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).

Blog Spotlight: Flying Wolf Pack and Magnetic Drive Tabbed for NGA Awards by Jim Gartland

A Southland sprinter and a distance specialist from Naples have picked up the NGA’s annual Awards; Flying Wolf Pack winning the 47th Annual NGA Rural Rube Award as the nation’s top sprinter for 2017, and Magnetic Drive capturing the Flashy Sir Award as the best distance greyhound in the land. Wolf Pack easily outdistanced all vote getters for the Rural Rube and Magnetic Drive edged out Janice Dean for the Flashy Sir in this year’s voting.

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Flying Wolf Pack winning the 2017 Festival of Stakes’ Darby Henry Male Sprint

A 2014 son of Flying Lone Wolf-PJ Aces Up, Wolf Pack captured three stake races and made the final of another on his way to winning 30 races and capturing the win title at Southland for the year. He also put together a 10 race win streak against the best in the country and was easily tabbed as the best sprinter in the land. He was also voted Captain of the All American by the AGTOA.

Owned by Vince Berland and racing for the Lester Raines Kennel, Wolf Pack started the year on a slow note winning just twice in his first 12 starts. As stake action picked up however, he put it in gear in time to capture the Hound Madness Championship in March. Next up was the Southland Sprint. After impressive qualifying wins, he was bumped at the break and ran 4th in the final to eventual winner, Bar Gin. After a couple more rough trips and a brief layoff, Wolf Pack came back with a vengeance, reeling off ten straight wins including a victory in the Best of the Best Series. He had two wins in stakes qualifying on his way to a game win in the $150,000 Darby Henry Male Sprint during the Southland Festival of Stakes. He finished out 2017 with 5 more wins giving him 30 for the year. His final stat line for the year was 61-30-9-7-5, almost a 50% win clip. A well deserved award and congratulations to Vince, Raines Kennel and all the connections of Flying Wolf Pack!

Runner-up in the Rural Rube voting was Randy Toler’s RT’s Bo Jangles who raced for Cal Holland at Derby Lane. This son of Kiowa Mon Manny-Penrose Karrie captured the National win title this past year after winning 45 races at the St. Pete oval. He also picked up a couple of stake wins and was named to the All American team as well. He compiled an amazing 71-45-12-4-4 record over the course of 2017 and most likely would have been a shoe in for the Rural Rube in any other year.

Others high in the voting for the Rural Rube were Bob Hardison’s Konomi, Anthony Napolitano’s Janice Dean, John & Bob Hardison’s Bar Gin and Jon Stidham’s JD Implosion.

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Magnetic Drive winning the 2017 Marathon Championship at Naples-Fort Myers

Voting was much closer in the Flashy Sir contest. In a very competitive race, six greyhounds received double digit votes and were separated by only six votes in total. In the end Magnetic Drive won out over Janice Dean, Flyin Honor Code, Raiders Bacardi, Red Handed and Ethanol, in that order.

Magnetic Drive is a white and red son of Flying Westover-Johara and is owned by Anthony Napolitano, Jr. His dam, Johara, finished 4th in the final 2017 Dam Standings. He raced for the Brindle Kennel at Naples for the majority of the year. His 2017 campaign at Naples was nothing short of extraordinary. He was dubbed the “Phenom” by the Naples chartwriter based on his many unbelievable performances. His credentials for the year read as follows: Naples Marathon Champion, 2nd in the Naples Derby to Fire Blitzen, track win leader, fastest 3/8ths time of year, fastest marathon time of the year, and AGTOA All American. Overall 2017 record – 47-32-6-1-2.

He began the year on a good note winning his first start on January 1st. From there he would pick up 13 more wins in 18 starts including winning all qualifying rounds heading into the Naples Derby. In the final he lost to Fire Blitzen by a length and a half in a tough, tough race. With the Derby over, he would switch to the 7/16 distance and after a 2nd place finish in his first effort, the “Phenom” would reel off six wins in a row including a victory in the Naples Marathon Championship. During qualifying he ripped off the season’s fastest time for the distance of 42.65.

After winning the Marathon stake he switched back to 3/8ths and would win 10 of his next 12 outings, finishing 2nd and 3rd in the other two. Several of those wins would be by double digit margins including a 10 length win on April 26 run in a time of 38.11, the fastest time for that distance at Naples for the year. Earlier in the season he had won a race by 13 lengths in a time of 38.12, which was the best 3/8ths time until his performance in April. Over the first 5 months of the year he would have win streaks of 6, 4, 6 and 7 at one time or another.

