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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

 

 

FESTIVAL OF STAKES UPDATE (AFTER ROUND 2)

After two qualifying rounds in each of the six divisions in the 2021 edition of the Festival of Stakes at Southland Casino & Racing, the number of undefeated greyhounds remaining appears to be the fewest after two rounds in the history of the event. With two rounds remaining until the championship and consolation fields will be set, the smart money may be on even fewer remaining unscathed before the big event.

Let’s take a quick recap look at the fields in each division going into round 3 action this coming weekend:

Arkansas Bred Sprint Division (583 yards)

To say GOVERNMENT SLAVE is undefeated through two rounds would be one thing, but the way this brindle female won her second round race gives hope that she may finish the deal and stay unbeaten going into Championship Sunday. This Magic City Kennel star isn’t the only one putting up good finishes for trainer Bill Nihan either. The kennel holds three of the top four positions in qualifying right now, nearly ensuring multiple entries at this point into the championship race.

Other single race winners in this division had disappointing finishes in the other round so far, with IMARK BOOG (Ryan Farms), CBJ STARGAZER (T and T) and CBJ ELEKTRA (Wayne R. Ward) each running fourth or worse in their other effort, keeping the rest of pack close to possibly sneak into the finals with a couple big finishes in the final two rounds.

Round 3 of qualifying action will be on Saturday, September 18th.

Darby Henry Male Sprint Division (583 yards)

Only one greyhound remains undefeated in this division, and the name of the greyhound who holds that designation is of no surprise. One of the best racing at Southland currently, CRAIGIE DELEGATE (Lester Raines Kennel) is not only undefeated through two rounds of qualifying action, but is now riding a five consecutive race win streak and there appears there is little in his way right now to stop him. He has 24 wins on the season with a little more than 3 months to go and is looking for his second major stakes championship in the past six weeks or so as he already locked up a spot in the championship finals, short of some distasterous occurrence.

BARTS BLUE BLOOD (Charter Kennel) and KB’S MOODY RIVER (Magic City) are hanging close tied for 25 points thanks to a win and second place finish over the first two rounds and the next seven greyhounds are within a third place finish or better from making a major move up the charts.

Third round action in the Darby Henry Male Sprint Division is slated for this coming Saturday.

Darby Henry Female Sprint Division (583 yards)

The ladies division in the Festival of Stakes appears to be one of the more exciting divisions as far as picking a clear cut favorite through two rounds. There are two undefeated greyhounds so far with HIGH KEY (Northshore Kennel) and JS KEEPHOPEALIVE (Lester Raines Kennel) riding high into round 3. Southland Derby Consolation Stakes winner, FIESTA GRACE (Gloria Dorsey) is within sniffing distance of the leaders with 25 points and a somewhat surprise entry hanging in fourth place with TURBO GIA (Bussmann-Balakas) scoring 22 points.

Eight other greyhounds are lurking behind those top four vying for seemingly the last four spots in the championship field. Third round action for the ladies sprint division is slated for this Saturday.

Barry Baldwin Juvenile Sprint Division (583 yards)

A “super” fast pup leads the field in this division as the only undefeated greyhound left. SUPER C BREW (Lester Raines Kennel) dominated his second round qualifying race by 8 lengths and counting past the wire this past Sunday to record his seventh win in just 17 starts. There is a complete logjam behind him with four greyhounds tied for second with 25 points each and another 3 greyhounds behind that pack tied at 22 points going into round 3 action this coming Sunday.

Charter Kennel’s OSHKOSH HICKORY also posted a nice win during the second round, pulling away by five lengths as the betting favorite to bring his total to 22 points. This next round of qualifying will likely be key to either solidifying spots in the championship field, or being within a top two finish of sneaking into one of those coveted eight spots.

Ness Sechrest Middle Distance Division (660 yards)

Second time may be the charm for Razorback Classic Stakes Consolation Champ GODDESSOFTHEHUNT (Steve M. Sarras Kennel), who is the sole undefeated greyhound through two qualifying rounds in the Sechrest Middle Distance Division. Her quick break from the box and early speed has fueled two nice wins, one over ARKANS MABEL (Darren Henry Kennel) who is currently tied for the final spot in the championship field.

Speaking of stakes winners, ARKANS RB TAZ (Darren Henry Kennel), the Razorback Classic Stakes Champion this season, lays tied for second after her blistering 10 length romp in round 2 and lurks around with 25 points. Tied with her for second is fan favorite CHILLAXIFICATION (Northshore Kennel), who’s monster closing style of running in sprint races begged to see what he could do in longer distances. He recently turned 4 years old last month, and although he has just three races on the Razorback Course, he has a win and second place so far in qualifying.

From front to back, the top eight so far in this field is probably the closest in talent in all six of the divisions. Third round action in this division is slated to be contested this Friday.

Ansel Styles, Jr. Marathon Distance Division (703 yards)

Although this division had the fewest greyhounds entered into it since it’s inception over a decade ago in the Festival of Stakes, the two undefeated greyhounds sitting on top so far through two rounds should set up for a heck of a championship final if it stays the course.

FGF DAVYCROCKETT (Charter Kennel) and SMILE N MEAN IT (Plum Creek Kennel) are unscathed and looking sharp, especially Davycrocket who has won comfortably going away in both his starts in this event.

A trio of greyhounds are tied for third with 20 points each in JACK KNIGHT (Gloria Dorsey Kennel), RCK GOLDEN GRACE (Mike Harris Kennel) and WW HUSKY (Wayne R. Ward). The third round of qualifying is scheduled for Friday.

Shane Bolender