Racing Breeds, Rules and Regulations
Yes, it's the Greyhound Jockey
Let's take a trip back in American Greyhound history ...almost 70 years to 1932.
Imagine the setting – a perfectly normal Greyhound racetrack somewhere in the eastern United States. Bets have been placed with the book makers and the gambling masses settle in the stands and terraces, waiting expectantly. The eight racing dogs are eager for the chance. They are fired‑up, panting and yelping through the constrictions of their muzzles ...ready for the "off." A buzzer sounds. The electric lure starts its run, the rail humming and vibrating, adding to the tension. The lure sweeps past the straining Greyhounds and the crowed erupts in a frenzy of excitement as ‑the handlers release the dogs.
Released by handlers? What about the starting boxes?
None here for tonight's feature race. There wouldn't be room for the jockeys.
Puzzled? Well, don't be. The monkey jockeys are in town, so you can throw both convention and the rulebook out the window.
Loretta and Charlie David conceived the bizarre idea of having monkeys ride Greyhounds
Years of planning
This was a wild, money‑spinning craze in the 1930s. Facing Greyhounds with tiny little primates on their backs…all vying to pass the finish line first, and all taking their job very, very seriously.
Loretta and Charlie David conceived this bizarre idea in 1930 and it took them two years to bring their plan to fruition.
They obtained 12 baby capuchin monkeys from Panama and placed one with each of their 12 Greyhound puppies. Male capuchins when fully mature can weigh up to 15 pounds (6.8kg), so the Davids went for the smaller, lighter females. These central American primates are the most intelligent and trainable of the New World monkeys. They are an excellent choice when needed for a film or television role and have come to known as "organ grinder monkeys." We might not have seen (but have all heard about) these cheeky little capuchins helping their musical masters to collect coins in a cup from onlookers.
At their base in Palm Beach, Florida, the Davids patiently waited as this slightly unnatural two‑year "bonding" process between capuchin and Greyhound took its course. It wasn't an easy task to undertake, and there were many problems, but as both species matured to adulthood so a close harmony began to exist between the monkeys and their canine partners.
With each capuchin now "attached" to its own particular dog, many hours of training were to follow. Twelve tiny made‑to‑measure, hand‑stitched saddles were imported from Italy. These were crafted in the finest soft leather, perfect down to the last detail and included a girth and miniature stirrup irons.
The monkey's racing silks were made in the U.S. and these too were diminutive versions of the real thing. Each primate had its own jacket colors, cap, jodhpurs and boots. Jockey whips were taboo, but the clever little riders soon learned to improvise by using their own tails as long as 22 inches (55cm) this was quite an advantage. In a tight finish they wouldn't hesitate to whack their Greyhound's rump in order to squeeze every last ounce of speed from their canine mounts.
Loretta David, an attractive lady in her early 30s, said at the time, "We found the monkeys were almost human. They were highly intelligent and the competitive spirit during a race was truly amazing. Each desperately wanted their Greyhounds to win in order to collect the prize."
And what was the prize for the winning jockey? Nothing more than a humble cup of peanuts. Hence there's a definite truth in the old adage, "If you pay peanuts, you'll get monkeys!"
One of the problems faced by Loretta and Charlie was the monkeys' over‑exuberance to win, no matter what the cost. Competition on the track was extremely fierce and it was not uncommon (during training sessions) for the little primates to lean over in their saddles and cause interference to rival jockeys and their dogs. This took the form of hanging onto (and sometimes ripping) another monkey's silks, or even jumping from one Greyhound competitor to another in order to hold it back.
Charlie David, a 40‑year‑old former company executive solved this problem by strapping each capuchin down with a specially designed saddle harness. This allowed a certain freedom of movement (they could still use their tails as whips) but it restricted any blatant bad behavior. Unfortunately it had its downside should any Greyhound mount take a tumble during a race. The monkey, unable to escape from the saddle, would be forced to go with the dog and therefore injuries were unavoidable.
"Despite the odd accident they all loved to ride," Loretta David was quoted as saying. "It seemed to come naturally to the capuchins. When Charlie and I began to unpack their racing silks they knew exactly what was about to happen and they'd chatter and screech with anticipation. All wanted to win the cup of peanuts and they were very impatient to get the race underway."
