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Back to Track Talk » $70,000 HOLIDAY DISTANCE CHALLENGE FIRST-ROUND RESULTS
Tuesday, December 10, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The first top-grade victory for Oh No Mr Bill of Abernathy kennel couldn’t have come at a better time.

Competing in his first stakes series, Oh No Mr Bill stunned heavy favorite Flying Zulu of Everett Racing kennel on Saturday in a first-round qualifier of the $70,000 Holiday Distance Challenge at Derby Lane.

Qualifying resumes Wednesday, when 16 of the original 32 entries will be eliminated. Qualifiers are in Races 4 (8:10 p.m.), 6 (8:39), 8 (9:13) and 10 (9:47).

Dogs earn accumulative points based on their respective orders of finish in each race. After four rounds, eight finalists will compete in the Dec. 21 championship event.

Oh No Mr Bill did not have a top-grade win in 40 previous starts, but he scored the biggest upset in the first round of the Holiday Distance Challenge. The 28-month-old son of Djays Octane and Omega Miss prevailed at 11-1 odds and paid $25.20 to win. He also collected 16 points in the series and is ensured of being one of the 16 greyhounds to advance to Round 3.

Starting from box 2, Oh No Mr Bill led at every race call and completed the 660-yard course in 37.77 seconds – his career-best time. It was only his sixth race on the distance track.

Oh No Mr Bill finished four lengths in front of fourth-place finisher Flying Zulu, one of the pre-series favorites and the prohibitive 2-5 wagering choice in his qualifier. Oh No Mr Bill, who started his career at Palm Beach Kennel Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., scored his eighth lifetime victory for owner Steve Sarras. Oh No Mr Bill is trained by Kayruth Abernathy, who operates the Derby Lane kennel with husband, Jim Abernathy.

Flying Zulu, who leads all dogs at the meet in 660-yard victories, had previously finished no worse than second in his past 13 races with nine wins.

“I have really high hopes for (Flying Zulu),’’ kennel manager and trainer Kelly Everett said on the eve of the Holiday Distance Challenge.

Flying Zulu has six points entering the second round.

Lashmet kennel had two first-round winners in LK’s Osborne ($9.60, 37.90 seconds) and LK’s Real Dream ($5, 37.61 seconds).

O Ya Smooth ($6.80, 37.87 seconds) also had a first-round victory for Lester Raines kennel.

The first-round winners top the leader board with 16 points apiece. First place pays $32,000.

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.