Greyhound racing is a sport in which greyhound dogs race around a track over a specified distance at a specialised track. Gambling is common for spectators of greyhound racing, making the choice of winners very important, with spectators often judging their choice of greyhound for a race based on the previous form of the dog.
Each greyhound race begins at a starting trap. In the U.S., greyhound races include eight dogs per race, while nations such as the U.K. and other European countries include six dogs per race. The choice of trap number is thought to have a bearing on the outcome of races at certain tracks; for example, the U.K.'s Romford track sees around 25 per cent of winners starting races from track 1. There is no known reason for a trap to produce more winners than another. Wet weather traps on the inside of a track often produce more winners because of the cleaner and more stable ground available.
Each track operating greyhound races provides spectators with a paper form guide for every dog registered to race during the meeting. This form guide, or tip sheet, is used by many spectators to aid their choices for the winner of each race. The form guide provides information on the last six races run by each greyhound, the tip sheet includes the grade of race the greyhounds raced in and their position at the end of the race. For the purpose of picking a winner, a greyhound that has moved up to a higher grade of race cannot be judged on previous form in lower grade races. The tip sheet provides information on the time the greyhound would have run a race in if the racing conditions would have been normal.
Factors that are judged to pick a greyhound winner include the age of the dog. For racing purposes, a greyhound reaches its peak between the ages of 2 and 3, according to Gamble. Young greyhounds that are not used to racing conditions can struggle to compete in their first races, while older dogs often move down through the grades of races as their racing prowess subsides. Weather and track conditions can also play a part in choosing winning greyhounds, with heavier dogs performing better in wet conditions, Talk Greyhounds reports. During the pre-race parade exuberant greyhounds are often chosen as winners over more docile dogs that are not expected to race as well.
Each year around £1.3 billion is wagered on greyhound racing in the U.S., the Greyhound Racing Association of America reports. As of 2011, there are 40 greyhound racing tracks operating in 12 states. A greyhound racing program usually consists of 15 races. During a race greyhounds can reach speeds of around 45 miles per hour, covering a distance of 5/16 of a mile in around 31 seconds.