There is no doubting the great rivalry between these teeny tiny chattering jockeys. Presumably they cursed at each other in Spanish ‑ as this was the native Panamanian language! The rivalry certainly manifested itself when one monkey (through illness or injury) was substituted for another. Neither monkey nor Greyhound liked to switch partners, and this mutual dislike was evident during racing. Both primate and dog showed their displeasure at the mismatch by barely trying to win. When racing had finished the substitute monkey would run to the kennels and immediately go to the Greyhound to which it had "bonded" and been trained to ride. The injured capuchin that had been left out of the evening's proceedings would also show its displeasure to the Davids. Charlie and Loretta found they had petulant, sullen and irritable little primate on their hands that displayed a moody anger at missing the race.
The monkeys were always given the best of care and rarely got sick as each, after training, represented a $2,000 investment (1935 figure) to the Davids. These little primates traveled across the United States in boxes in the rear of Loretta and Charlie's car, whilst the Greyhounds were towed in a trailer.
A huge hit
Every night was race night for the Davids. A different town, a different track ‑ such was the monkey jockeys crowd‑pleasing demand in the 1930s. People would come from far and wide to see the multi‑colored little riders with their crinkled "old mans" faces, battling it out with a vengeance. On the track no quarter was given or expected and the crowd roared its approval as the Greyhounds completed the 5/16 of a mile course.
During the period they were racing neither Loretta or Charlie had a bet on the outcome.
"Every race is unpredictable," Charlie said at the time. "With the monkey jockeys anything can happen and the result is always wide-open."
The final curtain
And so the Davids continued to tour the U.S. for several years before the novelty value wore thin with the public. As the crowds waned so the monkey jockeys were disbanded and Charlie and Loretta melted into obscurity.
The Davids' brainchild of training Greyhounds with jockeys (to emulate racehorses with riders) had lost its appeal. Now they have gone ‑and a good thing too ‑ I'm sure all the animal welfare groups will be saying!
Australia tried to pick up where the Davids had left off and extended the idea by using hurdles and water jumps. Mexico also tried a revival in the 1950s ‑but both were short lived.
I suppose an element of cruelty was involved. Presumably the capuchins didn't ask to be jockeys in the first place? Nevertheless, Charlie and Loretta are part of Greyhound history and my only regret is that I wasn't alive in the 1930s or I would have been first in line at the ticket gate.
A crazy phenomenon? Completely unnatural? Bordering on the grotesque? An exploitation of innocent creatures?
Yes, using monkey jockeys was no doubt part, if not all of the above and the Davids' theatrical aspirations‑would not be tolerated in the year 2000. But the sight of these wizened little creatures sitting proudly astride their Greyhound mounts must have been quite a breathtaking spectacle ‑ and one which we will never see the like again.
Why Call it a Bertillon Card?
(Excerpt from the novel The Alienist by Caleb Carr)
"Let me see. I'll try to make this as accessible as I can‑if we take the perspective heights of the two children, and then add the aspects of the skull fractures that I've just described to the equation, we can start to speculate about the height of the attacker." He turned to Lucius. "What did we guess, roughly six‑foot‑two?" Lucius nodded and Marcus continued. "I don't know how much any of you know about anthropometry the Bertillon system of identification and classification‑"
"Oh, are you trained in it?" Sara said. "I've been anxious to meet someone who is."
Marcus looked surprised. "You know Bertillon's work, Miss Howard?"
As Sara nodded eagerly Kreizler cut in: "I must confess ignorance, detective Sergeant. I've heard the name, but little more."
And so while disposing of the terrapin we also reviewed the achievcents of Alphonse Bertillon, a misanthropic, pedantic Frenchman who had revolutionized the science of criminal identification during the eighties. As a lowly clerk assigned the task of going through the files that the police department kept on known criminals, Bertillon had discovered that if one took fourteen measurements of any human body‑not only height, but foot, hand, nose, and car size, and so on‑the odds were over 286 million to one that any two people would share the same results. Despite enormous resistance from his superiors, Bcrtillon had begun to record the body‑part sizes of known criminals and then to categorize his results, training a staff of assistant measurers and photographers in the process; and when he used the information thus collected to solve several infamous casts that had stumped the Paris detectives, he became an international celebrity.
