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Thursday, November 2, 2017

DUBUQUE, Iowa – It made sense - the Iowa Greyhound Park’s Greyhound of the Year wins the track’s biggest race. Premium Grade of the Stidham Racing LLC Kennel won the $148,000 Iowa Breeders Cup pulling away by four lengths on Saturday, Oct, 21. It was an impressive performance against an impressive field.

Premium Grade, a 78-pounder, born Jan. 15, 2015 out of Djays Octane – Jet Force, broke sixth out of the four box.

“I had concerns,” said kennel owner Jon Stidham. “There was speed inside (of Premium Grade). I didn’t think he could break on top against all of that speed.”

But while Premium Grade was not a big break, “he was terrific at getting a good rush to the first turn,” said owner Bob Hardison.

Halfway to the first turn Premium Grade had the lead with Flex Fuel (Stidham) then Hilco Blaze (Superior) giving chase.

“When he hit the first turn,” said Stidham, “I turned to (trainer) Alicia (Bushey) and said ‘this race is over. ”

The lead quickly stretched out so that “by the backstretch,” said Stidham, “I was looking back to see who would finish second and third. I simply did not think any greyhound could run him down.”

Premium Grade breezed to the finish line to complete the 2017 season at IGP with a 27-19-4-0 record.

Runner-up laurels went to kennelmate Konomi, who took over second early on but never made a challenge. Konomi is 22-16-4-0.

Third went to Hilco Blaze, who left the boxes as the longshot in the field at 16-1. She finished seven lengths back in a creditable performance and is 28-5-5-3.

Kobayashi (Stidham) had battled with Premium Grade for the points lead during the four rounds of qualifying. He rallied late to take fourth and is 24-14-1-4.

Rf Calisto (Superior) had early trouble and faded just a bit in finishing fifth. He is 23-7-3-4.

Rf River (Superior) won this stakes last year but early trouble doomed any repeat hopes. River finished sixth and is 20-9-2-2.

L’s Swizzle (Boeckenstedt) broke seventh, also had trouble and finished seventh. She is 30-4-7-8.

Flex Fuel (Stidham) popped the eight box but was quickly out run and finished out of the picture in finishing last. Flex Fuel is 24-9-7-3.

The purse will equal 25 percent of the net breakage pool minus the breeder award set aside as follows: first – 40%; second – 20%; third – 10%; fourth – 8%; fifth – 7%; sixth – 6%; seventh – 5%; eighth – 4%.

For the patrons - Premium Grade paid $6.40, $3.20 and $3.00; Konomi paid $2.80 and $2.60; Hilco Blaze paid $5.00. The 3-4 Quiniela paid $12.40; the 4-3-5 Tri-Box paid $509.70; the Cent Superfecta 4-3-5-6 paid $74.83; the 8-5-4 $1 Pick 3 paid $19.80.

Past Iowa Breeders Cup Champions

1985 – JC’s Rocky; 1986 – AC Rocket Star; 1987 – Ale Mama’s Gent; 1988 – LW Buck Eve; 1989 – Teach Pressure; 1990 – Mystic Winds; 1991 – Noble Bahama; 1992 – Noble Bahama; 1993 – Lana Jane; 1994 – Crazy Eight; 1995 – Lightning Lester; 1996 – Lucky Loretta; 1997 – Rainier Replica; 1998 – Lucky Loretta; 1999 – Rainier Rainy; 2000 – PC Carol; 2001 – Badger Lisa; 2002 – Frank Furter; 2003 – Cals Pair A Dice; 2004 – Pounce It Pooch; 2005 – Spider Hole; 2006 – Sooner Rush; 2007 – Pat C Game Face; 2008 – Astartwelvegauge; 2009 – Hilco Vision; 2010 – End Of Story; 2011 – Superior Crown; 2012 – O Ya Scout; 2013 – Killer Carew; 2014 – Pat C Sabbath; 2015 – AJ’s Callie; 2016 – Rf River; 2017 – Premium Grade.

I'm a native of the Washington, D.C., area and a graduate of the University of Maryland. I'm now retired after a two-decade plus stint as the sports editor of the Council Bluffs, Iowa, Daily Nonpareil.