Greyhound News
Friday, July 27, 2018

It is the second shortest feature race in the stable of feature and stakes races at Southland Park. Since 2009, the Chris M. Chance Memorial has been run to honor a volunteer who dedicated numerous hours and resources to our local greyhound adoption program and this race was created in his namesake. Held in mid-July each year, some of the best sprinters at the track, many freshly coming off competition in the Southland Derby, make a quick pit stop in this event for a chance to earn another trophy blanket to their kennels.

For the first time though, this race switched gears over to the middle distance as it was expected that the “Two For The Money” stakes would take many of the good sprinters leaving a less talented field for this event. When the big stakes was scratched and delayed for another year, the decision was to go ahead and keep this year’s version of the Memorial at the 600 yard course. The end result was one of the best finishes to a race you will see, regardless of the distance.

Sixteen greyhounds began competition the previous Sunday (July 15) fielding two races of eight greyhounds each. Only the top four would advance to the main event which was held this past Saturday evening. TUXEDO (Charter Kennel) has been busy competing in stakes races over the past couple of months and switched back to the 660 yard course and finished fourth in the preliminary round to squeeze into the championship race. Also switching distances for this event was T’S CHARLIE TUNA (T and T Kennel), who other than SUPERIOR FUGUE (Robert Thorne, LLC) was the only other greyhound that earned a win on Sunday. What was more impressive at the time though, was that TUNA just got done demolishing a field in “AA” sprint by nine lengths before switching over for this race.

Other qualifiers included BGR SHIRLYTEMPLE (A Ray Kennel) who won two of her last three starts at this distance prior to this event. She just got edged out in the preliminary round by a length after grabbing the lead late in her race. IMARK CHARLIE (Steve M. Sarras Kennel) was rolling, albeit in lower grades during the end of June on the Razorback Course and earned a driving third place finish on Sunday to cement his spot in the finals. CARMELA JEAN (David Blair Kennel) is an early speed specialist on the middle distance course who arguably had the best three race streak coming into this championship with a win and two close second place efforts. BIG BLACK PEARL (Plum Creek Kennel) was the surprise of the field in many circles, or at least in the conversation with DIEGO (Ryan Farms Kennel). PEARL was not running well as the month of June closed out but he did rebound some in July, coming into the finals with three straight show finishes. DIEGO was the lowest grade greyhound in the race (B), but it wasn’t from lack of effort. Five of his last six starts finished somewhere in the money, three of them being third place efforts.

As wagering closed on the fourth race of that Saturday evening’s card, name value appeared in earnest on the tote board as TUXEDO ended up being bet the favorite to win the race although he hadn’t won a race in about a month, and that was on the 583 yard course. A trio of greyhounds all were considered second favorites with SUPERIOR FUGUE, T’S CHARLIE TUNA and IMARK CHARLIE all earning about 4 to 1 on the big board. The rest of the field was labeled longshots, with only BGR SHIRLYTEMPLE at 9 to 1 being the one under double digit odds.

The championship race would feature three lead changes and one heck of a far turn run. The first lead was held by #6 BIG BLACK PEARL, albeit just for about the first dozen steps out of the starting box. A huge opening on the rail allowed #1 BGR SHIRLYTEMPLE to take full advantage as she rushed and held the lead for the better part of the race. TUXEDO was able to rush up quickly and challenge for the lead, but never could overtake the leader and fatigue started to set in some in the far turn. The most impressive race was run by the eventual winner, #2 SUPERIOR FUGUE. Despite breaking mid-pack, he stayed in contention and out of trouble until his late speed kicked in on the backstretch run. He easily passed both TUXEDO and BGR SHIRLYTEMPLE in the far turn and pulled away late, winning by 2 ½ lengths. This white, red and brindle male’s win was predicted early by assistant racing secretary Kevin Lidey.

As the pack went into the escape turn, and with SUPERIOR FUGUE in fifth place at the time, Lidey said confidently “the two is going to win this”. In almost synchrony, it appeared the greyhound kicked it into another gear and began his eventual race winning drive. It took some others until the far turn to come to the same conclusion.

The win marked the third consecutive win for SUPERIOR FUGUE who earned $4,500 for owner Alan Hill and trainer Timothy Thorne of the $10,000 added purse for the race. BGR SHIRLYTEMPLE grabbed runner up honors and $2,250 for her connections. The rest of the finishing order went TUXEDO (3rd - $1,000), T’S CHARLIE TUNA (4th - $550), DIEGO (5th - $500), CARMELA JEAN (6th - $450), BIG BLACK PEARL (7th - $400) and IMARK CHARLIE ($350).

UP NEXT – The most talented compilation of greyhounds in the States will take about a month off from stakes racing as we prepare for our biggest event, the Festival of Stakes, which kicks off with qualifying in early September.


Shane Bolender