Bertillon's system had been adopted quickly throughout Europe, later in London, and only recently in New York. Throughout his tenure as head of the Division of Detectives, Thomas Byrnes had rejected anthropometry, with its exact measurements and careful photographs, as too intellectually demanding for most of his men‑undoubtedly an accurate assumption. Then, too, Byrnes had created the Rogues' Gallery, a room full of photographs of most known criminals in the United States: he was jealous of his creation, and considered it sufficient for the purposes of identification. Finally, Byrnes had established his own principles of detection and would not have them overthrown by any Frenchman. But with Byrnes's departure from the force, anthropometry had picked up more advocates, one of whom was evidently sitting at our table that night.
"The main shortcoming of Bertillon's system," Marcus said, "besides the fact that it depends on skilled measurers, is that it can only match a suspected or convicted criminal to his record and aliases." Having eaten a small bowl of sorbet Elsinore, Marcus started to take a cigarette from his pocket, evidently thinking that the meal was over. He was very pleasantly surprised when a plate of canvasback duck, prepared with hominy and a currant 8clic, was placed before him, along with a glass of splendid Chambertin.
"Excuse my asking, Doctor," Lucius said in continuing confusion, "but . . . is there actually a conclusion to this meal, or do we just work our way into breakfast?"
"So long as you arc full of useful information, Detective Sergeants, the food will continue coming."
"Well, then . . ." Marcus took a big bite of duck, closing his eyes in appreciation. "We'd better stay interesting. Now, as I was about to say, the Bertillon system offers no physical evidence of criminal commission. It can't put a man at the scene of the crime. But it can help us shorten the list of known criminals who may be responsible. We're betting that the man who killed the Zweig children was somewhere in the neighborhood of six‑foot‑two. That'll product relatively few candidates, even from the files of the New York police. It's an advantageous starting point. And the better news is that, with so many dries now adopting the system, we can make our check nationwide‑‑‑even to Europe, if we want to.” And if the man has no prior criminal record?" Kreizler asked.
"Then, as I say," Marcus answered with a shrug, "we're out of luck." Kreizler looked disappointed at this, and Marcus‑‑‑eyeing, it seemed to me, his plate, and wondering if the food would really stop coming when we reached a dead end‑‑cleared his throat. "That is, Doctor, out of luck so far as official departmental methods go. However, I'm a student of some other techniques that might prove useful in that eventuality."
Lucius looked worried. "Marcus," he mumbled. "I'm still not sure, it's not accepted, yet‑"
Marcus answered quietly but quickly: "Not in court. But it would still make sense in an investigation. We discussed this."
"Gentlemen?" Kreizler said. "Will you share your secret?"
Lucius gulped his Champagne nervously. "It's still theoretical, Doctor, and is not accepted anywhere in the world as legal evidence, but . . ." He looked to Marcus, seemingly worried that his brother had cost him dessert. "Oh, all right. Go ahead."
Marcus spoke confidentially. "It's called dactyloscopy."
"Oh," I said. "You mean fingerprinting."
"Yes," Marcus replied, "that's the colloquial term."
"But‑" Sara broke in. "I mean no offense, Detective Sergeant, but dactyloscopy has been rejected by every police department in the world. Its scientific basis hasn't even been proven, and no actual case has ever been solved by using it."
"I take no offense at that, Miss Howard," Marcus answered. "And I hope you won't take any when I say that you're mistaken. The scientific basis has been proven, and several cases have been solved using the technique‑though not in a part of the world that you're likely to have heard much about."
Nick, an Arizona Player, reader writes: "Recently, I went to the dog track and noted that the Greyhounds competed in different "grades”; Grade A, B, C, D and M. Who determines what grade they race in, and what do the grade letters mean?
Answer: Grade Classification ‑ The Racing Secretary shall be responsible for the proper grading of the greyhounds under the provisions of this section. Before the first day of a race meeting, the Race Secretary, after sufficiently schooling all greyhounds and considering their past performances, shall classify all greyhounds into proper grades, which are A, B, C, D and M.
