Horse Racing, Dog Racing, Harness Racing – What Works For All Three?

A reader asked me if there is anything that works to pick winners at all three of the types of races he plays. “I play the dogs, the thoroughbreds and harness tracks,” he wrote in an email, “Is there any one angle or method that works for all three of those? Or do I have to handicap them each in different ways?”

When you think about it at first, what could be more different than dog racing and thoroughbred racing? For greyhounds, all you need is a simple program, which is free on or from the track’s site, and you’re good to go.

For horses, you need a program the size of a phone book or the DRF and a lot of time to go over the jockey, trainer and horse’s stats and compare each of them to the other jockeys,  trainers and horses in today’s race. You also have to look at the surface and the distance of the race. Greyhounds race on the same surface at the same distances all their lives. True they may run routes as well as sprints, but there are only two or three distances at each track and they usually stick with either sprints or routes.

Even with harness horses, which usually race at mile distances, different tracks have different distance setups, so a horse that ran on a half mile track last week, might be racing on a five-eighths or even seven-eighths mile track today. How can you possibly find a common handicapping factor between greyhound, thoroughbred and harness races?

Well, here’s one: Best speed in last race in Maiden races. For dogs, it’s that simple. Check back over your old programs and results and you’ll see that it’s the strongest handicapping angle there is in Maiden dog races. For horses, it’s a little more complicated, but not much. Just stay off the grass.

Maiden turf races, especially routes, are one type of race I avoid when I play BSLR (best speed last race) in Maiden horse races. Synthetic isn’t as reliable for BSLR either, but it works fairly well at Arlington and a couple other synthetic tracks. Not at Woodbine though, but then, what does work at Woodbine? If you know, could you clue me in too?

Another angle that works for dogs and horses both is the spot play where a horse or dog runs first for at least two calls and then just misses the win by two or fewer lengths. These runners are almost always a good bet next time out. And a lot of times it’s not that they fade and lose speed, it’s that another runner passes them right at the wire with a burst of speed. Next time, that probably won’t happen. This spot play works very well at the harness races, by the way.

There are other angles that work at all 3 types of races. Trainers that are good at bringing horses or dogs back to win right off a layoff. Trainers that excel at young dogs or 2 year old horses. Pletcher comes to mind for horses and Charter Kennel for young dogs for greyhounds. Ron Burke is good with young harness horses especially with Dave Palone or one of his other good drivers guiding them.

Speed is always a handicapping factor for both dogs and horses, but it’s not all there is. When you go over the results of races you’ve bet on, don’t just do it to see how much money you won or lost. Look for the reason that the winner won that race, and see if the reason isn’t something you can apply to another type of race you play. That’s what I did to come up with the plays I use to win at all three of my favorite sports.



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