Monday, January 3, 2011

Bad Bill On Handicapping The Hounds


By "Bad Bill” McBride

Look at a few pages in a greyhound race program, and you will see plenty of data to “handicap” with.
Noting at the Past Performance Lines, (PPLs), of each of the dogs’ recent races, you’ll have lots of
factors to compare.
Keep this in mind: greyhound handicapping is mostly a matter of using “history” to predict the future.
You will be comparing how each dog has been doing with how each of the other 7 dogs have been
doing, and you will try to project those differences into the most probable outcome of the race at hand.
Of course, once you have done so, you remain with the task of engineering your most opportune type of
wager, but that is another topic.

Different fans use different criteria in their handicapping. Some will focus on “SPEED”, measuring the
actual race times each dog has been having in recent races. Others will use other factors. What I most
want to get across to you here is that you should listen to NO ONE who proposes to tell you which
factors are the most and least pertinent. You have to work that out for yourself, grade by grade, course
by course, and track by track.
You will have over 17 “measurable” factors to consider. In the end, for a certain grade at a certain track,
you may well find that you only need to spend the time measuring as few as 3 or 4 of these 17 factors.
But WHICH 3 or 4? Be advised that your handicapping will not get sharper if you use all 17 factors on
each and every race! OVER-handicapping is a very serious mistake.
At Grade “C”, on the 5/16 mile course at your favorite track, is computed SPEED the most overriding
factor? Or is it the ability to break quickly from the starting box? Or the dog’s comparative
maneuvering ability in the first turn? Or is it LATE SPEED? Or factors involving the dogs moving up
or down in grade? Or dollars earned per start? Or the draw of the starting box position? Or which of the
other comparable factors? If you were going to award 100 “points” to your strongest selection, and -100
points to the worst, how many points would you award for each of these factors? Would it be 60 points
for the “fastest” dog, (SPEED), and 10 points for the dog with the best closing (LATE) speed? Or vice
versa? Would you allot 25 points for the dog trained by the track’s leading trainer, or give that factor
more or fewer points?
Would you like me to provide all of this data for you? I can’t, except for the few tracks I specialize on,
and the data would be different for most of the grades and course lengths. If you want to win at the dog
track, you’ll have to work this out for yourself, grade by grade, track by track.
How do you do this? There are no magic shortcuts. You’ve gotta handicap a number of races, of each
grade, then measure how strong each of the handicapping factors played out in the results. You needn’t
be a math major or a rocket scientist to do this, but you do need to be able to work with data, and have
some patience. The profits go to those who have done the most homework!

For more insights into greyhound racing, see my

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