This Week With The Professor: Lucky Numbers

Many handicappers have what they think are “lucky numbers,” and they always seem to include those numbers when they are wagering. In my opinion, these numbers should be called “unlucky numbers.”

Playing “lucky numbers” is fine if you are playing the lottery, which is a mindless exercise, or are on a game show and have to choose a number. Having “lucky numbers” when playing the greyhounds, or thoroughbreds, is almost always a negative exercise. If your “lucky numbers” come in, and you used them, you think that it was luck and not for a legitimate reason, such as how the greyhound ran, or how the race was run. When you then analyze the race, you will not look at it objectively.

If the “lucky numbers” do not come in, you have wasted money including them in your play. Let’s say that you do not include the “lucky numbers” in your play, then they come in. Now you are playing the mind game that you should have played them and you didn’t.

In my opinion, the only reason a number is important is because of post position and how the runner will like that position. I have known quite a few “numbers players” over the years and have never known one who showed a profit in the long run. If you like playing numbers and don’t care about showing a profit and just want to have fun, go for it, but don’t expect to be a winner in the long run.

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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: Jim Peake

He has called some of the most historic races of our time, as greyt and award winning athletes such as the legendary, Talentedmrripley, and 105 career winner, Husker Magic, crossed the finish line. He has also helped fans to cash in on the sport with his picks for both horses and greyhounds. Known as “The Voice” of Derby Lane, Jim Peake has been entertaining greyhound racing enthusiasts with his captivating calls for over two decades.

We recently spoke with Jim, asking about his career and the greyhound racing industry. The following includes our interview with Jim so that you can to get to know the man from above the stands at Derby Lane or the voice coming out of your speakers at home. Enjoy!

If memory serves us right, you have been with your wife for 17 years, married for 10. Is that correct? You have mentioned that you two attend the Breeders Cup for your anniversary every year. How long have you been doing that? Does she share the same love of racing?

You are correct on my wife Beth. I met her here at the track 17 years ago. We have been together ever since and were married 10 years ago this November 1st. We have been going to The Breeders’ Cup since 2006. The only year we did not go was the year we got married. Beth punches tickets here at Derby Lane and she has been here for the past 35 years. We go to Breeders’ Cup with 2 other couples and the girls work (punching tickets) both days while the boys play. I like Santa Anita the best, but we have had great times at Churchill, Monmouth, Keeneland, and Lone Star. This year will be at Del Mar, which will be a first at that track for us. Beth would rather work and make money than sit there all day and watch the races. When it’s on the west coast, we always drive to Las Vegas following the races for 4 Days, which makes it a great trip.

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Jim Peake and his wife, Beth.

After training under Mark Beiro and calling Jai Alai in Tampa from 1989-1995, you said you were led to greyhound racing in St. Petersburg. Was it something specific that led you to Derby Lane and drew your interest in greyhound racing? Had you had any interest in greyhound or horse racing prior to Derby Lane?

First, let me tell you about Mark Beiro. Mark has been a figure in the Tampa Bay area for many years. Mark started out with Florida Championship Wrestling years ago before moving on to Tuesday Night Fights on USA Network and many other Boxing shows. Later on, he moved to Battle Bots as the Ring Announcer for both the Battle Bots and Boxing. But I met him at Jai Alai, which he was “The Voice of Jai-Alai” for many years. We became good friends and when the head of the PR Department opened, he came out of the booth and became the PR Director. He always told me I could do the job, he always said I had a strong voice. So he showed me the ins and outs of The Jai Alai game, which, by the way, is a great game watching it live. He hired me and that went on for over 6 years. Then, with the Jai Alai business, started the downhill run caused by the longest strike in sports history. He gave me a tip that they were looking for a race caller at Derby Lane, which I found interesting. Came over here and competed for the job with a lot of guys that wanted this job. It was an open tryout and I wanted out of Jai Alai, which 3 years later closed its doors in Tampa. I got the job and the rest is history. Have no Idea what I would have been doing with my life if it wasn’t for Mark Beiro.

As far as greyhounds and horses, I was always a Horse guy, But I grew up with the harness horses. Spent many nights at The Meadows in Washington, PA. I listened to maybe the best race caller I ever have heard, Roger Huston. He was there when I was a young man growing up and is still calling the races there to this day. With the greyhounds, my first exposure to them was at Wheeling Downs in WV. I found them very fun and fast. Never thought that I would be calling over 100,000 races and working in the business for 22 years.

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Jim Peake (right) with his dad, Jay (left). Fun fact: Jay is a champion archer and hunter. At the age of 17, in 1957, he won the National Archery Championships in Watkins Glen, NY.

Are there any particular greyhounds that you enjoy watching race? Any particular stakes that you favor?

I like to watch the young hounds start out and find the good ones that move up the ladder in grade. It’s always fun to see them get better and move up to top grade. I still enjoy our big races: The Sprint Classic, The Distance Classic and then our other top races, The Fall Sprint and Holiday Distance Classic.

