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How to Find “No Shows”
Winning at the Dog Track
by Bill McBride

Many winners at the dog tracks wager into trifecta pools, selecting dogs most likely to win, place and show. These successful bettors focus on one strong selection to bet into the win position.

If they were to bet that one dog with all of the others in second and third, they would be making a wheel wager. At a $1 level, this would cost $42. They will seldom do this. Instead, they eliminate some dogs from place or show. For example, a partial wheel wager, with three dogs in place position and five dogs in show position (1/234/23456), would cost only $12.

Skill in identifying dogs with little chance of coming in second or third is well worth developing. This is particularly true when more than one selection is in the win position. For example, a 123/All/All trifecta ($1) wager would cost $126. Many trifectas return less than that on a $1 wager, but if the bettor can eliminate three dogs from place, and two dogs from show (123/12345/123456), the cost would be only $48.

It’s been said that “even a three-legged dog can stumble in to show” and sometimes that’s almost true! It’s harder to sort out dogs from the show position than from place or win. But, with practice, the astute handicapper finds circumstances in which it can be done with reasonable confidence. There are no sets of rules for this, as factors vary at different tracks and in various grades. It proves less difficult in the higher grades, at “better” tracks, and sometimes on longer courses. Sorting out the losers can be almost as profitable as picking the winners! The following are some criteria to look for, to spot potential throw-outs:

• If large differences exist in the projected speed capabilities of dogs the slower ones can sometimes be eliminated. Be careful, however, of the tendency to make mountains out of molehills when only tiny differences exist.
• Dogs whose past performance lines show a tendency to break slowly and who are in the race with sharply faster dogs who break better, have little chance to finish in the money.
• In most grades, there are high and low levels. A Grade B race might be a Top B or a Bottom B. You can determine this with practice. When a dog that has not been doing particularly well in a certain grade eventually lucks into a win it will then race in the next higher grade. If that next race is the bottom of the new grade, this lucky dog might have a chance of stumbling into the money again. However, if the race is top of the grade, the dog can usually be eliminated from contention.
• A dog failing to finish in the money in three or four races is lowered in grade. If it happens to be running in Grade D races, it is graded out and will not be allowed to race at the track for the balance of the season. However, the dog could be moved to another track (a shipper). Certain tracks tend to run better quality dogs than others and if a graded out dog is moved to a “better” track, its odds of finishing in the money are slim.
• Greyhounds are usually raced until age 41/2 or 5 if they are doing well. Performance falls off rather sharply over that age. Older dogs contending against younger dogs that are faster, especially if poorly positioned, will usually have little chance of showing, particularly in the higher grades. The exception would be on a muddy track, when race times will be slower, and “old timers” may do better.
• In some grades and tracks, certain starting box positions will be noticeably hotter or colder (often, two or three of the middle boxes). A dog judged to be mediocre, and not a particularly good breaker, starting from one of these cold boxes will likely not do well unless it is a very strong closer and the other seven dogs are faders.

Watch for factors like these at your track, and spend time developing your skill at identifying these non-contenders. It can pay big dividends!

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