Today, The Professor will answer a question submitted by Hank P. regarding the number of greyhound runners per race compared to Irish greyhound tracks, and what the effect is.
Hank P. asked, “Irish Greyhound tracks use 6 greyhounds per race, US tracks use 8 to 9. Are injuries less at Irish tracks than US tracks because of fewer greyhounds in a race? If so, would US tracks consider using 6 greyhounds per race to help prevent injuries and to help curb anti-greyhound racing concerns? More races could be added to racing schedules to compensate for the use of fewer greyhounds per race. Yes, payoffs may be less to bettors using 6 greyhounds per race but US greyhounds would have a better chance of not being injured as much and having a longer racing life.”
The answer to your question is no. Gamblers in the US, for the most part, do not like smaller fields in greyhound racing or in horse racing, and do not play as much when the fields are small. As evidence of that you can compare the pools in a race where there are one or more scratches and you will see they are considerably smaller. As you point out, the payoffs would be noticeably smaller. In the days where Multnomah ran nine dog races, the payoffs were huge, and when they went to the standard eight dog race, the payoffs took a sharp dive. Greyhound tracks are living with a small profit margin and they could not afford to take that hit. As for adding more races, that is really not an option. Even with short times between races, it is difficult to get 15 races in before midnight at most tracks.
As far as the amount of injuries go, I have no idea what the rate of injury is in Ireland, but over there racing is so different than ours, it is difficult to compare. Having trained and owned greyhounds myself, I found that the condition of the track is a much larger factor in injuries than bumping and collisions. Almost all of the major injuries occur when a dog hits a hole or takes a bad step rather than being hit by another dog. Your thought about appeasing anti-greyhound racing folks may be valid, but it is my experience that there is nothing that you could do to convince them to stop their anti-dog racing campaign, other than to ban greyhound racing, as most of their arguments have been proven false or greatly exaggerated.
Thanks for the question Hank!
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