This Week With The Professor: Does Size Matter?

Does size matter when handicapping a greyhound race?

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Generally speaking, the size or gender of a greyhound is not a factor in handicapping a race. Unlike thoroughbred racing, the female greyhounds compete on an even footing with the males. There may be times when a smaller greyhound may find their chances compromised by having larger hounds pinning them in or pushing them out, but this is not common enough to be a major factor. It has long been a belief that the top sprinters are generally in the 65-80 pound range and that the top distance greyhounds are smaller.

There is some evidence that in high stakes competition you see females winning top distance races more frequently then sprints, but using it as a major handicapping factor can be tricky. One caveat is that some greyhounds are more nervous before the races and can lose considerable weight in the “lock out” kennels where the greyhounds are kept before racing. Sometimes, these hounds have a designation of WL (weight loser) after their name. These greyhounds will generally peform better in earlier races on the program, so keep an eye out for that.

Blog Spotlight: Gary Dura

You may have remembered reading a piece of his in our Inside Lure newsletter, or perhaps you’ve read his blog or listened to his podcast. Among other things, Telegraph Herald Copy Editor in the Features Department, Gary Dura provides great greyhound racing news and information for Iowa Greyhound Park. We recently spoke with Gary to find out his story and how he became interested in the greyhound racing industry.

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From the left: Gary Dura, Jarrod Dura, Justin Dura, Jason Dura and Mary Dura. Tyler Dura is the little guy in the front.

Dubuque, Iowa, is the only place Gary has called home, having lived there since he was born. Gary’s career at the Telegraph Herald began when he needed to pay for his college education. During this time, Gary answered calls and prepared the scoreboard page copy at the Telegraph Herald. Gary, however, didn’t stop there, moving his way up through the ranks until he became a full-time sports writer. He became a copy editor for news before moving on to features, which is what Gary currently does.

“Today, I coordinate editorial material for our business magazine, work on a couple of other monthly magazines, write and edit stories, edit, proof and design feature pages for the daily paper and special projects. I also blog and record a podcast about pari-mutuel racing, and participate in other podcasts, and other duties.”

Being in the sports industry, Gary became interested in greyhound racing when Dubuque Greyhound Track was opening in 1985.

“I had a chance to look at the program. All the names and numbers were fascinating. My boss explained some of the information. I became fascinated.”

From that moment, Gary became hooked on the greyhound racing industry. One of his favorite things about covering the sport is that everyone in the industry is truly friendly and genuine. Gary explains that being around everyone, you can tell that they all love the greyhounds.

Being interested in the dogs himself, it’s no surprise that Gary’s sons have also sparked interest in the sport. Gary would often take them to the track to watch the dogs. While they were at the track, Gary would show his sons how to read the racing program and would share handicapping tips with them. When his sons were older, they got a job at the track and have worked “nearly every job at the track.” Gary’s sons’ work experiences at the track have helped launch them into other careers as well.

“Our older two [sons] were state judges. This season, our youngest is in college and is a racing secretary. Our oldest is a state judge again this year. He also has a full-time job, which he got partly because of the workplace lessons he learned at the track. Our middle son’s job won’t allow him to work at the track. Again, his time at the track taught him valuable lessons about working with people.”

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P’s Rambling – photos provided by Greyhound Data.

Over the years, Gary has seen quite a bit of amazing greyhound races that all have been quite memorable. There are two greyhounds, however, that seem to stand out the most for Gary: P’s Rambling and AJ’s Callie. P’s Rambling, being quite exceptional, was the first pup that Gary followed.

“Rambling dominated the long course, setting a track record in 1986. He moved on to continued success at other tracks. I remember one race where he had trouble at the start and basically circled the field and won going away.”

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AJ’s Callie – photo provided by Gary Dura.

AJ’s Callie also has significance for Gary because she loved the sport and was always excited to race.

“She ran during a time when there were many great dogs at the track. Even if she didn’t draw her preferred box, she always gave it her all. I remember how friendly she was when I photographed her after winning the 2015 Iowa Breeders’ Cup.”

