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Thursday, January 9, 2020

 

Another thrilling and fun-filled season of Wheeling Island greyhound racing is in the books and more excitement is anticipated in 2020.

There were numerous highlights on the track throughout 2019, including the $100,000 Mountaineer Classic, two West Virginia bred stake events and win streaks which generated plenty of fan interest. In addition, a number of youngsters broke their Maiden and look like future stars.

Top greyhound honors went to Patriot/Taplin Kennel’s GF La Duena, who became the first Wheeling greyhound to reach the 30-win plateau since 2009 when Kiowa Power Pak posted 31 victories. La Duena posted 32 wins.

The Blanchard Kennel, trained by James E. Blanchard, captured the 2019 kennel championship after finishing runner up to the Lester Raines Kennel in 2018.

In the $100,000 Mountaineer Classic on a rainy day in late October, Wayne Ward Kennel’s WW’s Chewbacca took charge on the far turn before pulling away from Xtrem Hess Racing Kennel’s Axtrem Bomb, the early pacesetter, for a 2-length victory in 29.72 to capture the racetrack’s featured stakes event for 2019. Brad Boeckenstedt Kennel’s BGR Bonecrusher closed late to round out the trifecta ticket.

Completing the final order of finish were L’s Luv It (Blanchard Kennel), fourth; L’s Griz (Blanchard Kennel), fifth; TNT Coal Trickle (Steve Sarras Kennel), sixth; AMF Bystander (A Ray Kennel), seventh; and Barts Sea Sail (Charter Kennel), eighth.

     

WW’s Chewbacca broke in at Wheeling Island before a short stint at Southland Park. In the qualifying rounds, the sprinter was a mark of consistency – a win, a second, a third and a fourth in the four rounds.

In the $35,000 West Virginia Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association Juvenile in late September, Abrahamson Kennel’s CG’s Sneaker rocketed to an early lead and then held off her brother CG’s Penny Shoe by a length at the wire in 29.84 to capture the stakes crown. Rounding out the trifecta ticket was CET Sassy (Steve Sarras Kennel).

Completing the final order of finish were Mac’s Zaxxon (A Ray Kennel), fourth; CET Little Razz (Steve Sarras Kennel), fifth; TS Shaq (Steve Sarras Kennel), sixth; Mac’s Crabtree (A Ray Kennel), seventh; and TS Tito Ortiz (Steve Sarras Kennel), eighth.

In the $65,000 WVGOBA Keystone Championship in late November, A Ray Kennel’s Mac’s Trudeaux pulled away in the stretch for a 6 ½-length victory in 38.11. Abrahamson Kennel’s MO’s Live Oak took runner up honors while Lester Raines Kennel’s RS’s Buckeyebuck rounded out the trifecta ticket.

Completing the order of finish were CET Sassy (Steve Sarras Kennel), fourth; RS’s Hammerdown (Patriot/Taplin Kennel), fifth; CET Hellen Ann (Steve Sarras Kennel), sixth; Mac’s Murdoch (A Ray Kennel), seventh; and CET Earthquake (Steve Sarras Kennel), eighth.

The longest winning streak during the 2019 racing season was seven in a row by Mac’s Glightfoot. The 3/8th racer, who came to Wheeling in March from Tri-State Greyhound Park, also had a six-race victory streak last year.

Three other greyhounds had six-race win steaks in 2019 – GF La Duena (twice), BGR Later Gator and Flyin Michiyoshi (streak started in December 2018 and extended into January). Imark Grande won five in a row.

Several other greyhounds captured four straight victories – GF La Duena, L’s Griz, High Wire Willy, FF Biscayne, Imark Solo, BGR Whysoserious, JS Drinkmepretty, TNT Coal Trickle, ZB Tremonti and JS Go Flex.

There was an influx of greyhounds to Wheeling in 2019, most from Southland, Iowa and Derby Lane.

Upcoming in 2020 are plans for the annual $100,000 Mountaineer Classic, two West Virginia-bred stakes races and possibly another event.

 

I was introduced to greyhound racing by a friend in the late 1970s at Wheeling Downs and fell in love with the sport and the athletes immediately. Throughout the years, I have developed a deep passion for racing. In the mid 1990s, I started writing a weekly greyhound column and shortly thereafter became a writer for The Greyhound Review.

I have enjoyed watching and writing about these wonderful competitors, including All-Americans DD's Nelson, Kiowa Sweet Trey, Gene's Champion, WW Apple Jax, Greys Royalcrown, Nimby TP Jan, Hi Noon Hero, Gable Sour Cream, KB's Ruckus and Cry Case.