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Stan Pawloski

Jan 19, 2022

A dream season.

Not only did Lester Raines win their second straight Wheeling Island kennel championship in 2021, but the Joel Roden-trained greyhounds won 605 races during the year and captured all three of the track’s stakes races.

Lester Raines trailed the pace-setting Blanchard Kennel for the first half of the 2021 racing season before taking over the top spot in late June and never looked back. The kennel champion amassed 330 victories in a second half surge.

Lester Raines’ 605 victories last year easily outdistanced runner up Blanchard (528) and Charter (451).

This marked Roden’s fourth championship with Lester Raines Kennel – following up crowns in 2016, 2018 and 2020. The kennel previously won Wheeling titles in 1992, 1994, 1995 and 1996.

The competition at Wheeling Island drives Roden every year.

“Every kennel championship is special and means a lot to me and our crew. All our hard work paid off. We get into the business for the competition, which I love. That’s what greyhound racing is all about,” Roden said. “Everything came together for us last year, especially in the second half when we ran super. To top 600 victories and to win all three of the track’s stakes races, it was a special year and I am so happy for what we were able to accomplish.”

Next in line in the final 2021 standing behind Lester Raines (605), Blanchard (528) and Charter (451) were Jacobs Racing (411), Brad Boeckenstedt (378), Steve Sarras (361), Wayne Ward (351), Imark (349), Patriot/Taplin (330), Xtrem Hess Racing and Rangel (326 each), A Ray (288) and Code Red (184). Code Red Kennel raced for only half of the 2021 season.

Pacing the Lester Raines’ attack last year were JS Slush Fund with 19 victories and four greyhounds with 14 wins each – RS Big D, RS’s Dark Night, JS Saltythursday and O Ya Trisha. Three other racers posted 10 victories – Crocket Pace, SNL Nowherefast and JS Wanna Bee.

“We didn’t have a lot of superstars, but a big group of consistent greyhounds who had a good shot of winning each time they went to the starting box,” Roden said. “We had a lot of greyhounds come in during the year who really liked the track and did well.”

Checking in with nine victories apiece were JS Keep Diggin, O Ya Sniper, Teaser’s Tickle, SNL Whiskey Girl, Craigie Padre and B Ashley Morgan. Recording eight wins each were Rooftop Rachelle, O Ya Bobbie Sue, JS Born To Fly, Aunt Patty Cake and RS’s Prime Time.

Capturing stakes crowns for the Lester Raines Kennel in 2021 were Teaser’s Tickle in the $100,000 Mountaineer Classic, the racetrack’s featured stakes event; RS’s Dark Night in the $35,000 West Virginia Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association Juvenile; and RS’s Prime Time in the $65,000 WVGOBA Keystone Championship.

After winning the WV-bred Juvenile, RS’s Dark Night came back the next month and finished fourth in the Mountaineer Classic.

“Not only did we have a killer year, but to take all three stakes races made it even more special,” Roden said.

Roden credited his Wheeling crew – Julie Roden, Amanda McCardle, Jaylynn McCardle, Kenneth Kelly and Scott Robinette – for playing a key role in the kennel’s success in 2021.

“We got a total combined effort from our team – Lester Raines, the greyhounds and all our lease customers,” Roden said. “All played a hand in our success.”

In addition to having the most wins in 2021, Lester Raines garnered the most thirds (462) while Blanchard was tops in seconds (490).

Lester Raines was the leader in win percentage with 18 percent followed by Blanchard with 15 percent and Charter with 14 percent.

Lester Raines led all kennels with a 46 percent trifecta mark. Blanchard was next with 42 percent while Charter followed with 41 percent.

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