Some other greyhounds that have left a mark for Gary include Rock A By Msmolly, Superior Product, Ms Makenna, Slatex Elvis, RF River, Mystic Winds, Do Rocky Do, Sunset Swale, Fuel’s Stargazer, and Earl of Stafford.

Thinking about his favorite greyhounds, Gary also discussed his favorite greyhound racing memory. This, however, is not an easy decision to make because there are so many aspects that Gary has enjoyed and loved. One thing that always stands out for Gary, though, is the sounds of the spectators.

“The anticipation of the race, with the noise level slowly rising. Then, the dogs burst from the starting box and the cheering starts. As they circle the track, the noise builds, then reaches a crescendo at the finish line. Moments later, there are some cheers, and some words not fit for print, as the results are posted.”

We completely understand the amazing experience that Gary describes. Not much can beat the excitement, camaraderie, and fun that comes with watching a greyhound race.

We would like to thank Gary Dura for speaking with us about his experience with the greyhound racing industry. Be sure to tune into Gary’s Off The Track podcast and blog via The Telegraph Herald for greyhound racing news. One of our main goals is to promote the greyhound industry. Do you work in it or know someone who does? Would you be interested in being featured in our blog? Contact us at custserv@greyhoundchannel.com.

This Week With The Professor: Q & A

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Today we will attempt to answer a question sent to us by Donald S. He asked, ” If a dog shows early speed in route races and drops to sprints, is he a good bet for the sprint?”

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Excellent question. Generally, I would say no, but there are exceptions. The reason that trainers run greyhounds in longer distance races are because they are either good breakers but not fast enough to get clear in sprints, or they are slow out of the box and are finishing well in sprints. Unlike in horse racing, when a dog is finishing well, it is not because they are speeding up at the end of the race, they are just keeping up their speed during the race and not getting as tired as the other dogs. For that reason, if the greyhound is showing speed in a longer race, that does not usually mean that the dog will show enough speed in a sprint, against faster dogs, to get clear. They will have to outfinish the speed dogs to compete. This does not mean that they will not do that, but their front running style in the longer race, will be different in the sprint. Also, the reason the trainer is dropping the greyhound to the sprint is important. The dog may be tired and they are trying to freshen them up a bit. It may also be a tactic to get the dog lowered a grade, along with the rest, so that when they are put back into the longer races, they will be rested and lowered in grade, to get a win. The exception to the rule is if the trainer has put the greyhound in the longer distance for a few races, to stretch them out a bit, and then puts them back into a sprint. This may drop them in grade and then they have a good chance of running well when switched back to their normal distance.

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Thank you to Donald S. for this greyt question!

Do you have a question for The Professor? Leave a comment below and you could receive a $2 wagering credit to your Greyhound Channel account if your question is featured!

Blog Spotlight: NGA’s 2018 Spring Meet

The National Greyhound Association’s 2018 Spring Meet took place the last couple of weeks in Abilene, Kansas, where we co-sponsored race 38. Finishing, in order, in our race was: COBI’S SCREWBALL, CTW VIVA VESTA, COBI’S DERRINGER, SE’S JET POWER, SAMANTHA FOX, and KENNETH BIEHLE.

We were excited to hear that FLYING WOLF PACK was recognized at the Greyhound Hall of Fame on Thursday night, April 19th, for his excellent athleticism. FLYING WOLF PACK and his team received top honors for his NGA Rural Rube award win and earning the American Greyhound Track Operator’s Association’s (AGTOA) captain of the 2017 All-America Team.

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We would like to congratulate the winners of each race during the 2018 Spring Meet.

This Week With The Professor: Early Speed vs. Late Speed

Today, we will discuss the merits of playing early speed greyhounds or late speed greyhounds. My theory is always key early speed and use late speed in the legs. The reasoning behind this is simple: “Do I want my key dog to race trouble free, or have to negotiate through the pack to win?” To illustrate this, just look at the charts of any previous day’s races.

You will notice that the greyhound who leads after the first turn makes the Quinella 75% of the time, at least. Of course, there are exceptions, maybe a late speed dog is at big odds and has a good chance to benefit on the turn. In that case, the reward may be worth the risk. The trick is finding the fastest dog to the turn in a race, and that can only be done by watching the dogs consistently and comparing their performance against the competition and each other. The strategy of consistently keying late speed hounds is risky business and may not lead to financial success.

