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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A torrential rain, one that forced Derby Lane to cancel a performance at the recently-concluded six-month meet, cost Flamenco Dancer a start.

That missed opportunity possibly cost the Farmer Racing kennel greyhound a chance to share a win championship with reigning two-time top dog Jiminy Reno of Cal Holland kennel.

Now, Flamenco Dancer has her shot at raining on everyone else’s parade.

The 35-month-old daughter of Barcelona Boss and Lets Go Flying is one of the favorites Wednesday in the $18,000 1925 Historical Inaugural, Derby Lane’s first stakes race of 2019.

The 94th annual event, a 550-yard sprint, is the track’s oldest stakes. Sixteen dogs will compete in Wednesday’s two qualifiers in Races 6 (8:52 p.m.) and 10 (10:01). The top four finishers in each race advance to Saturday’s championship event. First place pays $7,700. Flamenco Dancer, who will start in Race 6 from box 8, will look for her career-high sixth consecutive victory as will Lashmet Corporation’s LK’s Crush N It (Race 10, box 1). Both greyhounds are 5-2 morning-line favorites in their respective races.

No entry has as much stakes experience as Flamenco Dancer, who is still looking for her first stakes title. The Inaugural will be her 11th stakes appearance, and she has advanced to the final six previous times. The 62-pound greyhound has been a runner-up in three stakes, the most recent a narrow loss on Nov. 24 to Derby Lane kennel champion Everett Racing’s Flying Amity in the $10,000 Thanksgiving. Flamenco Dancer made the finale in the 2018 Inaugural, finishing sixth to Capabal kennel’s John Valazquez.

“She’s been in quite a few stakes without winning one,’’ kennel owner-trainer John Farmer said. “She needs to get over the hump and win one.’’

Flamenco Dancer, who has won 38 of 107 career races, didn’t appear to be a threat to Jiminy Reno for top-dog honors at the recent meet which concluded Monday. Flamenco Dancer trailed her rival in wins, 22-14, on Nov. 10. But Jiminy Reno lost his ensuing eight outings, and after Dec. 19, he failed to make another start while given a break from racing.

Flamenco Dancer cut into the deficit immediately. She won seven of her next 11 starts, and Farmer believed his standout had a chance to catch Jiminy Reno. But the Dec. 20 elimination of the matinee performance eventually cost Flamenco Dancer one more start.

Her final race of the meet was Thursday for owners Brooke Busby, Sharon Dippel, Monte Jacobs and Misty Markel. Jiminy Reno won the title by a 22-21 margin.

“When the Monday draw came out on (this past) Friday, I was thinking she should be in Monday,’’ Farmer said. “So I looked at the entries and she wasn’t in there. I was thinking, ‘Wow, how come she didn’t draw in?’ Then I realized the first round (of the Inaugural) was on Wednesday, and there was no way she could possibly get another start.

“When they had that cancellation, it cost her a couple days. She would have been in (this past) Saturday night, and she would have been able to tie (Jiminy Reno).

“Still, (Flamenco Dancer and Jiminy Reno) both had good meets. It’s just unfortunate she wasn’t able to run one more race and (possibly) tie it up.’’

Entries for Wednesday’s Inaugural qualifiers in post-position order:

Race 6 – Fly Westward Ho (Everett Racing kennel), Po Dunk (Floyd), Katie Clawson (Capabal), KB’s Stasny (Patriot), Hi Noon Express (Nova), Kentucky Boy (Cal Holland), It’s My Life (Xtrem Racing) and Flamenco Dancer.

Race 10 – LK’s Crush N It, Hi Noon Pride (Nova), Flying Kelly E (Everett Racing), CH Nuttin Honey (Lester Raines), Pondas Top Wave (Abernathy), Barts Slim Shady (Bartley Corporation), Lockjaw (ABC Racing) and Cabao (D’Arcy).

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.