Grade M refers to Maiden classification which indicates a greyhound has not won an official race at a pari‑mutuel facility supervised by a regulatory agency. A greyhound that falls in a race shall be considered a starter. However, a greyhound shall not be considered a starter if the start would result in the greyhound grading off.
For a greyhound that transfers to the racetrack from another racetrack during a race meeting, the racing Secretary shall assign the grade held by the greyhound at the time of the transfer or the equivalent of such track, depending on the previous track's grading system, or the next two grades higher or lower.
A greyhound that has advanced from Grade M and has been dropped from further racing without winning another official start may be requalified after a period of thirty days. Upon requalification, the greyhound shall be placed in Grade D by the Racing Secretary.
Greyhounds not racing because of illness or injury for 30 days or more may be reclassified. All stake races shall be indicated by the letter "S" and the grade.
The greyhounds advance to grade D from grade M by winning a Maiden race, and the Racing Secretary shall advance a greyhound that wins a race one grade until reaching Grade A. However, on a request by a kennel owner or trainer, the Racing Secretary may advance a greyhound that finishes second, third or fourth in a Maiden race to Grade D, and then must advance as provided in this section. For a greyhound re‑graded on request, the association shall place the letter "M" after the greyhounds name in the racing program.
The Racing Secretary shall lower a greyhound to the next lower grade for the following reasons: In grade A and B, if the greyhound fails to finish in the top three positions In three consecutive starts or if the greyhound fails to earn more than one third in four consecutive starts in the same grade. If the greyhound is grade C, the greyhound will be lowered to the next grade if the greyhound fails to finish in the top three positions in four consecutive starts.
The greyhound may also lose their eligibility; if a greyhound in Grade D fails to finish in the top four positions in four consecutive starts, the greyhound will be dropped from further competition at the race meeting. However, a greyhound that wins a Maiden race and advances to Grade D in its initial entry 9n that grade may fail to finish in the top four positions in six consecutive starts before being dropped from further racing. Also, a greyhound less than 36 months of age that has been dropped from further competition will be eligible to requalify after 60 days. Upon requalifying, the greyhound will be placed in Grade D. A greyhound that began the current meeting as a Maiden and has advanced above Grade D will be dropped from further competition if the greyhound fails to finish in the top four positions in four consecutive starts, while racing in Grade D. If a Maiden fails to finish in the top four positions in six consecutive starts, the greyhound shall be dropped from further competition, except that if it requalifies, the greyhound shall be given two additional starts. If the greyhound fails to finish in the top four positions in those two starts, the greyhound shall be dropped from further competition.
Multnomah Kennel Club
Fixed Purse Schedule
(All purses include breakage.*)
A B C DD D M MG
Purse Distribution: 1st ‑ 50°/a, 2nd ‑ 25%, 3rd ‑ 15%, 4th ‑ 10%
*Breakage is the odd cents remaining after the final payoffs are calculated based on payments computed at five or ten cent increments for each dollar wagered. Of the total breakage, 33 1/3 percent is retained by Multnomah Kennel Club. The remaining 66 2/3 percent is equally divided between Multnomah Kennel Club and the Oregon Greyhound Breeder's Association. Multnomah Kennel Club uses this one third share to augment purses. The breeder's association one‑third share is used for the benefit and improvement of the breeding, ownership, training and racing of greyhounds in Oregon.
BORN TO RUN!
BORN TO RUN!
The origin of the greyhound is deeply rooted in ancient history. Murals and paintings of dogs strikingly similar to today's greyhound existed over 4,000 years ago. From the beginning, the greyhound was held in high regard, as evidenced by pictures etched on the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs. Pharaohs rated them first among all animals, both as pets and hunters.
The Arabs so admired the physical attributes and speed of the greyhound that it was the only dog permitted to share their tents and ride atop their camels. In early Arabian culture, the birth of a greyhound ranked second only in importance to the birth of a son. In Persia, Rome and Greece, the greyhound enjoyed similar stature and is the only canine mentioned in Holy Scripture (Proverbs 30:29-31).