Do you have a question for The Professor? Leave a comment below and you could receive a $2 wagering credit to your Greyhound Channel account if your question is featured!

Blog Spotlight: Jeff Mergen

With the retirement of Iowa Greyhound Park announcer TC Christianson, the track needed to find another announcer to fill his shoes. That person will be Jeff Mergen, who had spent 20 years announcing greyhound races. We recently spoke with Jeff to talk about his time announcing as he looks forward to the new season at Iowa Greyhound Park.

In 1985, Jeff earned his broadcasting degree at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. A year later, while working as a weekend sports anchor at the KDUB-TV 40 station in Dubuque, Iowa, Jeff was told that the local track was looking for announcers. Interested, Jeff tried out for the position. The first night of Jeff showing them what he had for announcing the races, he had only one eye contact in, which made it difficult for him to clearly see the hounds. The next day, Jeff returned with both contacts in place and ready to roll. It was then that he was offered the job at Dubuque Greyhound Track where he worked through the 1988 season.

After Dubuque, Jeff began announcing for Geneva Lakes Greyhound Track in Delavan, Wisconsin, for 15 years, till its closure in 2005. While at Geneva Lakes, Jeff also produced and hosted the “Geneva Lakes Racing Report” television show, showcasing the best races from each week. In 2007, Jeff went to Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to announce till the track closed a few years later in 2009. That was the last time Jeff officially called a race, but he is very excited to return to an announcing gig.

During the years that Jeff announced, he remembers some amazing standout athletes such as P’s Rambling who started at Dubuque before moving to Hollywood where he won the 1987 Flashy Sir award and was on the 1987 All-America Team. His impressive resume also includes a 15 win streak, record price in 1986, and the winner of the 1987 Hollywoodian. Another standout of Jeff’s was Klemma from Geneva Lakes Greyhound Track who won the 1990 Geneva Lakes Derby and 1991 Old Style Distance Countdown. Klemma also set the 3/8ths track record in 1991.

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P’s Rambling. Photos provided by Greyhound Data.

Though Jeff hasn’t officially announced a race in nearly ten years, he has hosted the Night at the Track event in Bristol, Wisconsin, which took place this year on March 3rd. At the event, visitors watched the Naples-Fort Myers Derby races while Jeff called them off the TV, which wasn’t easy or ideal, but it certainly got the audience excited. For Jeff, announcing the races was a seamless transition, as if his absence from announcing had never happened. This last event was perfect for getting Jeff ready for the new season at Iowa.

Jeff can’t wait to jump in and fill the spot that TC had held for so long. To become familiar with the greyhounds, Jeff plans to go over the entire list of hounds set to race at Iowa Greyhound Park. One of the things that Jeff truly loves about announcing races is how it is challenging, but also tons of fun. Despite announcing for so many years, Jeff is still always trying to improve.

“The only thing I have control over is my announcing getting better and improving. Doesn’t matter that I’ve done it for 20 years. You still have to improve and take that view point of always trying to get better, and that’s what I’m trying to do”

What a great perspective to have! We can’t wait to hear Jeff announce during the live season at Iowa Greyhound Park, beginning May 19th and continuing through November 4th. Live racing will take place on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 6:30 PM Eastern and Sunday at 2:00 PM Eastern. Make sure to tune in for exciting greyhound racing action and great announcing by Jeff.

We would like to thank Jeff Mergen for speaking with us about his time announcing greyhound races. One of our main goals is to promote the greyhound industry. Do you work in it or know someone who does? Would you be interested in being featured in our blog? Contact us at custserv@greyhoundchannel.com.

This Week With The Professor: Track Bias

Today, we will discuss “track bias.” Track bias consists mainly of two factors, both relating to the condition of the race track surface, or the configuration of the track itself. The first bias is whether the track is favoring early speed or finishers. This condition may be a consistent bias or one that fluctuates from day to day. Tracks that have a long stretch or a sprint that is longer than the normal sprint distance of 5/16 of a mile may have a tendency to favor the finishers, whereas a track that has a shorter than normal sprint or has a shorter stretch may favor early speedsters.

