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Jim Gartland

Mar 12, 2021

Two Southland stars have picked up the NGA’s annual Awards; JS Flamin Ace winning the 50th Annual NGA Rural Rube Award as the nation’s top sprinter for 2020, and Flying Zulu capturing the Flashy Sir Award as the best distance greyhound in the land. Flamin Ace finished 2nd in this same vote last year, but edged out LK's Crush N It in this year's contest. Voting for the Rural Rube was a bit more lopsided with Flying Zulu receiving nearly 40% of the total vote.

A 2017 son of Superior Panama-CH Sweet Honey raised on the Henry farm in Solomon, Kansas, Flamin Ace had been "destined for greatness" since being purchased as a high dollar sale at the NGA auction in 2018. He has lived up to the billing and has been considered one of the best sprinters in the land since first hitting the oval late in 2018. Since breaking in and reaching AA at Southland in 2019, he hasn't dropped out of the top grade. In his 32 starts at Southland in 2020 he never went off at odds of more than 2 to 1 highlighting his talent via the betting public. He was also voted as Captain of the All American team by the NGA.

Owned by Garth Brooks and Lester Raines and racing for the Monte Hoopes trained, Raines Kennel, Ace started the year off with a bang winning five of his first nine starts coming back from a layoff due to a slight injury. He would go on to hit the pay sheet in nine of his next ten starts, five of those being wins including a victory in the $85,000 Southland Derby. He would win five of his next six including four qualifying rounds of the Male Sprint Championship. Racing luck, or maybe bad luck, got the best of him in the finals however, running into much early trouble and finishing seventh. He would grab two more wins before the year was out including a dominating ten length win in November before another minor injury sidelined him for the rest of the year. His steady and consistent style, while always racing against the best, makes Flamin Ace the champion he is. He finished the year with a 32-16-6-2-3 record; an 84% in the money clip!

A much deserved award for this fabulous sprinter. Congratulations to Garth, Lester, Monte, and all the connections of JS Flamin Ace.

Runner-up in the Rural Rube voting was John and Jill Lashmet's LK's Crush N It. This son of LK's Now R Never-LK's All In picked up two more stake victories in 2020 and finished the year with 29 wins. He captured the Derby Lane Sprint and Husker Magic stakes and won his final race of the year shortly after turning four years old which just happened to be his 93rd win in his 153 lifetime starts. Others high in the voting for the Rural Rube were William O'Donnell's Chillaxification, and Janice Abrahamson's CG's Penny Shoe.

Voting was not as close for the top spot in the Flashy Sir contest. Only two greyhounds received double digit votes and were separated by a total of eight votes in the end. Flying Zulu won out over Rasta with FGF Avenger, and Slatex Beretta further back.

Flying Zulu is a red brindle son out of Barcelona Boss-Classy Senza . He is the epitome of a distance star as he ran only one official race less than 660 yards in 2020. He won races at both 660 and 703 yards running against Southland's best and was named to the NGA's All American team.

After spending time at four different tracks over the previous year, Zulu found his way to Southland in January of 2020 proceeded to win his first two starts in Memphis by a combined 16-1/2 lengths! He would continue his winning ways, mostly at 660 yards but also doing damage at 703 when those starts came his way. He could come from behind, but was even more impressive on the lead, often drawing away by large margins.

He would win three out of four qualifying rounds in the Razorback Classic before finishing a hard fought fourth in the final. From there he would move over to 703 yards and promptly win seven in a row including a five and a half length romp in the Marathon Stake during the Festival of Stakes program in October. He would only get one more win before the year was out but battled in every race switching back in forth over the distance courses. He would finish 2020 as the win leader at Southland with an overall record of 38-19-5-2-5

A classic distance star and another local Abilene product, he is owned by Vince Berland and raced for the Kelly Everett trained Bussman-Balakis Kennel at Southland. Congratulations to all his connections!

The 50th Annual NGA Rural Rube and Flashy Sir awards will be presented at the awards ceremonies program at the Greyhound Hall of Fame on Thursday night, April 22, during the NGA's Spring Meet.

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