Wheeling Island’s first venture into a futurity-type stakes event has been a rousing success.
Interest in the $140,000 Wheeling Island National was immediate after the stake event was announced back in 2015. There were 64 greyhounds entered in the stake for pups whelped (born) between July 1, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2014.
“I was very pleased with this year’s level of participation especially with it being the first time at Wheeling,” Racing Director Jim Gartland said. “Having 64 enter the qualifying rounds was really nice.”
Most of the entries opened their careers at Wheeling while others made their debuts at Mardi Gras, Melbourne, Naples, Palm Beach and Southland.
There already is interest for next year.
“We have 60 entered for the 2017 event which is fairly good considering some of the issues facing racing in West Virginia,” Gartland noted. “I hope to see the race run here for years to come.”
The favorites heading into Monday afternoon’s (May 30) final are Lester Raines Kennel’s Atascocita Sig, A Ray Kennel’s PJ Hold My Own and Brad Boeckenstedt Kennel’s JD Independence. Sig opened his career in Wheeling while Hold My Own and Independence shipped in from Southland for the stake.
Completing the championship final field are WW’s Glow N Show (Wayne Ward Kennel), Already Platinum (Jacobs Racing Kennel), SE’s Solid Cash (Lester Raines Kennel), PJ Porsche (Charter Kennel) and Red Octane (Jacobs Racing Kennel).
Red Octane replaced finalist JD Tight Fit (A Ray Kennel), who sustained a slight ankle injury and was scratched.
From the rail out, the post positions for the final are: 1—JD Independence; 2—PJ Porsche; 3—Atascocita Sig; 4—Already Platinum; 5—Red Octane; 6—SE’s Solid Cash; 7—WW’s Glow N Show; 8—PJ Hold My Own.
Following are capsule looks at the finalists by post position:
1 – JD Independence (Brad Boeckenstedt Kennel, trainer Chris Brill): had three straight wins in the qualifiers; struggled a bit after arriving from Southland, but found his groove right before the stake started; prefers an inside post.
2 – PJ Porsche (Charter Kennel, trainer Dorothy Tober): had two wins in the six qualifying races, one from a preferred outside box; a little inconsistent with her break but if she finds the front early she’s strong on the lead.
3 – Atascocita Sig (Lester Raines Kennel, trainer Joel Roden): won five out of his six qualifying rounds; has a decent break but packs a power rush to the first turn; can win from any box, likes and wants the front early.
4 – Already Platinum (Jacobs Racing Kennel, trainer Louise Strong): she was hot and cold in the early rounds, but had two huge wins to help her advance; can hit her break on occasion and will need to in order to be a factor.
5 – Red Octane (Jacobs Racing Kennel, trainer Louise Strong): won three early round races; predominantly a slow breaker and not a lot of rush to the first turn; will need a lot to full his way to be in the mix.
6 – SE’s Solid Cash (Lester Raines Kennel, trainer Joel Roden): only win in round six got her in the final but she hit the top four in five out of the six rounds; probably the best closer in the race but will need to maneuver her way to get part of the ticket.
7 – WW’s Glow N Show (Wayne Ward Kennel, trainer Ron Otto): had three wins in the qualifying rounds; seems to be improving with each start; breaking better lately but prefers an inside post position.
8 – PJ Hold My Own (A Ray Kennel, trainer Joe Palmer): won four of her six qualifying races; not lightning fast out of the box but possesses a strong drive to the first turn; always finds a way to get in the mix.
RACE ANALYSIS: Atascocita Sig was my choice before the stakes and no reason to change now. I think Sig gets out of the box fast, rushes to the early lead and wins handily.
Even though JD Independence and PJ Hold My Own are the logical trifecta ticket plays, I like the way WW’s Glow N Show has continued to improve each race. Despite an outside box, I think he’s in a good spot to fire early.
In the $1 trifecta, let’s go 3-7-all, 3-all-7 and 3 over 1, 6, 8.
Going to post in the consolation final will be Coach Vogs (Steve Sarras Kennel), Lady Sasquatch (Patriot/Taplin Kennel), Flying Wolf Pack (Patriot/Taplin Kennel), SG Outlaw Women (Rico Racing Kennel), Mystico (Clear The Way Kennel), GLS Lover Boy (Jacobs Racing Kennel), AMF Animus (A Ray Kennel) and PJ Pipe It Down (Charter Kennel).
Posts for the consolation will be drawn Saturday.
Photo: Racing Director Jim Gartland stands next to a board showing the post draw for Monday afternoon’s Wheeling Island National Championship.