What is one of your most memorable or favorite races that you have called over the years?

I think the the best and biggest races were the Derby Lane Million 1 and 2. It took the Greyhound business by storm. It was maybe the 2 most talked about races in the sport all over the world. We had the best of the best travel here for those history making events. I am proud to have called the two richest races in greyhound racing history.

Calling over 100,000 races, the memory fades a little, but we have had the best of the best here. From the best breaking dog I have ever seen, Scott Free, to maybe the best Greyhound of all time in Talentedmrripley, to maybe my personal favorite, Flying Coal City. “The Coal Train” was one of the best dual distance runners that I have called, and one of the first ones that I worked on promo wise on social media. I proclaimed him the “Best Dog in the Country” and I took a lot of heat for it. But in the end, he was the last Greyhound Triple Crown Dog winning all the awards in the same year, Rural Rube, Flashy Sir, and Captain of The All-America Team. No hound has done that since he did it. I also can’t forget Husker Magic. She won over 100 races here at Derby Lane and I am proud to have called them all here. One of the best I have seen, Joey Ice, comes to mind. Made him the #1 dog in the country. Would have had a great shot in the 1st National Championship Race at Daytona. There have been so many champions here at this track that it’s been my pleasure to call them home.


Are there any up and coming “hot dogs” that you think we should keep an eye on?

Kentucky Kat was very hot at the beginning of the year. I like a dog right now that is super hot. RT’s Bo Jangles. This greyhound will have a BIG shot to get 1st Team All-American for 2017. Both have a good shot, but we still have 5.5 months to go. Looking for a few of the younger ones to get better as the summer moves along.

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Derby Lane’s Kentucky Kat, after winning the 2017 Sprint Classic. Photos provided by Michael Black.

With 22 years of calling races, what would you say is your favorite thing about the sport?

The best thing that I like about the sport is the people in it. I have met a lot of great people that love this sport. Lots of fans of the sport that are great. I like the people that I work with now and miss many people that I have worked with in the past. All pro’s and all wanting to put on the best show possible. We are still The Showplace of Greyhound Racing.

Derby Lane has had some movie exposure, such as Oceans 11 and Infiltrator. They have also been involved in the Mutt Derby, which helps raise money for greyhound adoption. Over the years, what would you say has been one of your favorite memories, events, or promotions at Derby Lane?

There’s been a ton of great events here. I was very proud to be a part of those movies and the one that everyone was talking about was on the award winning show Breaking Bad. The episode was 2 of the main stars sitting in a very dark bar by themselves and in the background they had my voice calling the races on the TV’s in the Bar. It was very cool. Lots of people freaked out when they started to hear the call in the background… I got a ton of feedback on that.

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Jim Peake calling a race at Derby Lane. Photo provided by Michael Black.

Derby Lane features your selections at the bottom of every race page. What kinds of things do you look at when handicapping?

I do the picks every day for the program and do the Morning Line as well. I do them 3 days in advance. When looking at the entries I try and find the grade dropper first, then check out their last couple of races and try to remember their races. I believe the Morning Line is a guide for the non pro’s and people coming to the track for the first time. I believe it is a guide for the novice player to begin their handicapping. Just a little help to get started in the process of picking their winners. I don’t get them all right, but I get a few…

We can’t help but smile every time we hear a race called by Jim. His enthusiasm and love for greyhound racing shines through each time he’s at the mic. We enjoyed gaining more insight on one of our favorite track announcers and hope you did as well. If you’re ever in the area, we encourage you to stop by Derby Lane to listen to Jim call the races live. Check out some of his picks at the bottom of the program, too, and make a day of it.

We would like to thank Jim Peake for taking the time to answer our questions. Check out his “Peake’s Picks” via Derby Lane’s website. One of our main goals is to promote the greyhound industry. Do you work in the greyhound racing industry or know someone who does? Would you be interested in being featured in our blog or podcast? Contact us at custserv@greyhoundchannel.com.

This Week With The Professor: Handicapping Thoroughbreds vs. Greyhounds

In honor of the Belmont Stakes running today, June 10th, I thought it might be a good time to discuss the differences between greyhound and thoroughbred handicapping. Let’s look at several factors and see how they are different. Class: In greyhound

Class: In greyhound racing, the greyhounds grade themselves by their performance. In thoroughbred racing, the owners and trainers decide what class to run their horses in.

Speed: In greyhound racing, you can evaluate speed by knowing that the greyhound will always run as hard as they can at the start, so their performance will be more consistent. In thoroughbreds, the jockey will rate the horse, so they may show more speed in some races than others.

Post position: In greyhound racing, post postion is very important, as some dogs like to run on the inside and others the outside. In thoroughbred racing, while post is somehwat important depending on the size of the field, it’s not nearly as critical as with greyhounds.

