By Eb Netr
In my opinion, route races can give you the best return for your handicapping buck. While there aren't as many of them as there are sprint races, this isn't necessarily a disadvantage. Most bettors tend to treat them the same way as sprints, and handicap them that way. While there are some bettors who just skip them and turn the page to the next 5/16ths distance race.
I love the longer races. From 3/8ths all the way up to the marathon length races, I've found value galore. Of course, there are a few things that you have to keep in mind when you're handicapping this length race. For one thing, early speed, while it is still important, isn't the huge factor that it is in shorter races. There's more time for closers to get in at the wire. There's more room for dogs to maneuver and get the position they need to win, and this can mean that dogs that get into trouble in sprints, manage to avoid it and hit the board in longer races.
Another reason that I love routes is that, because there ARE fewer of them, it's easier to follow the dogs who are true routers. At some points in my handicapping life, I've actually saved every 3/8ths mile race page, stapled them together and referred to them when I handicap each program. It's pretty easy to see who's moving up or down in grade, and who can beat who. After all, many of the same dogs compete against each other, race after race.
Of course, there are some dogs, although not that many, who seem to be able to move between short and long races with no problem. These are the dogs you should keep a list of, because people forget that these dogs are multi-talented. They see that a dog has been running in sprints and now it's in a route and they can't see that it's ever won at the longer distance, so they don't play it.
But if you've done your homework, and know that this dog has won at this distance in the past, you're way ahead of the casual player, who only knows what the last six races in the program tell him. This is why it's good to make notes about the dogs and review them every so often. Things change and you have to keep reviewing the results and the dogs that are in different stages of their careers so that you're on top of the changes.
So, if you've never been a fan of the distance races, maybe you should take a second look. Consider following them for a while and see how you do. Look at the top dogs for this type of race in the stats and also notice which kennels have the best dogs for them. Some kennels seem to specialize in dogs who can win at the longer distances. After all, anything that can give you an edge over the crowd is a plus, and specializing in one type of race to the point where you know it in-depth gives you a huge advantage over the people who don't even try to figure it out.
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