The other bias is whether the track favors inside or wide runners. This bias generally fluctuates from day to day and if you can decipher the bias early it can be a big advantage when wagering. To sum up, when handicapping a race, use the biases to help you gain an advantage over the other players who are not paying attention to this important factor.

Do you have a question for The Professor? Leave a comment below and you could receive a $2 wagering credit to your Greyhound Channel account if your question is featured!

Blog Spotlight: TC Christianson

“They are rocking out of the box” is one of the coined phrases that many have come to love from Iowa Greyhound Park’s previous announcer, TC Christianson. Hearing about TC’s retirement, we recently spoke with him to talk about his career in announcing and his retirement after 21 years in the industry.

Since he was a kid, TC Christianson knew he wanted a hand in some sort of announcing. Wanting to be a radio DJ, he got his first gig in the radio industry in 1969. On the air till 2002, TC did TV and radio for Mystique casino, Dubuque Greyhound Park, and the Iowa Greyhound Association. TC also took up announcing the greyhound races, which he had been doing for a little over 20 years.

Loving announcing and the greyhound racing community at the track, TC had truly enjoyed his job. So much so that TC worked at the casino during the greyhound racing offseason.

“Some people say, ‘Oh man, I have to go to work.’ I never said that once in my life because I always truly enjoyed going to work. I would be early, hanging around with the fellow employees”

Listening to TC speak so highly of his coworkers, you get a sense that the track is like a second family for him. Though he has loved announcing and working for the track, TC’s decision to retire was decided upon because he wanted to be more present with his actual family, spending more time with his wife, three kids, and seven grandchildren.

Spending 21 years at a single job is a long time and it takes a special job for you to want to stay that long. That special job was definitely something TC found in greyhound announcing. TC is a people person and loved being around crowds and fellow employees at the track and casino. When thinking about the next announcer to fill his big shoes, TC mentions that they should enjoy themselves and have fun. Having enthusiasm and having fun while announcing expands to the patrons, providing them with an extra sense of fun and excitement.

This is one of the many things that customers enjoyed, as TC would walk around and talk with them, making their connection more personable. His enthusiasm when announcing was also prevalent when listening to his races. TC would enjoy announcing Iowa’s biggest stakes races each year with the Iowa Bred Feature that included the Secretary’s choice, Iowa Breeders’ Cup and consolation, as well as the Au Revoir; however, TC enjoyed the regular races just as much as the stakes races. He loved every race because he would see awesome runs by amazing greyhounds in all sorts of grades, including the maiden races. This enjoyment and excitement for every race came through in his announcing style.

“I’ve always admired many things about TC’s race calls. Here are two that I believe sums up his efforts. First, he makes a point to make every effort to name every dog at least once during a race. That puts a name to a number, and it’s difficult to do with the speed of the greyhounds. Second, it didn’t matter what grade of race; TC called each with excitement. Unless you looked at the program, you couldn’t tell the difference between a Maiden race and a stakes final. Each received a top grade call by TC.” – Gary Dura, writer and editor for the Telegraph Herald.

TC also mentioned that having coined phrases to refer to is always enjoyed by viewers. Sometimes, patrons and coworkers would call out their favorites to TC when they would see him.

“I will miss some of his colorful comments like, ‘They are rocking out of the box’ or ‘Julien is doing the electric slide.’ TC and I have been working together for 21 years. He has been a great employee and I wish him all the good luck in his retirement.” – Brian Carpenter, Iowa Greyhound Park Director of Racing/General Manager

Though TC is retiring from greyhound announcing at Iowa Greyhound Park, he will continue his radio program, Saturday Night Cruise, that he DJs every Saturday night, so fans will still be able to catch a bit of TC on the weekends. TC’s greyhound announcing at Iowa Greyhound Park will be greatly missed, but we wish him all the best as he enjoys retirement life.

We would like to thank TC Christianson for taking the time to speak with us about his time as a greyhound racing announcer. Catch TC on AM radio at 1370 KDTH every Saturday night from 7 PM to Midnight with Saturday Night Cruise. He’ll be taking your requests and playing the greatest hits from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Not in the area? You can listen live here. One of our main goals is to promote the greyhound industry. Do you work in it or know someone who does? Would you be interested in being featured in our blog? Contact us at custserv@greyhoundchannel.com.

