Greyhound News
Thursday, January 3, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A dozen patrons greeted their Derby Lane darling Wednesday as she stepped briefly onto the track tarmac.

Farmer Racing kennel’s Flamenco Dancer had done her job for the evening.

Following a stirring semifinal victory by a nose over Kentucky Boy of Cal Holland kennel in what turned into a two-dog match race, Flamenco Dancer could finally join her fans in looking ahead to Saturday – when the front-running greyhound faces seven rivals for the championship in the $18,000 1925 Historical Inaugural.

The featured 10th race (10 p.m.), a 550-yard sprint, is Derby Lane’s oldest stakes race in its 94th year.

Flamenco Dancer and Lashmet kennel’s LK’s Crush N It, both of whom extended their career-high win streaks to six in Wednesday’s qualifying, appear to be the dogs to beat. But Flamenco Dancer’s story is filled with sentiment.

The female from a litter by Barcelona Boss and Lets Go Flying will be in her seventh finale from 11 stakes appearances, and continues to look for her first crown. She has been a runner-up three times, including her past two stakes finals since October in the $10,000 Thanksgiving and the $10,000 Howl-O-Ween.

For the dog that turns 3 on Jan. 18, being at Derby Lane is an accomplishment in itself for Flamenco Dancer with kennel owner-trainer John Farmer leading the way.

Brooke Busby, one of Flamenco Dancer’s owners, revisited how the greyhound arrived at Derby Lane from the Claflin, Kan., farm of Monte Jacobs, who bred her and maintains an ownership share. “(Flamenco Dancer) was headed for retirement, which is part of the fun,’’ Busby said. “She would interfere with other dogs, so we didn’t really expect much out of her . . . . It was a chance we took. “Monte said if you want her, haul her down (to Derby Lane), and find a kennel for her. John was gracious enough to say he would work with her, and he worked her a long time to get her to run.’’

Flamenco Dancer has developed into one of the track’s best 550-yard sprinters since breaking her maiden in June 2017 in her first start on Florida’s West Coast at 14-1 odds. She has 39 victories from 108 lifetime races, and finished second to two-time reigning top dog Jiminy Reno of Cal Holland kennel in the recent July-to-December meet win standings – losing by a 22-21 margin. Flamenco Dancer has more than $36,000 in career earnings, much more than the undisclosed paltry sum that Sharon Dippel, Misty Markel and Busby said they paid to join Jacobs for ownership in the 62-pound athlete.

Busby and Markel are residents of Lakeland, Fla., and Dippel resides in Dade City, Fla. They travel more than an hour to watch Flamenco Dancer race.

“It’s pretty amazing,’’ Markel said. “It’s pretty cool to come over (to Derby Lane) any race, but to have one in a stakes final is something else.’’

Flamenco Dancer is the third dog that the trio has owned together, but the first to be at Derby Lane.

“We came in to greyhounds through adoption, so we were joking one day like it would be fun to own a dog,’’ Busby said. “Then Sharon got in touch with Monte, and things just kind of rolled from there. “A lot of smaller owners own dogs and never see them get to A grade, must less do what (Flamenco Dancer) has done. It’s really something.’’

Flamenco Dancer drew box 6 in the championship race. Other starters from the rail: Lockjaw (ABC Racing), Po Dunk (Floyd), Kentucky Boy, LK’s Crush N It, Cabao (D’Arcy), Fly Westward Ho (Everett Racing) and Barts Slim Shady (Bartley Corporation).

First place pays $7,700.

“We will be (at Derby Lane) Saturday,’’ Busby said. “We come over for all of her stakes finals.’’

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.