Dogs (d) out are an often overlooked handicapping factor in determining a workout on the main or on the turf.
Handicappers have to play Sherlock Holmes, at times, to make sure they have to have accurate data and details to make a proper assumption or opinion.
Dogs (d) out simply means a cone was placed out off the inner rail, and placed a distance off the inside to save and maintain a fresh strip of grass or dirt for later in racing, or as simply as letting some of the grass get a respite from daily pounding.
Dogs (d) are mostly used on turf but can be also placed on a muddy or drying out main track in an effort to save the inside part of the track from being chewed up before the races in the afternoon.
Dogs out is universal notation in your workout lines listed as (d), however, the (d) does not tell you how far dogs were out from the rail.
In California, the inner rail may have already been placed 36 feet out and (d) dogs may be another 24 to 36 feet out from the inner rail. To us that is about 72 feet from the actual rail.
At Palm Meadows (PMM), in Boynton Beach. Florida, the very popular training center for Gulfstream Park and South Florida, has grass training four to six days a week, and the (d) can be from 8 feet to 120 feet out on any given day.
If handicappers are to judge grass works around the dogs, they would have to know how far the dogs are out. Obviously, if a horse is traveling around the dogs at 120 feet he would get a far slower time than a horse traveling around the dogs at 8 feet. Elementary, my dear Watson.
Horse # 1 worked on the turf over a period of 4 weeks training period on a turf course with dogs up(d)
Time Dogs out in feet
Horse # 2 worked at similar distances over a 4 weeks training period on a turf course with dogs up(d)
Time Dogs out in feet
If you looked at naked times only you would be missing a key ingredient to the works. Horse # 2 twice worked around the dogs at 120 feet, and covered a different route with the dogs out that far, and you can see how slower the times were. The furthest you run from the rail even with cones adjusted for the distance, the slower the times can be, as the horse has negotiate more ground around the turn. The lower the setting, for example, the faster the times with less of the work negotiated around a turn.
I know the first question that comes to your mind, why can't you adjust? Harder said than done, trainers instruct riders to move at different speeds and lanes thru the turns depending on the distance dogs are out.
Having said that at Palm Meadows and Saratoga’s Oklahoma turf Course there is an effort to move the cones to reflect the distance they are traveling, however, I have found it to be like anything else in this industry, subjective.
Adjusting times cannot be done with any kind of accuracy, because of the differences in ground covered on the turns. The lower the dogs sit on the turns the less ground a horse covers on the turn itself, the more distance away from the inside, the more ground to cover.
Additionally, as we mentioned above, for example, trainers have their horses placed 4 or 5 wide off the dogs affecting time and ground covered. Thus, making times rather indigestible.
My personal feeling is time doesn't mean everything on turf it’s a how they do it.
The same can be said about times on the Oklahoma turf course at Saratoga. Horseplayer must have access to dogs out each and every day of turf works. Some horses at both Palm Meadows and Oklahoma turf at Saratoga work inside the cones on the rail on the same day that horses are working outside at 48 feet on a given day. So, you could have a 58.4b on the turf and everyone would else would be in 1:04 range, the crews at Saratoga\'s Oklahoma track and at Palm Meadows are excellent at giving you the (d) up on the ones around the dogs. So, the horse inside the dogs gets a 58.4b only, outside the dogs 1:04b(d).
One fallacy of this practice is that he horse inside the dogs will get a bullet as the workout rankings do not differentiate between dogs or no dogs. Again, a misleading piece of information.
Turf works at Palm Meadows are one of the best sources of winners in South Florida especially when the dogs are out. It's elementary.