It is documented that the greyhound arrived in England over 3,500 years ago.
Their link with nobility was established in 1014 when King Canute enacted
the Forest Laws, which stated that only noblemen could own and hunt with greyhounds.
The Forest Laws were abolished in the 1500s by Queen Elizabeth I, who later
initiated the first formal rules of greyhound coursing (the pursuit of hares),
thus officially inaugurating the "Sport of Queens".
In the late 1800s, the greyhound was imported to America to help Midwestern farmers control the jackrabbit, a noted crop destroyer. With the advent of the greyhound in America, coursing events soon followed.
Greyhound track racing, as we know it today, began with Owen Patrick Smith's invention of a mechanical lure around 1912, which made racing around a circular track possible. The first circular track opened in 1919 in Emeryville, California. Although this track was not very successful, it paved the way for the development of the greyhound racing industry in America.
History has proven that the greyhound is an animal born to run. They were originally bred as hunting dogs because of their speed. To run is the fulfillment of a greyhound's basic instinct. Greyhounds by nature are gentle and have always had a strong relationship with humans. The breeding and training of greyhounds is an extension of the human/animal relationship established thousands of years ago.
Breeding and Raising
A racing greyhound begins its life after a gestation period of about 60 days, and litters generally range from five to nine pups. At birth, it will weigh from three-quarters to one and three-quarters pounds, growing to a normal size of between 65 and 75 pounds in approximately one year.
Except for size, the adult males and females of the same litter may appear identical, but sex, size and color have nothing to do with their speed.
When a pup is three months old, it is given an identifying tattoo. An owner must register a greyhound with the National Greyhound Association in Abilene, Kansas. With the registration papers, a name--with no more than 16 characters--is submitted. Unless these procedures are followed, a greyhound will not be permitted to race.
After two months, a greyhound is placed in a run to begin exercising its legs. A normal breeding farm, a pup's home for its first year, consists of stud dog quarters, brood bitch quarters, whelping kennels, puppy quarters, exercise yards and kennel runs of various sizes.
At the age of one year, pups (generally kept together in litters) are transferred to a training kennel. Training begins on a small schooling track where puppies are handheld so that the lure (generally a mechanical devise) is in sight at all times. As its ability progresses, the greyhound graduates to a starting box, long distances and increased fields of competition.
Once on the training track, during the first couple of schooling sessions a greyhound will establish a running pattern (inside, outside, fast-breaker, slow-breaker, pacesetter, closer, etc.) which it may use for the rest of it running life.
A normal meal for the racing greyhound consists of two to two and one-half pounds of ground meat, vegetables and roughage, supplemented by vitamins.
Generally between 14 and 16 months of age, sufficient training has been completed and a greyhound is placed in a racing kennel to begin qualification for a racing career.
Each kennel has a trainer who is responsible for its care. Usually each kennel is kept together, kennelled under one roof. A trainer could have up to 40 racing greyhounds in his charge and attends to all their needs. The trainer will know each greyhound by name and affectionately describes them by their individual characteristics. A greyhound, like any other good athlete, is extremely well cared for by its trainer.
Registered Racing Kennel
Every greyhound must have a registered owner and must be from a registered kennel. Each racing kennel enters into a contract with a track to race a certain number of greyhounds during the track's season. The names of the greyhounds to be raced are given to the track, and during the season they cannot be raced at any other track, except with permission of the track holding the contract. Because of this system, a close relationship develops between a greyhound and track personnel, who show as much pride as owners and trainers.
All race meetings in the United States are regulated by state or county law, and these statutes are enforced by members and officials of the state or county racing commission.
Two hours before post time, each greyhound is weighed. The weight of each greyhound can vary no more than one and one-half pounds from its set weight.
Greyhounds are then taken by track personnel to the lock-up area, which is in full view of the public. While in the paddock area before post time, the paddock judge checks each greyhound's tattoo and markings against identification records (Bertillon Card) prior to each race. Fifty-six identifying points of a greyhound are carefully recorded on the Bertillon Card, which assures absolute identity.
