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Jeffrey, one of my readers and an astute handicapper recently asked me about class in greyhound handicapping. He wanted to know if I used it and how important I think it is. That’s a good question and I’m glad he asked it.
At the time, I was handicapping horse races at Saratoga, a very classy track and a tough nut to crack. It isn’t called the “graveyard of favorites” for nothing. I’ve noticed how class works in horse races and it’s similar to how it seems to work in dog races.
I pay attention to class more of ten in route races and in the upper grades – mostly the top two grades. In the lower grades, I think speed is of more importance and whether or not the dog is sound, because lower grade races are more likely to have dogs that are out of form.
When you think about it, stakes dogs come out of the top grade, not the lower ones, and class definitely matters in stakes races, especially ones for older dogs. With puppies, sometimes there’s one that suddenly wakes up and smells the rabbit, so to speak, in a stakes race. But with older dogs, they’ve already been around the track enough times to know where the finish line is and how to get there first.
Class dogs are dogs that stay in the top two grades without dropping into a lower grade more than once in a long while. Maybe when they come back from a break it might take them a race or two to get back into stride, but they’ll quickly climb right back up into A or AA and stay there.
Of course, class alone isn’t all I use to handicap top grade races, or any race for that matter. I still consider all the factors that affect the outcome of greyhound races whenever I open a program and I hope you do too. But when you’re handicapping the top grades look for the top dogs and they’re usually the ones with the most class.