Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Track Conditions in Your Handicapping.

Win With Eb...

Handicapping is an art, not a science. Never is this more obvious than when the weather affects the track and we have to figure out how it will affect the dogs we like. When the weather is sunny and warm and there's been enough rain in the last few days, the track will most probably be rated as "Fast" and its surface condition won't affect the running of the race that much.

But when it rains, or when it's snowy, dry or very windy - what then? Rain is tricky. If it just rains a little - like it does in Florida's afternoon showers - it might speed up the times a little, but have little effect otherwise. But when it rains heavily over a period of days, or when there's a very heavy shower before or during racing, it's a different story.

On most tracks, heavy rain really affects dogs that run the rail, because that's where the water pools up. That's when I look at mid-track runners. And if it's really, really pouring down, I even look at dogs that run wide and outside, because that's sometimes the fastest part of the track in these conditions. I also like dogs that get out early, because they aren't getting spattered with mud from the other greyhounds.

In colder weather though, I like closers, especially if there's a cold rain and a lot of wind. Breakers tend to fade in weather like this, while the closers, who have more stamina, can hang in there to close at the wire. When times are slow, watch for the dogs who have stamina but lack early speed to finally have enough time to jockey for position and do better than they do when the pace of the race is too fast for them.

When you're playing simulcast races, don't forget to watch the first race and pay attention to both the weather forecast and to what you can see of the track. Note the time of the first race and compare it to recent times for that grade at that track. If it's faster or slower than normal, keep that in mind when you handicap. Faster times favor early speed and slower times usually favor closers, in my experience. Paying close attention to the weather and to the current conditions at the track you're playing is one way to improve your chances of making money at the dog track.

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