During this time, greyhounds are under strict security provided by state authorities. Urine samples are collected by the state's veterinarians and sent to laboratories to assure the absence of foreign substances. No greyhound can race while under medication.
The greyhounds are blanketed before track personnel parade them to the starting box.
These controls and procedures and the parading of the greyhounds on the track before the race--in full view of the public--ensure that the interests of the betting public are safeguarded.
Greyhound Racing 101
Through the Eyes of the Chartwriter
The Chartwriter has a unique job. It is their responsibility to carefully watch each race and note the various positions and problems of each runner. The chart-caller uses specific points of call to outline how the race was run. The first point of call is the break, or how the greyhound ran out of the box. The next point of call is the 1/8th mile post. This is an important call because it comes after the critical first turn. After those positions are recorded, then comes the stretch call and the resulting order of finish for the race. After reviewing the race, the chart-caller will make a short comment on the performance of each greyhound. The past performance lines shown in the program are the results of this effort.
The Photo Finish Camera
The Photo Finish Camera is a critical tool in determining the outcome of a race. Used by the state and track stewards, the photo finish camera is unique in its operation and capabilities.
The camera sits in a stationary position on top of the roof. A small vertical slot of ten thousandths is focused on the finish line and the film in the camera travels past this opening at the same speed as the greyhounds. The camera records objects moving in one direction only, from left to right. Each greyhound in the race is recorded as its nose penetrates the finish line and recording continues until all of its body has passed the slot. This process is automatically repeated until the last greyhound has finished the race. When a picture shows the results of a race,, the greyhounds behind the winner are also shown as they cross the finish line exactly in their order of finish.
Unlike the photo finish camera, the TV camera is not set up directly on the finish line, so the angle can fool you as you watch the race. If you watch a dead heat from the left of the finish line, the greyhound on the outside will appear to be ahead. The angle can also fool you from the right side of the finish line, but now the greyhound on the inside will appear to have the lead. This fact makes it crucial to have the photo finish camera directly on the finish line opposite a vertical mirror so when the order of finish is questioned an error will not be made. Live telecasts of the races on color monitors are not official photos of the race and have no connection with the photo finish camera.
What Does the Lure Operator Do?
The Lure Operators job is an important one. His main concern is the safe running of a race. This is done by keeping the lure, which is shaped like a giant bone, 20 to 30 feet in front of the leading runner. The operator must also try to keep the other racers interested while enticing the leaders. Ifs normal for the lure to squeak while going around the track. If a greyhound loses sight of the lure, they will follow the noise. The lure tucks under the rail after completion of the race. While the greyhounds are looking for the bone, they are safely collected by the readouts and returned to their trainers.
The weight of a racing greyhound is set by the trainer. The trainer determines a greyhound's weight by how well the greyhound races at a predetermined weight. The greyhound must weigh in at least sixty minutes before post time of the first race, and must weigh within one and one-half pounds of ifs set weight. Any variation of this weight by more than this amount will cause the greyhound to be scratched from that performance.
A female greyhound commonly weighs between 48 and 68 pounds while a male generally weighs between 60 and 80 pounds. Greyhounds compete on an equal level regardless of size and records show races are seldom affected by weight.
However, there are two things to watch for pertaining to weight when handicapping. Watch for a greyhound whose set weight seems to be steadily going up or down over a fairly short period of time. This will indicate that the trainer is making a move in order to enhance performance. If the greyhound shows improvement, expect more as his weight continues to change. Watch closely for a greyhound that loses two or more pounds from weigh in to his post weight. These weights are shown on the tote board prior to each race. If the greyhound's weight changes drastically, it may adversely affect the running performance and the greyhound involved may be too anxious to race. Usually these greyhounds race much better in earlier races on the program.
What Does a Steward Do?
Who won that race? Who made that call? These are popular questions asked
at the racetrack,, and good ones. To answer them we look up to the roof and
the stewards. (Steward is a name for judge.) An important job of the stewards
is to call the order of finish in a race and reaffirm it with the photo finish
camera operator. While doing this, the steward will call the finish down to
the Totalisator Manager to be input to the computer for wagering results.
