Thursday, July 14, 2011

Should You Avoid Puppy Races?

Handicapping With Eb Netr.......
Well, that depends. When I started going to the track, back in the 1970's, all the old-timers told me "M" or puppy races were impossible to figure out. "Puppies are inconsistent." They told me. "They're too unpredictable. You have to wait until they get up into "C" until you know if they're any good or not. Just watch the puppy races. Don't bet 'em."
So I watched them. After awhile, I realized that the old-timers were betting the heck out of the M and J races and cashing tickets too. It dawned on me that they didn't want me to bet because I'd be competition. After all, if you wait until a puppy has won in M and J before you bet it, you're not the only one who's noticed that it's a good dog, so you don't get good odds on it.

I started following the puppies, partly because I just like to watch them run. They're fresh and happy and give it all they've got, like most young athletes. But it wasn't long before I noticed a few things that had me cashing tickets right along with the ol' railbirds.
For one thing, puppies come in litters. When a dog runs in M, chances are it has at least a couple other littermates who will soon be running in M also. Find a good dog, look for its litter mates and bet them before the casual bettors realize that these dogs are going places. I've seen some litters that made me money in M and J and then turned out to be just average dogs. That's okay, though, because I made money on them before they faded.
Besides being from a good litter, there are some dogs who are just fast. When you look at an M or J race, it's always a good idea to consider the dog with the fastest time in its last race, when you're planning your bets. Of course, a lot of other bettors will be doing that too, but especially in puppy races, the old saying is true: Fast horses - and dogs - win races. I really pay attention when I see a dog who has consistently fast times in schooling races and then in its first real race. That tells me that this dog is a speedball, no matter who it's running against and if it doesn't get into trouble, it'll probably win.
Then there are the races where you look at the puppies and none of them looks that good. They're all slow out of the box, get into trouble with bumps and missed turns and have slow times. But then you look again and realize that one of them isn't as slow out of the box as you first thought and its slow times were all in slow races. Give that dog another look. If it gets out of the box before the rest of the pack, it has a good chance of winning, because it'll avoid trouble while the rest of the pack knock each other around.
There are other clues that puppies are worth betting on, but I'll save it for another article.
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