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Monday, July 1, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Derby Lane closed its 2018-19 season on Saturday.

For the track’s final two stakes winners, it wasn’t close at all.

Braska Rebel capped the track’s 389th performance of the year by giving kennel owners Jim and Kayruth Abernathy what is believed to be their first championship in the $25,000 St. Petersburg Derby. Earlier, Dawlface of ABC Racing captured the $5,000 Consolation Derby.

It was the first stakes title for both greyhounds.

Other individual crowns were claimed for the six-month meet that began Jan. 1. Everett Racing kennel nailed down its second consecutive win title, and LK’s Crush N It of Lashmet kennel earned his first top-dog championship.

Everett Racing, which set a win record in the previous July-to-December meet, successfully defended its title with 289 victories under owner Kelly Everett and trainer Kelsie Gubbels. Abernathy and Lashmet tied for second at 255. Everett Racing won its previous title with a six-meet record 337 victories.

LK’s Crush N It dominated the win standings with 29, never finishing worse than third in all 35 starts. Trained by kennel manager Ken Deacon for operation owners and breeders John and Jill Lashmet of Eaton, Colo., LK’s Crush N It recorded the most victories in a six-month meet since three-time All-America first-team sprinter Husker Magic won 29 races in the July-to-December 2014 meet for the Abernathys.

LK’s Crush N It also clocked the meet’s best 550-yard time of 30.15 seconds. O Ya Sniper of Lester Raines kennel had the top 660 clocking of 37.04 seconds.

The final performance featured a rare triple dead heat for third place in Race 3 involving Grade B greyhounds on the 550 course. Barts Jacks Sun (Bartley Corporation kennel) won by two lengths over Flying Ronnie J (Everett Racing) in 31.51 seconds. Three dogs reached the finish line at the same time for third place: O Ya Hot Rod (D’Arcy), Oshkosh Deputy (Abernathy) and Super C Casino (Lester Raines). Another dog, Deco Electralite (Nova), was close enough to be in the photo for sixth place. The triple dead heat resulted in payouts on three trifectas and six superfectas.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had (a triple dead heat), probably more than 10 years,’’ Derby Lane racing secretary Les Robison said.

The focus of the card was the 93-year-old Derby – the track’s second oldest stakes race – and the 89th annual Consolation Derby.

Both races were carbon copies of each other with the winner blasting out of the starting box and never being threatened.

Braska Rebel, a 33-month-old male from a litter by Defrim Bale and Gracie Of Ruckus, sped out of box 5 and eventually established a lead as much as four lengths as the fourth wagering favorite. He finished two lengths in front of Flying Bolton, one of three Everett Racing finalists. Braska Rebel clocked 660 yards in 37.86 seconds, the fastest time from 39 greyhounds that raced on the distance course during the program. He paid $13.60 to win.

“I wanted a fast start,’’ Jim Abernathy said. “That was the difference. I think (the Derby) is the only stakes race I hadn’t won before at Derby Lane.’’

Braska Rebel, trained by Kayruth Abernathy, earned $11,000 with his 16th career victory from 92 starts for owner Bill Elliott of Red Cloud, Neb., and his daughter, Jill Elliott. BD Wells (Everett Racing kennel), the 3-2 wagering favorite, finished third followed by LK’s Bellini (Lashmet), It’s My Life (Xtrem Racing), LK’s Honolulu (Lashmet), Rich N Famous (Farmer Racing) and PJ Sagethegemini (Everett Racing).

A sensational start by Dawlface led to her victory in the Consolation Derby. Breaking from box 3 in the seven-dog field, Dawlface led every stride and finished 4-1/2 lengths in front of 8-5 favorite LK’s Boondocks (Lashmet) as the third wagering choice. The 34-month-old daughter of Shonn and Dawlee paid $9.80 after clocking 660 yards in 38.28 seconds.

“She hit the front and held (the opposition) off,’’ ABC Racing kennel owner Don Burk said. “It’s nice to win any race, but to win a race like (a stakes) is nice. That’s what you work and strive for all the time.’’

Trained by Shannon Shull for owner William O’Donnell of Lynn, Mass. Dawlface earned her 15th lifetime win from 81 starts and collected the first-place prize of $2,200.

Wild And Free (Everett Racing) was third followed by DS Rolo (Xtrem Racing), B Mister Blu (Lester Raines), LK’s Osborne (Lashmet) and CBJ Hot Wheeles (Xtrem).

The Florida West Coast track kicks off its 2019-2020 campaign Monday with the six-month Tampa at Derby Lane meet.

Robison said 13 kennels have signed 18-month contracts for upcoming racing. Xtrem Racing is the only operation not returning. Robison said the kennel has been disbanded.

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.