3/8ths of a mile greyhound races have long been a favorite of the pari-mutuel bettor and fans of the Sport of Queens. The 3/8ths of a mile distance is long enough to be a good gauge of a greyhound’s stamina but not so long that some strong sprinters can’t make a go of it. The American record for the 1,980 foot 3/8ths of a mile was set by a greyhound named Okie Lynda in 2004, when she ran the course in 36.28 seconds. Virtually every track runs at least one 3/8ths race each performance, with some having a much larger number of these events on their schedules.
Just because a greyhound can show a late closing kick on the shorter 5/16ths of a mile does not automatically mean that this quality will translate into the 3/8ths of a mile contest. The starting box is located about halfway down the backstretch of the oval, midway on the upper side if you were looking at it from the track’s grandstands, so the dogs will be breaking out of it and running immediately into a turn. This bend is the far turn for the sprinters but it is the all important first turn for the routers running a 3/8ths. More 3/8ths races are won and lost in this first sixteenth of a mile than anywhere else on the racing surface due to the fact that there is much bumping and crowding happening here as the dogs try to negotiate the turn.
This makes the dog’s breaking ability important, especially if it relies on its early foot to carry them to the front ahead of possible trouble. A dog that is leading entering the first turn in a 3/8ths of a mile greyhound race has a huge advantage over the pack, as some of them are jostled back, and out of contention, unless they possess a great deal of late running ability. More often than not the dog that is chasing the leader as they now head down the front stretch is also one that shows early speed; these dogs, unless they catch the one in front right away, are usually unable to muster the necessary strength to win the race.
The second turn in a 3/8ths greyhound race, which is the far right side of the oval, has much less slammin’ and jammin’ since the dogs are more spread out as they enter it. This is not to say that it is always clear sailing, but as a rule the collisions involve dogs that are trying to force their way by other dogs on the inside part of the track. The leaders are still running strong, with the closers trying to get into position to make a charge at them by passing the dogs that are falling out of contention. As the greyhounds progress down the backstretch and past the starting box where they originally broke out of, they have gone a quarter of a mile but still have an eighth of one to traverse before the finish line decides a winner.
Any bumping that occurs in the last turn of a 3/8ths, the bend that the dogs broke into right out of the box a few seconds ago, is typically a result of charging dogs running into tiring dogs as they head for home. Once the dogs straighten out, it is like any other greyhound race, with the frontrunners trying to hold onto their advantage and the closers trying to play catch up.
There have been so many great 3/8ths of a mile racers over the decades in this country that it is hard to pick just a handful to talk about, but any mention of 3/8ths greatness must include the fabulous Downing. This great racer of the late Seventies was primarily a sprinter, but astounded everyone by maintaining his incredible speed throughout the entire extra yardage to handily win the American Derby in 1977. The Seventies were the Golden Age for 3/8ths greyhounds as Downing was joined by such stalwarts as K’s Flak, Blazing Red, Derek’s Cadillac, and P. L. Greer. Such monstrous late speed demons as Malka and Unruly made the rounds of the 3/8ths stakes race back then, and one of the greatest of all the routers, Pat C Rendevous, ran at Palm Beach Kennel Club in the mid 1990s, winning a remarkable 36 races in a row. Some of the best 3/8ths runners today include Palm Beach’s Homicide and K B’s Shine On and Derby Lane’s Extruding Dream and Grey’s Huntington. They all feature different styles, some capable of going to the front and opening up insurmountable leads while others weave their way through the pack, picking off one dog at a time on their way to triumph.