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Jan 6, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

That saying used to be attached to LK’s Santorini . . . until Saturday night.

The 33-month-old daughter of LK’s Vespar and LK’s Chardonnay, who often has taken a back seat to standout Lashmet kennelmate LK’s Crush N It, had the stage all to herself in the $18,000 1925 Historical Inaugural at Derby Lane.

LK’s Santorini stormed out of the starting box on a breezy night in the track’s oldest stakes race, and scored a box-to-wire, two-length victory for her first career title.

The Inaugural, the first of 12 stakes races scheduled in 2020 at Derby Lane, paid $7,700 to the winner.

“I’m happy,’’ Lashmet kennel manager and trainer Ken Deacon said. “She can run, but she’s always played second fiddle to the big dog (LK’s Crush N It).

“When she beat the 2 (LK’s Crush N It) down to the turn, that’s probably the first time in her life that she’s ever beaten him. . . . I’m sure they’ve schooled together before.’’

LK’s Santorini, bred by Derby Lane kennel owners John and Jill Lashmet of Eaton, Colo., drew box 3. Inside of her were LK’s Crush N It and Shoot The Breeze, the Floyd kennel greyhound who had won his past four races.

When the starting box opened, LK’s Santorini sped ahead of LK’s Crush N It into the first turn. She opened up a four-length lead after the first race call, and wasn’t challenged as LK’s Crush N It gave way on the final turn to a surging FGF Pass You By of Watson Racing kennel.

LK’s Santorini, the fourth wagering choice at 6-1, clocked the 550-yard course in 30.57 seconds. She paid $14.40 to win and raised her lifetime earnings to more than $32,000.

FGF Pass You By, the longest shot at 43-1, overcame a last-place start to take second – three lengths in front of Shoot The Breeze. LK’s Crush N It, the defending Inaugural champion and 8-5 race favorite, faded to fourth. The remainder order of finish: Where U Want Me (Bartley Corporation), Rich N Famous (Farmer Racing), Flying Zigzag (Everett Racing) and BD Wells (Everett Racing).

LK’s Crush N It earned $1,540 with his fourth-place showing, raising his career earnings above the $100,000 plateau.

“That’s great,’’ Deacon said. “He’s the best dog I’ve ever had.’’

LK’s Santorini, who advanced to the 95-year-old Inaugural championship event with a second-place finish in qualifying, entered the finale on a nine-race losing streak – the longest of her 88-race career – despite finishing in the money eight times with a top-four finish.

The Inaugural represented LK’s Santorini’s seventh stakes appearance, and fifth consecutive time of reaching the title race. Her previous best stakes finish was a fourth in the $50,000 Husker Magic Fall Sprint on Sept. 28.

“She’s been in several other (stakes finals) and always broke bad,’’ Deacon said. “(Saturday), she flew out of the box. She beat the big dog (LK’s Crush N It) to the turn, and I said, ‘Oh, yeah!’ “I thought they were going to tie up together (on the turn) and get in trouble. But as it turned out, she ran a heck of a race.’’

It was the 35th lifetime victory for LK’s Santorini, who has led at every race call in 29 of her wins. Her clocking was the fastest among 207 greyhounds that competed in 26 races on the 550-course track throughout the day’s matinee-evening doubleheader.

“I knew (the surface) was fast, because of the rain we had (earlier in the day),’’ Deacon said. “Usually in these races, the dog that goes to the lead wins 95 percent of the time.

“I really liked the 1 dog (Shoot The Breeze). He’s going to be a monster pup, and he ran Crush N It down the last time out (in the qualifier). He had a little bit of trouble, and still ran a good race.’’

Randy Floyd, whose kennel handles Shoot The Breeze, said, “I guess it wasn’t meant to be.’’

Sparked by FGF Pass You By’s second-place finish at high odds, the $2 trifecta of 3-7-1 paid $1,300.40, and the $1 superfecta of 3-7-1-4 returned $2,665.50. Derby Lane’s next stakes race is the $64,000 Sprint Classic on Feb. 15-29.

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