Racing is a test of pure speed, combined with desire to chase the artificial lure without interfering with other hounds. Whippet racing looks a lot like greyhound racing, except that this sport is purely for ribbons and titles, and not for any gambling or profit. There are two main types of racing. In straight racing, Whippets break out of starting boxes wearing muzzles and numbered blankets. They run 200 yards, and the first one over the finish line is the winner. The dogs run in groups of 5 or 6. At a race meet, Whippets run four heats, and are matched with other Whippets who have shown similar ability in previous races. At the end of the meet, Whippets are assigned a score based on their performance in the four heats they have run. Their average score in their last three race meets determines the "grade" they are assigned. Grades are A, B, C, and D, with A being the fastest.
Oval track racing is almost exactly like straight racing, except that the race is run on a big U-shaped turn with an inner rail and for a distance of 220 to 350 yards. Smart oval racers know to go to the rail quickly and hold that position. Oval races are run in groups of three or four Whippets, and also include four heats. The grades are the same as for straight racing.
Straight racing is sponsored by the Whippet Racing Association (WRA) which awards the title W.R.Ch. (Whippet Race Champion), the North American Whippet Racing Association (NAWRA) and the Continental Whippet Association (CWA). NAWRA grants the Racing Champion title (R.Ch.) while CWA awards a variety of titles, some of which include a conformation (show ring) success requirement (Show and Racing Excellence). The National Oval Track Racing Association (NOTRA) sponsors oval racing, and awards the Oval Racing Championship (ORC) and the Supreme ORC (SORC).
Although most Whippets enjoy racing, and it is fun to compete with Whippets of similar ability in the lower grades, racing-titled Whippets these days come almost exclusively from breeding programs where the focus is on breeding for speed. Therefore, those who wish to compete successfully at a high level in this activity should acquire a dog from a breeder who races. Straight racing Whippets are not allowed to have any breed disqualification, but there are no requirements for oval racing. Racing and Oval Track are regionally located in CA, OR, WA, BC, OH, TX, NJ, DE, VA, and throughout the upper Midwest. NAWRA meets are most prevalent on the west coast, WRA racing is most common east of the Rockies, while CWA racing is currently being offered only in the Midwest. Oval track meets are generally found anywhere straight racing is offered.
Text Copyright Nancy Bennet