by a nose? That’s not much of a difference, or much of a distance, but it means everything when you’ve only bet the dog to win and it places.
Most of the time, when people handicap a program, they look at where the dog was in its last finishes. How many first, seconds or thirds does the dog have? It’s only natural to want to know if the dog has been winning or placing, especially if you play quinielas or other exotics.
Often overlooked but just as important, is how close the dog was in its last few races. Lengths matter just as much, and maybe more, as position at the finish line does. I used to dismiss lengths, because I was focused on dogs that were in the money in their last race. But then I realized that lengths are a much better indicator of how much of a contender a dog will be in its next race.
If a greyhound manages to get very close to the leader at the end of a race, it means it really tried to win that race. Often, because it came so close, it’s more focused on winning in its next race. If it gets a little more racing luck, it could very well be first at the wire.
Think about it, which dog would you rather play? A dog that came in second, 4 lengths behind the winner? Or a dog that came in second – or even third – but was only a neck behind the dog that won? I’d take the latter dog every time.
I know they say that close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, but I beg to differ. Dogs that are close to the winner at the wire, might just be first at the wire next time. So, next time you look at a greyhound program, don’t just look for dogs that were in the money.
Look for dogs that were close in lengths at the wire. It’s especially good if you can find a race where there was a crowd at the finish line, so a dog was third or fourth, but still very close. Bettors who only look at position will dismiss the dog and you may be able to get very good odds on it.