There’s a lot of buzz around speed handicapping nowadays. But before we get into how to use speed to pick longshot winners, let’s make sure that we’re on the same page with the term. Here’s how I find and compare speed when I handicap greyhound races. First of all, I look at the type of speed each dog has.
Very Early Speed dogs are the ones who burst out of the box and immediately take the lead and keep it through the 1/8th call. These dogs are a good bet, because they’re out in front, away from the bumping and blocking that can impede a dog’s progress, especially on the turns. They’re essentially running their own race with no one to hamper them, unless they trip or fly the turn.
Then there are the Early Speed dogs who aren’t first out of the box, but are in the lead at the 1/8th call and accelerate as they go into the stretch. Many of these dogs are very good at snaking through the other dogs right after the break. However, because they’re not all alone out in front like the very early speed dogs, they can still get into trouble on the turns and even on the straightaways if another dog catches up with them.
It’s easy to spot a Very Early Speed dog, because they’ll have a “1” in almost every race for the Break call. My friend, Lou, used to call them “shot from guns” dogs, because they just about explode out of the box like they’d been fired from a cannon.
To me, it seems like their momentum from the fast break carries them right past the other dogs who got out more slowly. Unless they stumble, they’ll at least start the race out in front. The trick in handicapping these dogs is to figure out if their Very Early Speed will be enough to overcome any significant other factors in the race.
This is where you have to know the secret of speed handicapping, which is that you can’t just compare speed between the dogs. Even using mathematical formulas, there’s no way to use pure speed, alone, to predict which dog will win a race. The only way to use speed handicapping is in conjunction with a thorough comparison of the other factors that determine a race’s outcome.
Post position, class, consistency, track bias… All of these things must be taken into consideration as you look at the Very Early Speed and Early Speed dogs in a race. Sure, early speed is usually an advantage, but only if the Very Early Speed and Early Speed dog is in the right post position to get out of the box and/or accelerate without getting into trouble.
Speed is also strongly affected by class. A Very Early Speed Dog that has all “1’s” for its break calls in Grade B, won’t necessarily outbreak seasoned Grade A dogs, some of whom have run in Stakes races. An Early Speed dog that gets into trouble trying to weave its way through the pack in Grade A, may do just fine in Grade B or C.
So, how do you use this speed handicapping information to pick winning longshots? Simply put, you use it to determine TRUE EARLY SPEED. True Early Speed is a combination of Speed, Post Position, Class, Consistency and Track Bias. If you handicap using all these factors, you’ll be able to tell whether a dog with Very Early Speed or Early Speed is really a good bet.
Most people who depend on early speed to handicap, never look beyond the numbers in the columns under Break or 1/8th call. If they see that the dog is almost always first out of the box, they mark it as an Early Speed dog and make it a favorite. You on the other hand, will have also taken into consideration the other factors that influence who wins the race.
You’ll know when a dog is in over its head, even though it looks like a good bet. You will also know when a dog who doesn’t burst out of the box, but does a good job of sliding through the other dogs to be first or second at the 1/8th call, is a good bet even though it’s at long odds. If you always include the other important factors when you handicap for early speed, my friend, will have learned the “secret to speed handicapping” that picks longshot winners.