The Greyhounds at Ebro Greyhound Park and Poker Room

The History and Life of the Racing Greyhound

The origin of the greyhound is deeply rooted in ancient history. Murals and paintings of the 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 tombs of ancient Egyptians. Pharaohs rated them first among animals, both pets and humans.

The ancient Egyptians 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 in importance only to the birth of a son. In Persia, Rome and Greece, the greyhound enjoyed similar stature and is the only canine mentioned in the Holy Scripture (Proverbs 30:29-31).

It is documented that the greyhound arrived in England over 3,500 years ago. Queen Elizabeth I initiated the first formal rules of greyhound coursing around the 16th  century, introducing the "Sport of Queens."

In the late 1800s, the greyhound was imported to American and coursing events soon followed. Greyhound racing, as we know it today, began around 1912 when Owen Patrick Smith invented the mechanical lure, making racing around a circular track possible. The first circular track opened in 1919 in Emeryville, California, in the San Francisco bay area, paving the way for the development of the greyhound racing industry in America.

Pari-mutuel wagering was legalized in 1931 when Florida passed legislation allowing for both greyhound and horse racing. The newly established Racing Commission immediately granted operation permits for greyhound tracks, including Palm Beach Kennel Club, which opened in 1932.

History has proven that the greyhound is an animal born to run. Originally a hunting dog because of its speed, a greyhound will chase anything that moves. To run is the fulfillment of the greyhound's basic interest. They run for their own benefit and for the benefit and enjoyment of others.

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, Raising and Training
A racing greyhound begins its life after a gestation period of about 60 days. Litters generally range from five to nine pups. At birth, it will weigh from three-quarters to 1¾ pounds, growing to a normal size of between 65 and 75 pounds within about a year. When a pup is three months old, it is given an identifying tattoo. All greyhound must be registered with the National Greyhound Association is Abilene, Kansas. With the registration, the owner submits three possible names - no longer than 16 characters - in order of preference.

If the owner's first choice is not allowed by the NGA, his second pick is then considered. A normal breeding farm, a pup's home for the first year, consists of stud dog quarters, brood female quarters, whelping kennels, puppy quarters, exercise yards and kennel runs of various sizes.

After two months, a greyhound gets his first chance to exercise his legs in a run. At 1 year old, pups begin training on a small schooling track where they are hand held and the mechanical lure is in sight at all times.

As its ability progresses, a greyhound graduates to a starting box, longer racing distances and larger fields of competition. While still on the training track, a greyhound establishes his running style (Inside, outside and early speed or closer) which may never change during its whole career.

Racing Kennels
After completing sufficient training, a greyhound is sent to a racing kennel to begin its racing career. Each kennel has a trainer who is responsible for its care. A trainer might have 40-50 racing greyhounds in his kennel and attends to all of their needs. The trainer will get to know each greyhound by name (both racing and kennel names) and will be able to describe each affectionately by their individual characteristics. A greyhound, like any other athlete is extremely well-cared for by its trainer, They are fed a diet which might include, beef, vegetables and high protein dog meal.

Each greyhound must have a registered owner and race for a registered kennel. Every kennel enters into a contract with a track to race a certain number of greyhounds during the track's season. The names of the greyhound to be raced are submitted to the track. Those dogs will run at the track and cannot run at another racing facility without permission from the track with which the contract was signed. Because of this system, a close relationship develops between a greyhound and track personnel, who show pride in their dog. Track officials often grant permission of their dogs to compete in stake races at other racetracks and their pride really shows through when their greyhound returns home a winner.

Two hours before post time, each greyhound is weighed and that weight can be no more than 1½ pounds higher or lower than its set weight or it will be scratched.  Greyhounds are taken by track personnel to lock-up area, which is in full view of the public. While in the paddock area, before post time of each race, the paddock judge checks each greyhound's tattoo and markings against identification records (Bertillon Card). These Bertillon Cards include 56 different identification marks, assuring absolute identity.

From the time they get to the track for weigh-in until the time they go back to their kennels after racing, greyhounds are under strict security provided by authorities representing the State Racing Commission, which regulates the tracks. Urine samples are collected by the state veterinarians and sent to labs to assure the absence if foreign substances. NO greyhound can race under medication. A veterinarian is on the track premises during all races.

The greyhounds are blanketed, paraded on the track and taken to the starting box, all in full view of the racing public. This ensures the interest of the betting public is safeguarded.