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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Richard Marcoux appears to have the perfect plan for TNT Sherlock.

“Three seconds get you in the final,’’ the Patriot kennel manager and trainer said. “That’s 30 points. . . . That will get you there.’’

So far, so good for Marcoux and his TNT Sherlock after the greyhound’s second-place finish Saturday in the opening round of the $50,000 Husker Magic Fall Sprint at Derby Lane.

When 32 greyhounds were chosen for the signature 550-yard event in the current Tampa at Derby Lane meet, the goal for all kennels was to have one of the eight dogs for the Sept. 28 championship race.

If Marcoux’s strategy plays out, TNT Sherlock will be one of the finalists for breeders and owners Tom Taplin and his son, Brent Taplin, of Abilene, Kan. The 26-month-old son of Pat C Sabbath and Flying Supervolt is tied for fifth in the point standings with 10 after his first-round effort – a half-length defeat to LK’s Santorini of Lashmet kennel. TNT Sherlock set the pace and led his rival by two lengths before giving way in deep stretch.

LK’s Santorini is one of four athletes atop the leader board with 16 points, joined by Lashmet kennelmate LK’s Crush N It, Deco Colt Gun of Nova kennel and Farmer Racing’s Flamenco Dancer.

The top 16 dogs in accumulative points after Wednesday move on to the final two qualifying rounds.

Marcoux’s confidence in TNT Sherlock is solid. The dog has advanced to the finals in his only two previous stakes: fifth in the $8,000 T.L. Weaver Memorial Challenge on Aug. 17 and third in the $20,000 Remembrance on May 27.

TNT Sherlock drew into Race 10 (10 p.m.) and starts from box 8. Patriot’s other entry, KB’s Stasny (six points), appears to be in a more challenging qualifier in Race 4 (8:18), where she faces LK’s Crush N It and Everett Racing’s Flying Givenchy (10 points).

The other qualifiers are Races 6 (8:52) and 8 (9:26), which features Deco Colt Gun, Flamenco Dancer and LK’s Santorini.

“Getting to the finals is what it’s all about,’’ Marcoux said. “There are some tough dogs, but (TNT Sherlock) has faced most of them. He’s been in the finals for two stakes races already. He’s beat some of the best dogs at the track.

“He’s come a long way from when he was a pup. He struggled in (Grades) C and D for a long time, but he’s growing up.’’

TNT Sherlock possesses early speed. In 11 of his 13 lifetime victories, he has led at every race call. He came into the Husker Magic off his most impressive race to date, a box-to-wire, 1-length victory on Sept. 7 with a career-best clocking of 30.66 seconds.

The Husker Magic first-place prize of $22,000 would be nearly double TNT Sherlock’s lifetime purse earnings of $11,655.

LK’s Crush N It, the reigning meet win champion who is in a three-way tie for the current meet win lead with Flying Givenchy and Deco Colt Gun (each with nine), is going for his 53rd career victory for kennel manager and trainer Ken Deacon.

Flamenco Dancer is attempting to register her first title in her 14th stakes appearance. She has 58 wins overall under kennel owner and trainer John Farmer.

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.