If the result is different than originally called, or if a very close race
has occurred, the steward will ask that a print be made of the photo. Once
the race is declared "official" by the steward, the results and
any necessary photos and replays are displayed.
Another job of the stewards is to look for any trouble that might appear between the runners. If a particular racer has interfered with another or ran poorly (not trying his best), he may be forced to run in schooling races until he can prove again, that he is capable of running competitively.
There are three stewards that oversee the races Two represent the state and one represents the track. The purpose of having three stewards is that in the event there is a dispute to be settled, there will be an odd number.
What Goes On in the Paddock?
Before a greyhound can race he must pass inspection by the clerk-of scales and the paddock judge. The clerk-of -scales is responsible for weighing in all of the greyhounds, 60 minutes prior to post time of the first race. If the greyhound is one and one-half pounds over or under its set weight, it is considered unfit for racing and is scratched. Greyhounds that qualify are placed in the Ginny Pit. This is the holding area where runners stay until they are scheduled to race. Only qualified licensed personnel are permitted in the Ginny Pit area, which further ensures racing integrity.
Once the greyhound is ready to race, he is weighed one more time before going on to the track. Some racers are certified weight losers @), which means they are prone to lose weight in the Ginny Pit due to overexcitement. They can only get this certification if this persistent weight loss is proven not to hinder their performance on the track.
In the meantime, the paddock judge will inspect each greyhound to make sure the right racer is running in the right race, double-checking it's eligibility. With the aid of a Bertillon Card, the paddock judge can easily access the racer's (identification) record. Among the items on the card is the greyhound's tattoo. Each racer has a set of tattoos located in each ear. In the right ear is the greyhound's whelping (birth) date. In the left ear is the registration number given by the National Greyhound Association.
Once the greyhound is ready to run, he is given a muzzle and a blanket. The muzzle doesn't hurt or hinder the greyhound and is used solely as an aid in photo-finishes. Once the equipment is in place the greyhound is assisted to the track by the Leadout. Leadouts have a real love of dogs and racing. Their function is to show the betting public each greyhound, and to guide the runners to the starting box. Once the race is underway, the readout will watch the race progress and aid any greyhound that might get into trouble. Upon completion of the race, the readout retrieves the greyhound and returns it to its trainer.
What is a Racing Secretary?
The Racing Secretary has one of the most important jobs at the racetrack. The primary responsibility of the secretary is to compile the racing entries, called a race card, while at the same time meeting the needs of the public, the racing association, and the greyhound owners and trainers.
The racing card is assembled in three major steps. Step one is to assign the greyhounds to run according to grade and distance. Secondly, the secretary makes sure that each greyhound scheduled to run is eligible. Finally, with the aid of a computer, each runner is entered into a race and random post positions are assigned.
Another responsibility of the racing secretary is to make sure each one of
the over 700 runners on the "active" list is able to perform to
their maximum efficiency. In order to do this each eligible greyhound needs
to run every 3-6 days. These are but a few of the numerous responsibilities
of the racing secretary.
Greyhound Racing in America
Greyhound racing has been part of life in America since the early 1800's. Early farmers took advantage of the natural speed and hunting instinct of Greyhounds to control the jackrabbits that threatened vital crops. Informal races between dogs on neighboring farms became popular. These friendly community events were the forerunners of the modern Greyhound racing industry.
Greyhound racing still begins on the farm. Today, about 1,500 breeding farms in 43 states produce the canine athletes that have made Greyhound racing one of the nation's most popular spectator sports. Fans are able to watch the action at 46 tracks in 15 states. Several more states allow wagering on simulcast Greyhound races but do not offer live racing.
Greyhound Racing Organizations
Three national organizations are responsible for the management of Greyhound racing in America.
* The American Greyhound Track Operators Association (AGTOA), representing the 46 Greyhound tracks in the U.S.
* The National Greyhound Association (NGA), representing 3,500 Greyhound owners in North America. The NGA also serves as the official registry for racing Greyhounds. Any Greyhound competing at a track in the U.S. must be registered with the NGA.
* The American Greyhound Council (AGC), a joint effort of the AGTOA and the NGA, charged with the responsibility of managing Greyhound racing's animal welfare programs, including farm inspection, industry education and adoption.
