Greyhound Handicapping After the Stakes Races
We've enjoyed a long string of stakes races at several greyhound tracks over the summer and fall seasons. From Southland's Spring Futurity in May to their Festival of Stakes, Palm Beach's Arthur J Rooney in March to the Puppy Stakes in September, Bluffs Run's Team Survivor in April to the Breeder's Classic in November, Dubuque, Wheeling and Orange Park... It seemed like there was always a stakes race running at some track or other.
Now, the season gets a little quieter as the winter months approach, but there's still a way to profit from the stakes races, even when there aren't any running. If that sounds like a contradiction, let me tell you how I make money from the stakes, even when they're over.
Most of the dogs that run in stakes races come from the top ranks at their tracks. Yes, sometimes, at some tracks, in some stakes, especially those with young dogs and puppies, the racing secretary reaches down into the B and C grades for entries.
Sometimes, there just aren't enough dogs in the top grade for the number of qualifying races that a stakes demands. So, dogs that are marginal or not quite up to top grade speed or class are drafted. And, sometimes, these dogs outdo their previous records and manage to beat dogs that are above them in class. I've seen it happen more than once.
It's as if, when they're matched against the best dogs at the track, it brings out the best in them too. They exceed what they've done in the past and, usually, continue to do that, so that they stay in a higher grade than they were in before the stakes races.
I always make a note of these dogs and look for them in future races. When people see that they were lower grade dogs before the stakes races, they often dismiss their stakes success as a fluke and don't play them when they run in Grade A. I've cashed quite a few tickets on dogs like these.
Another way to profit from stakes, after the stakes races have run, is with dogs that didn't make the grade in stakes races, but ran against dogs that did. For instance, imagine that a dog ran against SH Avatar, winner of the Iowa Breeder's Stakes Classic just recently. Even though that dog didn't beat SH Avatar, it certainly had some competition in that race.
Put that dog in a Grade A race with dogs that DIDN'T run in stakes races, and it might just wire the field. Exposure to faster races with a better class of dog can make a big difference in a dog's performance. To find these dogs, just look at the dogs they ran with in their last few races. Look for stakes races with "S" before the grade.
I really like to find dogs that ran fourth to a stakes race winner or within a couple of lengths of one. These are the dogs that ran their hearts out in those races, and they'll do the same in Grade A next time out. Greyhounds don't know what grade they're in and they don't know a stakes race from a schooling race. They'll run as fast as they need to in order to beat the other dogs to the lure, no matter what grade they're in.
If they're in a stakes race, the other dogs will be faster than usual, so they'll run faster than they usually do, if they can. And, many times, they'll carry that energy over into the next race they run, expecting it to be another fast one. If you can catch one of these dogs in a Grade A race, you can often get a good price on it, because most of the bettors just see that it lost in the stakes race and consider it a loser.
I consider these dogs contenders, because they came CLOSE to beating a stakes winner. I play them to win and place and also as exacta and trifecta keys. Maybe this time out, without the stakes winner to contend with, close will turn into close enough and I'll get a nice little windfall.