Human factor: In greyhound racing, the greyhound will run with the same style in every race, and therefore can be counted on to run more as predicted. With thoroughbred racing, the human has much more control of how the horse runs, as the trainer or jockey may decide to change the running style of that horse from race to race. In addition, when a trainer drops a horse in class, you have to be suspect of the horse’s condition.

Trouble: In greyhound racing, there is more bumping, and collisions are commonplace, whereas in thoroughbred racing, bumping is not allowed and may result in disqualification.

In conclusion, it may appear that thoroughbred handicapaping is more difficult than greyhound racing, but that is in the eye of the beholder.

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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: Ray Wong

Every year Greyhound Channel looks forward to sponsoring a stake race at NGA’s Spring Meet, and the 2017 renewal was no exception. This year’s supported 5/16 race run on April 28th was captured by a speedy, dark brindle female named Peppermint Mandy by Cry Calaveras and Sweet Miranda and owned by Ray Wong. Soon after, a letter of appreciation from Mr. Wong was received at the Portland, Oregon business office stating it was a privilege to win the race with “Mandy.” Flattered, we had to learn more about Pepperment Mandy and her gracious owner.

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Reta Raccoon, Ray Wong, and Cry Calveras

Ray Wong grew up in the small, high desert city of Winslow, Arizona with his parents, three sisters, and brother. Always a shutterbug, he served as Winslow High School’s photographer. He lettered in wrestling, competing in the 115 lb weight class division and credits his success to countless hours of heavy lifting at his parent’s grocery store. After graduating from Arizona State University, earning a degree in Journalism in 1972, Ray received a master’s degree in Photo Journalism from University of Missouri in 1974.

 

He was hired as Picture Editor for the Toronto Star and in 1982 moved to Nashville where he was employed by The Tennessean as Graphics Editor. In 1995, Ray tackled a unique challenge offered by Middle Tennessee State University to revamp graphic sequence in the school curriculum. Boosting the university for the next 17 years, he retired Professor Emeritus in 2012.

Greyhounds were never on Ray’s radar until he and wife Mardy Fones adopted a whippet mix named Mac in 1999. Shortly after, they thought Mac would do well with a companion cannine and selected a retired red fawn racer named Mel (Bart’s Viper) by Jet Set Mr. Tea and Meadows Peach with assistance from GPA-Nashville. Ray was smitten with Mel’s elegant look and demeanor. His fascination with the breed increased and lead him to serve as GPA-Nashville President from 2003 – 2006.

In 2005, Ray decided to put his photo journalistic skills to work with the hope of publishing a book about greyhounds covering four distinct areas: farm, track, pet, and their uniqueness as a breed. While researching his project, he met his mentor trainer Peter Lomax at Birmingham Race Course who advised him that in order to learn the industry, he had to race a dog. Soon, Ray partnered with Peter in ownership of litter mates male Mac’s Happy and female Mac’s Hoppy by Dodgem By Design and Sisterhood. After schooling at Tri-State, the brindle brother-sister duo developed into grade A sprinters at Birmingham. These weren’t going to be Ray’s last grade A competitors.

While getting his racing fix at Birmingham in 2011, he spotted a blue male named Cry Calaveras by Dragon Fire and Cry Huron. After consulting Pete Lomax, Ray purchased the slow-starting, fast closing middle distance runner from owner Cameron Younts. After joining the Northshore Kennel roster at Southland, Cry Calaveras turned into a grade AA 660 yard win monster until he retired to stud.

 

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Cry Calaveras at stud

 

Currently, Ray has runners competing at Derby Lane, Ebro, Mobile, Naples, Orange Park, and Wheeling Downs. We at Greyhound Channel are happy to report that Peppermint Mandy broke her Maiden at Wheeling in the 5th race, during the Matinee on Saturday June 3rd, in impressive come from behind fashion. Congratulations to Mandy and to her proud owner! Ray also advised to keep an eye out for her litter mates Smokies Rockytop, Doubledown Dewey, and Hillbilly Hunter’s debut starts. He’s also hopeful that young, red RHT Calvena by Cry Calaveras and SB’s Hattie retains her middle distance grade A form at Naples.

While Ray may have retired from academia, there’s no grass growing under his feet. When available, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Cry Calaveras, and Reta Raccoon at their Brentwood, Tennessee home. He may also be found clerking part-time behind the meat counter at Publix Super Market in Brentwood. The book he started in 2005 continues to morph. Greyhound Channel anticipates its publication at a later time… There are just too many chapters waiting to break the box!

We would like to thank Ray Wong for speaking with us about his journey so far with the greyhound racing industry. One of our main goals is to promote the greyhound industry. Do you work in the greyhound racing industry or know someone who does? Would you be interested in being featured in our blog or podcast? Contact us at custserv@greyhoundchannel.com.