A minor injury required a 3 month layoff and in September he moved on to Flagler, schooling in and winning a couple sprint races before heading to Southland to meet up with the “big boys”. He won his first start at Southland but has since struggled somewhat and is looking to return to his winning form. He won a total of 32 races for the year which is a great feat considering he missed 3 months of year recuperating. Congratulations to Mr. Napolitano, Brindle Kennel and all the connections of Magnetic Drive!

The 47th Annual NGA Rural Rube and Flashy Sir awards will be presented at the awards ceremonies program at the Greyhound Hall of Fame on Thursday night, Apr. 19, during the NGA Spring Meet.

View original article via the NGA.

This Week With The Professor: Double Grade Drops

Are double grade drops good bets?
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Probably not, with a couple of exceptions. The reason the greyhound is dropping is because he or she is off form because of old age, fatigue, or minor injuries. It is never a good idea to bet a hound that is off form. One exception is a young dog who went up the ladder quickly and was not ready to compete at a higher level; they can return to form quickly. Another thing to watch for is a 7-10 day rest. The trainer has taken time to rest the dog and work with him or her, and they may be ready to return to the form that took them to a higher grade.

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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! Tune into our podcast, Catch the Action with Greyhound Channel, for news and more greyt tips from The Professor.

Blog Spotlight: Derby Lane’s Mutt Derby and Palm Beach’s A FUNdraiser Event

It was a beautiful day for Derby Lane’s Mutt Derby on Sunday, February 18th. The Mutt Derby returned last year after a 20 year hiatus, and was so successful that Derby Lane decided to bring it back for 2018. The Mutt Derby gives pups of all breeds and sizes the opportunity to race on the iconic track. With 36 races that included more than 300 dogs and about 2,500 people in attendance, the event was another big hit. While greyhounds were more than welcome to attend the event, they were excluded from the races in an attempt to keep it fair for all the other pups. This allowed participating dogs a chance to show off their own racing skills by running the stretch of the track.

To race, the pups were released by volunteers at one end of the track while their owners awaited them at the other end of the track, giving them the opportunity to cheer for their pup as they raced down the stretch.

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An important aspect of the Mutt Derby is that all proceeds from the event go to Greyhound Pets of America, a nonprofit greyhound adoption organization. As a racetrack partner, Derby Lane’s kennels and trainers works closely with the Tampa Bay location, where many retired greyhounds go to be placed into their forever homes. We loved seeing the photos and video footage of the event and hope to see it return next year for another fun-filled day that supports such a great organization.

Palm Beach Kennel Club also hosted “A FUNdraising Event” on Sunday, February 11th. The event was filled with laughter as those in attendance watched a fun improv show. All proceeds from the event went to Forever Greyhounds, a nonprofit greyhound adoption organization that matches retired racers for homes in the U.S. and Canada.

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With Valentine’s Day this month, February is often viewed as the month of love and we are so happy that the greyhound racing community seized that, showing their love for the greyhound athletes by supporting organizations that care for the pups after their racing career. Greyhound adoption organizations do such wonderful work by helping transition greyhounds to home life and bringing joy to the families who are connected with these wonderful pups. If you are interested in adopting a greyhound or would like to get involved, check out the local adoption organization near you.

This Week With The Professor: Pups Moving Up in Class

One of the most difficult things to assess is how pups moving out of the maiden ranks will do on the rise up the grading ladder. Some pups, who are outstanding, will have no trouble moving up until they reach grade A, which is a dog of a different color, so to speak.

Even the most outstanding pups will have trouble when reaching the top grade, and are usually over bet when they do. But I digress, and will return to that later. One way to discern how a pup will do when moving up is to look and see how other maidens have done after winning.

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This will vary greatly from track to track. At some tracks, the pups are top notch and will be tough, and at other tracks, not so much, and will find trouble against older hounds. Do your homework and it will pay off. Back to pups who have risen up the ladder quickly into grade A. My advice is to try and beat these pups, as they are ALWAYS overbet and will frequently take some time to adjust to the top hounds. If they do beat you, take solace in that the payoff will be small, and if you win, the payoff will be great.

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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! Tune into our podcast, Catch the Action with Greyhound Channel, for news and more greyt tips from The Professor.