Aug 20, 2020
There were just three greyhounds undefeated after the round 2 cuts were made in the $70,000 Razorback Classic Stakes at Southland Casino Racing. FLYING ZULU wasn’t one of them. After round three, there were zero undefeated left.
But the Kelly Everett trained entry for the Bussmann-Balakas kennel was the only entry to put together three straight wins from the original field of 64 and he has looked good in the process. As the qualifying rounds have progressed, he improved off an opening round 4th place finish to winning by increasingly larger margins, even though the competition has gotten tougher and tougher. In round 2 he held tough to a length lead in the stretch run to save him from possibly being cut from the field for round 3. In round 3 he rode a comfortable 5 ½ length win in box to wire style. In the semi-finals, although he didn’t break on top, he broke well and easily took the lead and never looked back, coasting home by nearly nine lengths. Those three victories to end qualifying not only assured him of an easy spot in the field of eight for the championship race this Friday evening, it made him the qualifying points leader.
That isn’t to say he won’t face some stiff competition in the championship race though. Lester Raines Kennel’s O YA SNIPER can also claim three wins in four qualifying races, but a sixth place finish in round 2 cost him the top spot in qualifying points. The black 75 pound male is a early speed specialist and is tough to catch on the lead.
Northshore Kennel’s OD AXELSKATER was an unknown talent and was actually in grade B when qualifying began. That stay in B was short lived, as well as his first official start in Grade “A” when he won his first two qualifying rounds. He finished off qualifying with two solid third place efforts to coast into the championship third overall with 44 points.
JS KING KUNTA (Mike Harris Kennel) was amongst the leaders after the first two rounds of qualifying when he chalked up a win and asecond place effort. He was in contention in round three before fading back to a sixth place finish putting him on the edge of making even the consolation field. Those fears were put to rest in the semi-finals when he got back to his winning ways, landing him in a tie for fourth place for total qualifying points.
The other greyhound involved in the tie was SUPER C CHILLY, the second of three Lester Raines Kennel finalists. This blue brindle all but had a championship race spot locked in after the first three rounds where he earned two victories and a runner-up effort. It was a good thing he didn’t need any more points to make the championship race, as he ended up running sixth in the semi-finals. He will look to get back into form on Friday evening.
There was a tie for sixth place in the standings as well, led by CTW CROSSFIRE (Steve M. Sarras Kennel) who boosted himself into the championship primarily on the heels of two victories during qualifying. He added a couple of fourth place finishes as well, which was sorely needed as the cut line for making the championship ended up being an abnormally high 37 points.
Lester Raines final entry, O YA DREAM ON had just one victory in qualifying, but added a couple of solid second place efforts to sit good going into the semi-finals. He needed to finish at least 5th to sneak into one of two finals spots, but did one spot better (fourth) to earn some breathing room.
Speaking of that final spot, JACK KNIGHT with 37 qualifying points earned that distinction of “last one in” and that seemed to be the theme for him throughout qualifying. The 70 pound black male just made the first cut of the field after race two behind a third and fourth place effort, earning just 12 points in that process. He needed to earn a victory and no worse than a second place effort in the last two round to earn a spot in the field, and that ended up being exactly what he did. If you believe in destiny for a greyhound to upset the world in a stakes race, he got a bonus for the championship when the rail runner drew the coveted #1 box for the big race.
With no undefeated greyhounds, the race is a bit wide open for just about anybody to come and earn the first stakes championship of the COVID-19 interrupted season. With the exception of O YA SNIPER and SUPER C CHILLY, the rest of the field is sitting pretty good with their post positions to make a bid for it. O YA SNIPER has the early foot to overcome his spot and SUPER C CHILLY ran first and second from outside post positions during qualifying so it adds the parity of the field overall.