How to Handicap 550-Yard Greyhound Races

By John Lindell

The vast majority of races held at parimutuel greyhound dog tracks cover a distance of 550 yards. Handicapping these races correctly is the difference between an evening out with nothing to show for it and a tidy profit at night's end. Handicapping 550-yard greyhound races won't be as hard as you might think if you follow the steps listed here.

Decide which greyhound is going to the first turn with the lead, then eliminate the other dogs that need to be in front as possible winners. In every 550-yard race, there is a mix of early and late speed greyhounds. Handicapping the leader to the first corner is the most important thing you can do. Once you have looked at the early speed indicators, such as box speed and ability in rushing to the turn, you can make a well-educated decision about which canine is going to be the leader. This in turn allows you to cross a few dogs off that absolutely need to be in front to hold on.

Understand that you must be confident the greyhound you have selected as first to the turn can hold on for the victory. If you think it can, you must figure out which dogs are going to finish behind it. Look for dogs that show late foot and come charging in the latter stages of the race from far back. They often can be used to complete trifecta and superfecta wagers, since they can easily garner a third or a fourth. Quiniela players, looking for a dog to run second for their bet to be successful, need to choose between the closing greyhound and the quick-starting one that may hang on for the place spot.

If you have handicapped a racer to lead the 550-yard contest but do not feel it has quite the staying power to emerge a winner, pick the greyhound you think can catch it. In these 5/16-mile events, there is enough time for dogs to make up ground if they get a fairly clean run. Look for dogs that can make the first turn in the middle of the pack and then close up. These animals often get into position to make a run at the frontrunners late and grab a triumph.

Recognize that lots of early speed means lots of possible bumping and collisions at the first turn. Although you cannot handicap greyhounds' bad luck, you can expect it when a field has a high number of early speed flashers. If you can correctly choose the dog that is in front of this sort of trouble, you can make some eye-opening scores. When several early speed dogs are drawn in together in a 550-yard race, box position is incredibly important. If a dog that has speed to the turn but is a poor breaker draws a six box, for instance, it is at a distinct disadvantage in a speed-filled race. The greyhounds occupying the one and eight boxes need to be considered carefully, as they do not have any dogs on one side of them. An alert break from them could put them ahead of any spills and blocking at the first turn.

Be aware of track conditions. In the pouring rain, it is rare to see dogs make up lots of ground in a 550-yard race. The leaders are running unfettered by mud in the face and splashing. The footing is not as good as when the track is dry. Remember that a very fast track, which usually occurs after a rain, also favors the early speedsters, as they can go out to bigger leads. Many tracks favor dogs that run on the wider parts of the oval, as the inside of the racing surface is more dug up at some venues, and is a harder environment in which to gain speed.

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