Thursday, August 18, 2011

How Important is Time?

Winning With Eb Netr..........
As the song goes, "Fast horses win races" and so do fast dogs. So maybe we're all over-complicating this handicapping thing. Maybe we should just go to the dog track, pick the fastest dog in each race and play it to win. Many people do just that, but I don't think you'll find them cashing a whole lot of winning tickets.
And the ones they do cash probably won't pay diddly, because time is pretty obvious. Even greyhound handicapping newbies know how to find the time of the last race for each dog. It's right there in the program next to their final position in their last race.

In some races, there's one dog who had a very fast time in its last race, compared to the dogs he's running against today. Lots of bettors will notice it and play the dog and then be surprised when he doesn't beat the pants off the other dogs or have as fast a time as he did in his last race. But to seasoned veterans of the dog track, it's not surprising. They know that time isn't an isolated factor in greyhound handicapping.
Time is relative. You don't have to be an Einstein to figure that out. Consider how fast the average person can run on different surfaces, on different days and against other runners. Compare the hard surface of a tar road or running track to the soft, deep sand of a beach.
Think about the difference between how well you do when you're having a day where your mood and your body are at their best. Then think of how hard it is to get going when you're tired and stiff and worried or coming down with a cold.
And consider the people you know and think about whether you could beat them in a race. You might be able to beat Aunt Mabel and her wheeled walker, but what about your 18 yr old nephew who's suddenly discovered that he can run like the wind if he puts his mind and heart into it?
It's the same with dogs. Every time they go out onto the track, there are several variables that affect how fast they'll run in that race. The most important is probably their condition. Are they in top form? Did they get a good night's sleep? Are they coming down with anything? Did they just get wormed? Any and all of these things affect them and will determine whether they give it their best or just put in a dull effort.
Short of working at a kennel or owning a dog so you can sit with the "dog men and women" and get all the latest info on what shape their dogs are in, which I've done in the past, there's just no way for the average bettor to know what condition a dog is in. That's why time isn't what you should base your handicapping on.
When I handicap a race, I look at the dogs' times, of course, but I don't give it a lot of weight. I have no way of knowing what condition the track was in when they had a good time or a bad time or whether conditions will be right today for them to repeat that fast time. So, I handicap in my usual way, taking into account class, post position, how the dogs will affect each other's running style and what I think the pace of the race will be.
There are only a couple of situations where I consider time to be of the most importance, but I'll leave that for another post. For now, let's just say that in 99% of races the only time that's important is the time on the board at the end of the race when your picks cross the wire ahead of all the other dogs.
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