How Do I Win At The Dog Track?

When you think about it, it’s amazing that some people take the same information that everyone has – the information in the program – and use it to win when other people lose. It’s the same data. Everyone who goes to the dog track sees the same thing that everyone else in the crowd sees. So how come so many people miss whatever it is that the winners see?

First of all, it’s because not everyone reads the program. Many people just glance at the dog’s names and maybe their kennel. That’s obviously not enough information to handicap anything. Even the people who delve a little deeper and look at the winning percentage of each dog don’t have enough information to figure out which dog with a good winning percentage is going to prevail in this particular race.

Then there are the people – few in number – who pore over the program, taking note of each tiny little detail down to the names of the dogs’ parents and its post positions for its last year’s races. While it’s good to be thorough, there’s such a thing as being TOO thorough and missing the forest for the trees.

The best handicappers know that they should give very little weight to things like the dogs’ weights, their parents, what they did twenty races ago and the kennel’s stats. They concentrate on the most important factors: class, form, post position and the probable interaction of the 8 dogs’ running style in this race.

That’s it. That’s all there is to handicapping. Of course, HOW you analyze this information is the crucial element. Each handicapper has to develop his or her own style and method of picking winners, or find a system or coach to help them.

That most bettors never do is evident by how few cash enough tickets to offset their bets. Most bettors go home poorer than when they went to the track, unfortunately. If they’d realize that they have as good a chance as anyone else at figuring out a winning system, they’d be much better off – financially and emotionally. It’s no fun to lose consistently, as 9 out of 10 people at the greyhound track could tell you.

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Overcoming Bad Post Positions in Greyhound and Horse Races

Don’t you hate it when you find a good bet and it’s in a bad post position? For instance, you see a puppy from a litter that you’ve been watching and winning with, but he’s in the 6 box and he runs the rail. Or you’re at a half-mile harness track and you handicap to find the best horse and it’s in the 8 post. Or you’re playing Saratoga thoroughbreds and there’s a horse in an inside post in a turf sprint. Should you play these bets, knowing that the odds are against them?

Well, you could skip races where your pick is in an unfavorable post position. Or, if you’re like me, you could take a closer look and see what they have going for them to overcome it. The first thing I look for in greyhounds is their record in that box, or the box to the outside of it. Or, if it’s the 6 box, I look to see how they did in the 7 box. I don’t look at how they did in the 8 box, because that gives them the advantage of not having another dog to the outside of them.

If the dog I like, who’s in the 6 box today, did well from that box or the 7 box, AND if it has good early speed, I give it another look. If it’s a puppy with only a couple of races, that’s about all I can go on, except to see if it had trouble-free races so far. If it got into a lot of trouble in previous races from more advantageous positions, then I give it a miss in today’s race. If it’s an older dog with a good racing record – 30% for wins and over half the time in the quiniela – I usually play it.

With harness races on half-mile tracks, post position is really important. It takes a very good driver and horse to overcome the bias that the inside horses have. (On longer tracks,  7/8ths and a mile, post position bias sometimes shifts to the mid track horses and almost disappears at some mile long tracks.) So, if my standardbred pick is in the 6 post, I look at the driver’s win percentage. If it’s 15 percent or more and the trainer has a good win percentage and the horse has won or placed from an outside post before, I play it.

With thoroughbreds at Saratoga, I don’t play the 1 post in turf sprints. Period. I’ve looked at the stats and they just don’t come in. However, if there’s a horse I like in the 2 or 3 post, once again, I go by the jockey’s stats. If he wins at least 15% of the time, I consider him a contender, but I still have to look at the horse’s stats and its early speed. If it doesn’t have any, I don’t play it. What I like to see in these inside posts is a horse that gets out well and runs in a middle lane, on or near the lead, and who has some closing kick as well.

If it has John Velasquez, one of the Ortizes or Javier Castellano on it, that doesn’t hurt. If it’s trained by Pletcher or Chad Brown or one of the other trainers who’s at the top of the Saratoga stats, that doesn’t hurt either. And if the horse has won at Saratoga before, I definitely consider it, because Saratoga is a unique track where the best horses are the ones who’ve proved that they can handle its quirks.

One of the few upsides of bad post position is that you can get some good prices on runners who are in bad posts, if the crowd realizes that the post positions are bad ones. You rarely see a horse go off at less than 5-2 in the 1 post in turf sprints at Saratoga, for instance. And the 8 horses at half-mile tracks don’t usually take a lot of betting action.

So, use your judgment and the other stats to decide whether a runner can overcome a poor post position and you might find yourself cashing a nice ticket on a contender that had what it takes to beat the odds.

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