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Jan 2, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The senior citizen is crashing the party at the $18,000 1925 Historical Inaugural, Derby Lane’s oldest stakes race.

On Saturday, Rich N Famous, the veteran Farmer Racing kennel dual-distance performer, faces a big test as he goes for his first career stakes championship in the 95-year-old event.

The Inaugural, a 550-yard race, is the first of 12 events on Derby Lane’s 2020 stakes schedule. First place pays $7,700.

Facing a field that includes two-time defending meet win leader LK’s Crush N It (Lashmet kennel) and rising sprinter Shoot The Breeze (Floyd), Rich N Famous advanced Wednesday with a solid third-place qualifying performance. The top four finishers in qualifying earned spots in the finale.

Rich N Famous, a 50-month-old male from a litter by Kiowa Mon Manny and Fraulein Becky, is the oldest of 16 original entries. He is owned by Monte Jacobs of Claflin, Kan.

“We’re just real proud of him that at this age, he can still compete with all the best dogs at the track,’’ Derby Lane kennel owner and trainer John Farmer said. “It’s just great breeding, and Monte Jacobs raises nice dogs that run this long and are so durable. . . . He’s running both distances (550 and 660 yards), too.’’

Rich N Famous ran third behind BD Wells (Everett Racing kennel) and 7-5 race favorite LK’s Santorini (Lashmet), both of whom broke alertly. BD Wells prevailed by two lengths with a clocking of 30.50 seconds, paying $5.80 as the 9-5 second-wagering choice. FGF Pass You By (Watson Racing) was fourth.

“The 2 (LK’s Santorini) and the 4 (BD Wells) got a big break, and gave (Rich N Famous) plenty of room to rush up,’’ Farmer said. “He saw the gap, and rushed real well. The 5 (FGF Pass You By) got underneath (Rich N Famous) and knocked his rear end out a little bit, but he made a strong run at the end.’’

Joining Rich N Famous in the championship event (Race 10, 9:47 p.m.) are Shoot The Breeze, who won the other qualifier for his fourth consecutive victory; Flying Zigzag (Everett Racing), who edged the pace-setting and even-money favorite LK’s Crush N It for second place; and Where U Want Me (Bartley Corporation).

Shoot The Breeze, the youngest finalist at 27 months old, won by one length in 30.30 seconds. He paid $9.60 to win as the second wagering pick under trainer Randy Floyd.

LK’s Crush N It was making his first start following a 21-day rest, and can surpass $100,000 in career earnings if he is able to claim his fifth lifetime stakes title. LK’s Crush N It, who has 64 victories overall, is the defending Inaugural champion.

This is the 10th stakes series and sixth finale for Rich N Famous, who will be making his 170th career start. After advancing to four of five title races at 660 yards, Rich N Famous will be racing in his second 550 championship event in five chances. He finished fifth on March 2 behind LK’s Crush N It in the $64,000 Sprint Classic, a 550 series.

Rich N Famous’ best stakes finish came in the $25,000 St. Petersburg Derby on June 30, 2018, when he wound up third behind LK’s Payday (Lashmet kennel) at 660 yards.

“He has switched his running style,’’ Farmer said. “He used to love to run wide all the time. But now, he tries to duck underneath the rail and get under (other dogs). He always looks for a hole and any kind of opening now. . . . He uses more racing smarts that racing ability. (Saturday’s finale) will definitely be a tough race for him.’’

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