This Week With The Professor: Q & A

Today, we will attempt to answer a question sent to us by Hank P. Hank asked, “Besides greyhound racing being fun and entertaining, have you, or anyone you know, ever made a real living from wagering on the greyhounds? Most of us as bettors have hit nice payoffs at times but to be consistent at it is difficult because of the unpredictability of the racers. With so many handicapping methods, many of which you cover in your posts, it’s still difficult to be spot on most of the time. I find it hard to believe someone when they tell me that they always win on the races and make a big profit. They must be wizards at money management wouldn’t you say?”
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There was a time many years ago, that I was able to make a living wagering on the greyhounds. That was a different time, however, when exotics such as trifectas and superfectas were in their infancy, and knowing how to play them was a big advantage. Another factor was that there was no simulcasting or video lottery games on every corner, so those pools were much larger. I was able to make enough during the five months or so that my home track was running to start a greyhound farm and buy a few racers. This led to my brother and me starting a racing kennel of our own, which we ran for many years at various tracks across the country.

I would find it very difficult to make a living betting on greyhounds in this day and time, but I believe that making a profit is still possible. I know a few people who still make money consistently. Money management and discipline are very important factors for those who turn a profit on a consistent basis. That being said, playing the hounds can be fun and entertaining for many people, regardless of whether or not you always win. My goal in writing these articles is to give people as much information and as many tips as I can to give people an edge on the competition.

Thank you, Hank P., for the greyt question!
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Do you have a question for The Professor? Leave a comment below and you could receive a $2 wagering credit to your Greyhound Channel account if your question is featured!

Blog Spotlight: Retirement Party Held for Kinda Cruel Red by Stan Pawloski

Kinda Cruel Red had a spectacular two years of racing at Wheeling Island in 2016-17.

The All-American sprinter, who was retired in December 2017, was recognized with a retirement party in early March at the Wheeling racetrack. Kinda Cruel Red mingled with his fans and the celebration included cupcakes and a T-shirt giveaway.

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Owned by Monte Jacobs of Kansas, Kinda Cruel Red raced out of the Jacobs Racing Kennel at Wheeling and was trained by Louise Strong.

“He (Kinda Cruel Red) loved every minute of it. He loves being around people,” Jacobs said. “I think the fans had a good time too meeting Perry (Kinda Cruel Red’s kennel name). I would like to thank Wheeling Island for having the retirement celebration for him.”

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The All-American sprinter makes friends with Cathy and Rick Cicero, right, of Portage, PA. Standing from left: Alisha Nichols, Sue Jacobs (Kinda Cruel Red’s owner Monte Jacobs’ mother), and trainer Louise Strong.

Kinda Cruel Red had a banner year at Wheeling Island in 2016 after arriving from Palm Beach in May. In 38 Wheeling starts, the sprinter had 20 wins, 7 seconds, 4 thirds, and 1 fourth.

He had a 6-race and a 3-race win streak, captured 52 percent of his races, and hit the trifecta ticket in 81 percent of his starts. At Palm Beach, Kinda Cruel Red had 7 wins, 3 seconds, 2 thirds, and 2 fourths in 17 trips.

In January 2017, Kinda Cruel Red was runner up by a length to Oaks Maddy in the Daytona 550 national invitational stakes in Florida.

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Surrounding the All-American sprinter are, from left, kennel team members Josh Edwards, Alisha Nichols, Dean Ellis, trainer Louise Strong, Chris Perry, owner Monte Jacobs, and assistant racing secretary Lacee Kunik.

After coming back to Wheeling, Kinda Cruel Red had 16 wins, 9 seconds, 6 thirds, and 2 fourths in 43 starts in 2017.

Kinda Cruel Red’s career numbers are mind-boggling – he captured 47 percent of his lifetime starts (51 wins out of 107 races) and hit the pay sheet in a stunning 83 percent of his trips (51 wins, 20 seconds, 13 third and 6 fourths).