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.

PsRambling
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.