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Back to News » $8,000 T.L. WEAVER MEMORIAL CHALLENGE CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
Friday, August 16, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A champion will stand tall Saturday on the stage of the $8,000 T.L. Weaver Memorial Challenge, Derby Lane’s first stakes race of the 2019-2020 season.

It won’t be the first singular moment in the 550-yard series.

TNT Sherlock supplied that when the T.L. Weaver began.

Seldom does a runner-up create more buzz than a winner, but that was the case on a lightning-filled Wednesday evening – when the performance’s final two races were canceled by inclement weather.

TNT Sherlock, a Patriot kennel entry at 62-1 odds, ran second in the first of two qualifying races to LK’s Santorini of Lashmet kennel. He lost by 3-1/2 lengths, but a top-four finish was all that was necessary for greyhounds to grab berths for Saturday’s championship sprint in Race 10 at 9:47 p.m.

Moments after TNT Sherlock’s race, jaws dropped when track announcer Jim Peake told fans the dog’s $2 parimutuel place payout displayed on the infield tote board did not reflect his final payoff.

The tote board, which is limited to four digits, showed a place payout of $40.80. However, TNT Sherlock’s place mutuel actually paid $340.80. He also returned $14.80 to show.

“It’s probably the biggest place ticket they’ve had (at Derby Lane) since I’ve been here almost 2-1/2 years,’’ Patriot kennel manager and trainer Richard Marcoux said. “In 1991 when I was at Green Mountain in (Pownal) Vermont, I had a dog pay $343 in the middle (for place) and $216 to show.’’

Derby Lane showed on its television monitors that the entire place pool for the race involving TNT Sherlock totaled $1,734. That money also was shared by backers of the favored LK’s Santorini, who paid $5.40, $32 and $2.60 across the board.

TNT Sherlock, the longest of shots in the quality field of eight dogs totaling 202 career victories, had never gone off at odds of higher than 35-1 in 60 previous starts. The 25-month-old son of Pat C Sabbath and Flying Supervolt started his career with Marcoux in November 2018 for breeders and owners Tom Taplin and son Brent Taplin of Abilene, Kan.

“It was his toughest race he’s been in by far,’’ said Marcoux, a native of Manchester, N.H. “I told my wife (Kami Buchanan) that when I saw the (Wednesday) draw, this could have been the final.

“He’d rather be outside than inside, and there was a lot of speed on the outside of him. He’s shown in other races that if he gets speed on the outside when somebody breaks with him, he has a hard time getting room to rush.

“(On Wednesday) the 7-dog (LK’s Santorini) gave him room to rush down. . . . That’s why he was able to clear second.’’

TNT Sherlock raced second the entire way, finishing two lengths in front of current meet win leader Deco Colt Gun (Nova kennel) and another length ahead of fourth-place finisher Flamenco Dancer (Farmer Racing).

“The only dog I hadn’t seen him beat to the turn yet until (Wednesday) was Flamenco Dancer,’’ Marcoux said. “I was really impressed. If Flamenco Dancer breaks, she’s a tough one to the turn.’’ Buchanan had more confidence in TNT Sherlock than Marcoux entering the qualifier.

“(Marcoux) tends to underestimate some dogs,’’ she said. “The night we won the Holiday Distance Challenge (in 2017 with WW’s Odessabeach, the couple’s only Derby Lane stakes title), he didn’t think (she’d win). It was a tough race, but she had a lot of talent. (TNT Sherlock) has a lot of talent, too.’’

TNT Sherlock, who has led at every race call in 10 of his 12 overall victories, has never missed a stakes finale. His first stakes appearance came in the $20,000 Remembrance in May, when he finished third – three lengths behind Barts Lear Jet of Bartley Corporation kennel.

“He struggled for a while and right before the Remembrance, he perked up and started running to his ability,’’ Marcoux said. “He ran last in the first round of the Remembrance; came back and won; and then had two seconds before the final.

“He’s a good kennel dog. He doesn’t go out with the regular group for turnout. He’s a little bit bashful in the pen, and the boys tend to get on to him. He goes out in the pen with two other dogs, and they just hang out there.’’

TNT Sherlock drew box 2 for the championship race and is listed at 10-1 odds on the morning line. The remainder of the field from the rail: Deco Colt Gun, Amazing Glavine (Bartley Corporation), Deco Gatling Gun (Nova), LK’s Santorini, Flamenco Dancer, Flying Givenchy (Everett Racing) and 5-2 morning-line favorite LK’s Crush N It (Lashmet).

“(TNT Sherlock) has beat some tough dogs, and he’s got a lot of speed,’’ Marcoux said. “If you get to the front, a lot can happen behind you.’’

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.