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Friday, May 10, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The $20,000 Remembrance Stakes kicks off Saturday at Derby Lane.

For any of the 32 participants, it may be challenging to achieve the effect that the 2018 event had on its respective champion.

Jiminy Reno used last year’s Remembrance title as a springboard to a sensational season. Competing in his first stakes series, the Cal Holland kennel sprinter dominated the Remembrance for the first of three stakes titles in the year – paving the way for several individual accolades.

He was the Rural Rube award winner as the nation’s top sprinter. He was captain of the All-America team. He was the national win leader with 45. He captured both six-month win titles at Derby Lane.

“I knew he could run when we were first schooling him in,’’ Holland said after the Remembrance. “He just kept winning. Once he hit Grade A, he’s never looked back.

“You never know what they’re going to be until after you’ve schooled them and try to break them in. Then, they show what their potential is.’’

The Remembrance, Derby Lane’s final 550-yard stakes of the 2018-19 season, is a series for young dogs. The first of four qualifying rounds is Saturday with races in 4 (8:10 p.m.), 6 (8:39), 8 (9:13) and 10 (9:47). Eight greyhounds with the most accumulative points advance to the finale, scheduled for the Memorial Day matinee performance on May 27. First place pays $9,000.

This is the third year for the Remembrance. Nova kennel’s Poweroftraction captured the inaugural event, the dog’s only stakes title. Owned by Dr. Rodger Barr and wife Donna Barr of Minneapolis, Minn., Poweroftraction did not win any of four qualifying rounds (finished second three times and seventh once) before scoring a box-to-wire victory in the championship race. The daughter of Djays Octane and Kiowa WW Reyna won by three-quarters of a length in 30.53 seconds, paying $23 for kennel owners Hans and Elly Limmer and trainer Miguel Valenzuela.

“She ran well early (in her career), and she beat the best. Then, she got in a little slump (and had) a few bad holes,’’ Hans Limmer said after Poweroftraction’s Remembrance championship. “There were a lot of good dogs (in the Remembrance). They did well early in the eliminations, and had nothing left (in the finale).’’

Jiminy Reno, a 3-year-old male by Alivefortomorrow and Oceania, had an easier time in his Remembrance triumph. After breezing through qualifying with three victories and a second, he registered a three-length win in the finale as the even-money favorite. His winning time was 30.95 seconds. Later that year, Jiminy Reno won the $50,000 Husker Magic Fall Sprint and the $10,000 Howl O-Ween for sibling owners Kathleen Hastings of Abilene, Kan., and James Morgan of Colorado Springs, Colo.

The 5-2 morning-line favorites for Round 1 are: KB’s Stuntman (Patriot kennel) in Race 4; Flying Saloon (Everett Racing) in Race 6; LK’s Contrejas (Lashmet) in Race 8; and CBJ Buttercup (Xtrem Racing) in Race 10.

Flying Saloon, a 25-month-old son of Barcelona Boss and Flying Delaet, is the only greyhound that enters the Remembrance with a two-race win streak. He is trained by Kelsie Gubbels for owner Vince Berland of Abilene, Kan.

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.