Ebro greyhound racing, where dogs are competitively raced along a track, first got its start in the United States around 1967, but the track itself was originally founded in 1955 by a Greek immigrant by the name of Tom Trulis, who was a businessman from Miami. He came to the United States when he was 12 years old. When he was older he pursued a career at a horse racing track in Rhode Island. He became the owner of the concessions. After he had saved up enough money he invested it into a hotel and thought the area would enjoy greyhound racing. He owned and operated Ebro for 12 years.
When Trulis decided to sell the racing track, an interested prospect named Luther Hess saw potential in Ebro. Hess had a history in greyhound racing so he formed a Tampa group and bought the complex. Hess later went on to be inducted into the greyhound racing hall of fame in 1985.
Greyhound racing has always been an interesting event, however it was never as popular as it is becoming today which is partly due to it’s newer family appeal but also the low admission rates, affordable snack bar, and beverages. Individuals attending don’t have to place bets on any of the dogs in the race but it’s an option for those interested. There are also table games for those that aren’t as into dog racing. For dog lovers, there is a greyhound adoption program.
For anyone interested in placing bets, you’ll need an Official Racing Program. Inside it lists the races for that day or evening as well as information about the dogs that are racing such as statistics, race odds, and answers to any frequently asked questions that attendees may have while at the park.
There is a $2 minimum betting policy. These can be placed by simply walking up to a betting window. Betters inform the employee which race they are interested in making a wager on, what the anticipated outcome will be and of course which dogs will likely be involved. The bet types are divided up into categories: Win, Place, and Show. Options for creative bets such as quinellas and trifectas are also available.
An example of placing a bet would be, “$6.00 on dog number 3 to WIN race number 5.” It’s that easy. Bets don’t have to be large to win. That’s why so many people are flocking to the betting windows.
The idea of greyhound racing originated in Hendon, England back in 1876 when six greyhounds were raced along a straight track near the Welsh Harp reservoir. Dogs were later used in coursing, where they raced after a live animal used as bait (such as a bunny for example). Coursing was a hunting technique developed by the wealthy and some commoners with sighthounds. Animals used in coursing involved: rabbits, hares, deer, foxes, antelope, gazelles, jackals and even wolves.
When the straight racing track idea didn’t take off, a circular version of greyhound racing was developed. In this version, a mechanical hare was used as bait. Created in 1912 by an American named Owen Patrick Smith, the first greyhound tracks were built with stands in California. This gave birth to parimutuel betting, where all bets are placed in a pool. The payoff odds are shared among all of the winners based on the number of bets placed before the race. Owen Patrick Smith disliked the idea of using a live jackrabbit as bait and thus was inspired to create a mechanical one.
Today, forty states have made greyhound racing illegal. Five have closed their tracks and ceased operations. Only five states allow pari-mutuel greyhound racing: Iowa, Arkansas, Alabama, West Virginia and Florida. Oregon, Texas, Wisconsin, and Kansas all have tracks but are not operating any current dog racing activities.
All dogs love to run, so why specifically race just greyhounds? Wouldn’t it be more entertaining to see other breeds race too? Well as great as that sounds, greyhounds were selected for racing for a reason.
First off, greyhounds hunt by sight, not smell, which makes them different from most other canine breeds. Next, greyhounds also have an extensive history of being graceful, agile runners. No other breed could possibly compare to the breed’s incredible speed.
In ancient times, the greyhound breed was first referenced in Egypt approximately 4,000 years ago. Some were such loyal companions they were mummified and placed in Egyptian tombs. Around 800 B.C.E. Homer’s “The Odyssey” mentions a loyal and devoted greyhound named Argus. Another reference regarding the breed stems around the same time period. The goddess Diana was depicted as having hunting dogs that appeared very similar to greyhounds.
During the Middle Ages, nobles fell in love with the breed and outlawed them from being owned by commoners. Only the noble who had express permission from the king were allowed to breed the dogs.
All greyhound racing dogs are kept in kennels. Each puppy is encouraged to run and socialize at a young age. At three months of age they receive ear tattoos, one in each ear. One specifies the puppy’s date of birth while the other is an ID number for identification purposes for the National Greyhound Association.
As the puppies age, their training begins to include the identification of a mechanical lure. They are each encouraged to chase it. Each time the puppies burst forth from their kennels they are all trained to not be distracted and to only pursue the lure. The entire training process takes about two years to complete.
Greyhounds that are not fast enough for greyhound racing or too old have always been traditionally put down. Dogs that aren’t reliable are a profit loss for the racing industry which would rather pay to put down the animals than to make special accommodations for them. However, more racing complexes have greyhound adoption programs set up so that euthanizing these unsatisfactory dogs can be avoided and they can find loving homes with good families.