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Monday, March 5, 2018

John Valazquez of Capabal kennel won his second consecutive stakes race Saturday at Derby Lane with a box-to-wire victory in the 43rd running of the $64,000 Sprint Classic.

In a field loaded with early speed, John Valazquez was the quickest out of the starting box from the No. 2 post. He sped to a three-length lead at the first call, an advantage he maintained until he reached the finish line in 30.26 seconds. It was John Valazquez’s third best clocking from 101 starts on the 550-yard course.

“He just had to have his two steps out of the (starting) box and off he went,’’ Capabal trainer Belinda Parker said. “We said he had to get his two steps, and he’d be in good shape from there.’’

John Valazquez, who won his first stakes in the $18,000 1925 Historical Inaugural Jan. 6, paid $8 to win as the second wagering favorite. The 38-month-old male from a litter by Dragon Fire and Awesome Fling earned $25,000 with his 44th career win, and elevated his lifetime earnings to more than $58,000 for owner Kathleen Thurber of Vernon, Fla.

“It was like whoever broke first (would win),’’ Capabal kennel owner Henry Parker said. “If my dog missed his break, he’s done for.’’

Kaias Blackjack (Floyd kennel) finished second. It was another five lengths back to third-place finisher PJ Backupoffme (Rangel). Two-time defending track win champion and 2017 All-America first-team choice RT’s Bo Jangles (Cal Holland) was fourth as the 3-5 betting favorite. He was followed by Light Her Up (Abernathy), SE’s Wepon X (Nova), Imark Keefer (Abernathy) and CH Nuttin Honey (Lester Raines).

John Valazquez also tied RT’s Bo Jangles for the current meet win lead with eight victories.

Capabal has won the Sprint Classic, Derby Lane’s richest sprint stakes, three times in the past seven years (Joey Ice, 2014; and SE’s Chewie, 2012).

Don Jensen

I have been a sports writer in the newspaper industry for 40 years: working in Florida, Maryland and Virginia. I moved to Florida in 1984 after serving as the publicity director of Charles Town Race Track, a thoroughbred facility in West Virginia. I reside in Tampa, Fla., and cover the Tampa Bay area parimutuel scene – both greyhounds and thoroughbreds – and write about high school sports for the Tampa Bay Times.