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Friday, November 23, 2018

Steve Sarras Kennel’s CET Bella Vic tops all qualifiers for the Saturday afternoon, Nov. 24, championship final of the $65,000 West Virginia Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association Panhandle Championship at Wheeling Island.

CET Bella Vic posted two victories and a second in the qualifying rounds to accumulate a leading 40 points. The eight finalists had a combined nine victories in the early rounds.

The A Ray and Steve Sarras kennels each have three of the stakes finalists, while the Imark and Lester Raines kennels have one apiece.

The championship final will be Race 17 on the Saturday afternoon card. From the rail out, the post positions for the final follow: 1—Goldiggin Decka, 2—CET Bella Vic, 3—Mac’s Charlotte, 4—Up In Smoke, 5—RS’s Magnum, 6—CET Razorback, 7—CET Hellen Ann, 8—Mac’s Trudeaux.

Following are capsule looks at the finalists:

1—GOLDIGGIN DECKA (Imark Kennel, trainer Scott Purdy) – had a win, a fourth and a fifth in the qualifiers to secure the last spot in the final; has been a ticket machine this year, hitting the pay sheet at a 74 percent clip; should get a good trip on the rail.

2—CET Bella Vic (Steve Sarras Kennel, trainer Frank Pellittere) – points leader in the preliminary rounds with a pair of wins and a second; among the track’s leaders with 15 wins so far this season; clicking on all cylinders, expect another fast start.

3—MAC’S CHARLOTTE (A Ray Kennel, trainer Joe Palmer) – consistent throughout the qualifiers with a pair of seconds and a third; majority of wins at Tri-State in 3/8; captured the WVGOBA Middle Distance Championship at Tri-State in May; finishing speed may catch ticket.

4—UP IN SMOKE (A Ray Kennel, trainer Joe Palmer) – had a win, a third and a fifth in the early rounds; victory in the semis earned a shot in the final; opened his career at Wheeling, advancing to Grade A, before going to Tri-State in June; needs to be in the mix early.

5—RS’S MAGNUM (Lester Raines Kennel, trainer Joel Roden) – had back-to-back victories and a fourth in the qualifying round races; broke sharp and rushed to the first turn in all of his qualifying races – will need to repeat those starts to have a shot at the trophy.

6—CET RAZORBACK (Steve Sarras Kennel, trainer Frank Pellittere) – had a win, a second and a seventh in the early round races; not a lot of box speed, but has a power rush to the first turn; seems to have more success hitting the ticket when driving from outside holes.

7—CET HELLEN ANN (Steve Sarras Kennel, trainer Frank Pellittere) – had a win and two thirds in the preliminary round starts; has hit the trifecta ticket in seven straight starts, going back to the WVGOBA Juvenile where she was runner up in the final; has closing speed.

8—MAC’S TRUDEAUX (A Ray Kennel, trainer Joe Palmer) – had a first, a third and a fifth in the qualifiers; among the track leaders at Tri-State with 22 wins on the year, competing at both the 5/16 and 3/8 distances; will need a clean trip and position early, can close late.

RACE ANALYSIS: In many stakes finals, the break decides the outcome of the race. I foresee that being the case in the WVGOBA Panhandle Stakes final.

CET Bella Vic has been rolling throughout the qualifying rounds and I expect that to continue. With Mac’s Charlotte having little box speed, CET Bella Vic should get a clean break and room to rush to the first turn.

There’s a good chance Goldiggin Decka will fire from the one hole with CET Bella Vic and the pair will battle for the early lead. If CET Bella Vic goes to the front, it will be difficult for any greyhound to run her down. If Goldiggin Decka gets the early lead, look for CET Bella Vic to catch the frontrunner coming home.

Three greyhounds – Mac’s Charlotte, CET Razorback and CET Hellen Ann – have shots to end up on the bottom half of the ticket.

Let’s go $1 trifecta, 2-1-all, 2-all-1 and 2 over 3, 6 and 7. For a superfecta play, go 2/1/367/367.

Just missing a spot in the final were Hit Me Chief (Steve Sarras Kennel) with 22 points and three greyhounds – CET Alexis Cream (Steve Sarras Kennel), RS’s Buckeyebuck (Lester Raines Kennel) and GF Anicon (Patriot/Taplin Kennel) – all with 21 points. The last finalist had 23 points.

I was introduced to greyhound racing by a friend in the late 1970s at Wheeling Downs and fell in love with the sport and the athletes immediately. Throughout the years, I have developed a deep passion for racing. In the mid 1990s, I started writing a weekly greyhound column and shortly thereafter became a writer for The Greyhound Review.

I have enjoyed watching and writing about these wonderful competitors, including All-Americans DD's Nelson, Kiowa Sweet Trey, Gene's Champion, WW Apple Jax, Greys Royalcrown, Nimby TP Jan, Hi Noon Hero, Gable Sour Cream, KB's Ruckus and Cry Case.