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Winning At The Dog Track With The Big Picture


I used to know a guy who would come up to me before a race, run his finger down his program and say, "You know who's gonna win this race? I'll tell you who's gonna win this race." Then he'd pause and look serious and say, "The 3 is gonna win. He's a standout. A cinch. He's so much better than the other dogs, they shouldn't even be in the same race with him." And then he'd go away and do the same thing with someone else.

I probably don't have to tell you that his dogs almost never came in. That didn't stop him from using his handicapping method, which I call "handicapping in a vacuum", because he'd focus in on one dog and ignore the other 7, like it was the only dog in the race.

Sure, there are races where one dog stands out from the rest to the point where, at first glance, it looks - like the wiseguys say - as if he's the only dog in the race. But take a second look and in most races, it's not as simple as it seems to pick one standout dog. For one thing, no matter how good a dog looks in his 6 previous races, this is a whole 'nother race.

Maybe he has great times. Maybe he always breaks first and is almost always "first to turn" (if you're lucky enough to be able to tell that from your track's program), but that doesn't mean he'll break first or get to the turn first in this race. The track might be slower or wet or just raked. He might not like the box he's in. He might get blocked or shuffled back or cut off by another dog.

In every race, it's my firm opinion that you have to handicap every dog against every other dog, not just for how good it was in its last 6 races. You have to figure out how this race is going to be run for pace, for running style of each dog and for conflicts of running style between the dogs. This is why I handicap "backwards", so to speak, and try to eliminate at least half the dogs before I look for the strongest contender.

And, even then, I hardly ever play one dog to win. I almost always box four of them in a quiniela. If I'm ahead, I may get a little crazy and play them in a ten cent superfecta. About the only time I play a win bet is on one of the dogs that I follow closely and the older I get, the fewer of them I follow. It's just too much to keep track of.

So look at the big picture in every race and don't just focus on one dog, no matter how good it looks at first glance. Look again and make sure you don't overlook the other dogs. No matter how much better one dog looks than the others, when the boxes open, every one of those eight dogs will come out determined to "catch the bunny" and none of them is out of the question until the race is official.

By: Eb Netr

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