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Aug 17, 2020

Goodbye, Florida.

Hello, Arkansas.

Hi Noon Ruger, the Derby Lane meet win leader, left the Florida West Coast track in style on Saturday in what may have been her final start in the Sunshine State.

After scoring her eighth victory from 10 starts at the current six-month meet, Hi Noon Ruger was scheduled to leave Derby Lane today (Monday) for Southland Racing in West Memphis, Ark., where racing purses are higher.

Nova kennel manager and trainer Missy Kubitz announced the move on Saturday, hours before her dog’s four-length victory in 30.65 seconds - the second fastest time among 111 greyhounds who competed that evening on the 550-yard course. It was her career-tying fourth consecutive victory, and eighth win in the past nine outings.

“I will miss her a lot,’’ Kubitz said. “She’s on top of my list for my favorites. She gets her McDonald’s biscuit and egg every day.’’

Hi Noon Ruger, a 28-month-old female from a litter by two-time All-America first-team member SH Avatar and Hi Noon Wheezy, leaves Derby Lane with three more victories than any greyhound since the current meet began July 1. All eight wins came at the Grade A level, helping the Hans Limmer-owned Nova kennel to a 30-16 advantage over Lashmet for most top-grade victories at Derby Lane.

Owned by Charles Haliburton III, Hi Noon Ruger will be relocating for the fourth time since starting her career in October 2019. She ran two stints at Derby Lane sandwiched between a two-month stay earlier this year at Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque, Texas.

Only two of Hi Noon Ruger’s 17 career wins came in the Lone Star State, where she made five starts. At Derby Lane, the 63-pound athlete prevailed in 15 of 29 races – all at 550 yards.

Ask Kubitz one of the things that she remembers about Hi Noon Ruger and it doesn’t take long to answer.

“Her first (official) race at Derby Lane,’’ Kubitz said.

On Oct. 26, 2019, Hi Noon Ruger was the 7-5 wagering favorite in her career debut after finishing first and third in two schooling races. She failed to finish the race.

“In her first maiden race, she got over to the far turn (entering the stretch),’’ Kubitz said. “She had to be four or five (lengths) in front, and she stopped. Her ears went up, and she ducked into the rail. The lure had gone through the turn already, and she lost sight of it and she stopped. She thought the race was over.’’

The comment in her racing line reads: “Checked (on the) second turn-rail.’’

After that, Hi Noon Ruger began to shine. She won three subsequent schooling races by a total of 16 lengths, and finished first in her next two official starts by three and two lengths, respectively.

Hi Noon Ruger advanced to Grade A on June 6, where she has been ever since – winning 11 of 16 races. Her only two losses at the current meet were a pair of seconds, losing by a nose and a neck, respectively. Hi Noon Ruger’s career-best time at Derby Lane was 30.41 seconds. 

“When I first broke that litter in, I thought (Hi Noon Ruger) was the fastest one,’’ Kubitz said. “She was just so fast. . . . She didn’t know how fast she could run.

“She had to mature. It took her until this year to really figure it out. “She doesn’t have any box speed, but she’s got a good rush to the turn, and then she can just go from there. She’s got late speed, so she can come from behind and catch you.

She’s just so calm. You open her crate and she rolls over and you can pet her belly. . . . She smiles from ear to ear with that big old toothy grin.

“It’s a pleasure just to watch her.’’

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