The economic impact of Greyhound Racing
Greyhound tracks across America generate about $192 million in tax revenues for the states in which they operate. They employ more than 100,000 people and contribute more than $10 million per year to various charities and community causes, including about $1million a year to community-based Greyhound adoption efforts.
Greyhound breeding farms also contribute significantly to the economic health
of the states where they are located. Breeding farms and racing kennels represent
an annual payroll of about $37.5 million, and pump another $67.5 million per
year into their local economies through the purchase of needed goods and services.
Most Greyhound farms are family-run, and many are operated today by the children
and grandchildren of those who started the business years ago.
Frequenty asked Questions
About Greyhounds and Racing
1. How many Greyhounds are registered each year in the U.S.?
In 2000, a total of 26,464 pups were registered with the National Greyhound Association (NGA). Greyhounds must be registered with the NGA to race at any U.S. track. About 90 percent of all pups born are registered, factoring in pups lost from natural causes at birth or soon after.
2. How are Greyhounds trained to race?
Greyhounds begin training at about a year old. They run and chase by instinct, so initially their training consists of chasing a lure dragged along the ground. As they mature, they are taught to run on circular tracks, with the artificial lure suspended above the ground. At about a year and a half, they graduate to longer, oval tracks, starting boxes and competition.
3. How old are Greyhounds when they begin racing?
Most begin racing at about a year and a half, and continue to four years old. Some will race beyond their fifth birthday, and a select few past their sixth. Because they are generally well cared for and in excellent health, most Greyhounds live to twelve years or older.
4. Does racing come naturally to Greyhounds?
Greyhounds love to run, and are competitive by instinct. In racing, there is no stimulus other than the mechanical lure to make the Greyhounds run. When the starting box opens, the animal's natural instinct is to chase the lure and try to reach it first.
5. Is racing safe for Greyhounds?
The prevention of injuries is a high priority in Greyhound racing. The industry has funded extensive research at leading veterinary universities to find ways of ensuring animal safety and preventing racing injuries. If an injury does occur, every track has a veterinarian on the premises to respond immediately.
6. Does the industry use live lures?
No, the industry has banned the use of live lures in training and racing. In all states, state laws and/or racing rules prohibit the use of live lures in training or racing. Industry members who violate this practice may be expelled from the sport for life.
7. Where are Greyhounds kept when they are not racing?
Greyhounds live in climate-controlled kennels, usually on or near the tracks where they race. They are turned out several times daily for mild exercise and play, exercised on sprint paths and taken for walks.
8. What happens to Greyhounds after they retire?
About 90 percent of registered Greyhounds are adopted or returned to the farm as pets or for breeding purposes when they retire. Those that are unsuitable for adoption or breeding programs are humanely euthanized by licensed veterinarians under American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines. To reduce the need for these measures, the industry has committed to reducing breeding and expanding adoption efforts until 100 percent of all adoptable Greyhounds can be placed in loving homes after retirement.
9. Do Greyhounds make good pets?
Yes. To find out more click here.
The History of the Greyhound
The origin of the Greyhound is deeply rooted in ancient history. In fact, murals and paintings of dogs strikingly similar to today's Greyhound existed more than 4,000 years ago. Their pictures were etched on the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs; the Pharaohs valued them highly both as pets and as hunters.
Ancient Arabs so admired the physical attributes and speed of the Greyhound that they allowed the dog to share their tents and sleep atop their camels, privileges extended to no other canine breed. In early Arabian culture, the birth of a Greyhound ranked second in importance only to the birth of a son. The Greyhound is the only canine mentioned in Holy Scripture (Proverbs 30:29-31).
In 1014, King Canute of England enacted the Forest Laws, which decreed that only noblemen could own and hunt with Greyhounds. Later, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert became fans of the Greyhound, and kept several as pets.
By the 1800's, Greyhounds had become popular in America, where they were introduced to help farmers control jackrabbit populations. Because of their speed and natural instincts, Greyhounds soon became the focus of popular neighborhood competitions. These informal events were the forerunners of today's Greyhound racing industry.