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Monday, August 31, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Nova Express is on a roll.

Seeking its first meet win championship in four years, Nova kennel has zipped its way to the top of the win standings at Derby Lane.

The Hans Limmer-owned operation and kennel manager-trainer Missy Kubitz entered Monday with a 92-90 advantage over reigning meet titlist Lester Raines kennel in the track’s 14-kennel standings.

“Winning a kennel title would be nice,’’ Kubitz said. “But Lester Raines has a bunch of nice dogs.’’

So does Nova, which has five of the top 10 winners at the current meet that runs through Dec. 27.

Nova, whose previous win championship came in the July-to-December meet in 2016, moved ahead of Lester Raines with 12 victories in the previous week’s eight performances. Dominant wins by Dancin Dazzle (Grade M), Or Not (A) and Cams Tomyris (D), who prevailed by a total of 20 lengths on Saturday night, capped a three-win performance for Nova. The kennel also opened the week with three wins on the Monday card.

It has been a magnificent month for Nova. It trailed Lester Raines by a 60-45 margin in wins entering Aug. 1. But Nova has won 47 races in the first 30 performances of the month to take command.

Entering Monday, Nova had nearly twice as many Grade A wins than any competitor (a 40-22 edge over Lashmet kennel), and had five dogs among the top 10 in wins: Hi Noon Ruger (eight victories), Hi Noon Ricochet (six), Deco Colt Gun (five), Hi Noon Recoil (five) and Magnum Plus (five).

Two other kennels, Capabal and Abernathy, weren’t far off the pace, either. The Henry Parker-owned Capabal operation has 89 victories under trainer Belinda Parker. Abernathy, which is operated by Jim and Kayruth Abernathy, has 88 wins. Everett Racing, owned by Kelly Everett, ranks fifth with 84 victories under the guidance of trainer Kelsie Gubbels.

One highlight on Saturday’s matinee-evening doubleheader was the nine victories posted by Farmer Racing, which is owned by John Farmer.

Farmer had not won more than three races in any of the meet’s first 59 performances. But it won four on Saturday’s matinee card, and chalked up five victories on that day’s evening performance. Farmer surprised the wagering public with its huge day with only two winners being the wagering favorite: Arroyo Ace ($7.40 to win) and Mr Red Flash ($6.60).

Its other winners were RCK Everlasting ($14.80), FF Gearshift Gus ($16.40), RCK Moonstone ($15.40), RCK Bomber ($12.20), Mr Highway Deva ($20.20), JM Aftershock ($7.60), and Centex Chaos ($21.80).

That effort raised Farmer’s win total to 56 for the meet.

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.