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Pumbaa, Rayzendacash share Top Greyhound honors

Stan Pawloski

Jan 26, 2024

For the first time in 10 years, two sprinters share Top Greyhound honors at Wheeling Island.

            Blanchard Kennel’s Artex Pumbaa and Charter Kennel’s JSP Rayzendacash both notched 22 victories in 2023 to stand atop the track win leader board.

            The battle for the top spot last year came down to the final week of racing with four greyhounds in the picture. The 2022 track win champ Florentine (Steve Sarras Kennel) and Tenacity (Blanchard Kennel) finished just one victory behind with 21 wins each.

            Both Artex Pumbaa and JSP Rayzendacash are powerhouses and two of the fastest sprinters at the track. On the lead coming home last year, neither greyhound got picked off in the stretch – each only extended their winning margins.

            James Blanchard called his star, Artex Pumbaa, multidimensional with a ton of desire.

            “(Artex) Pumbaa can break on top, or he can come from behind. He’s so consistent and tries hard every race … a lot of heart,” Blanchard said. “I’m proud of him. It’s quite an accomplishment to be a track win champion.”

            Artex Pumbaa missed the first two months of the 2023 racing season with a hip injury he sustained in late September 2022. He came back with a bang in March by winning five out of six Grade AA races and at the end of June had 10 victories.

            During the five-month period from July through November, Artex Pumbaa only posted 6 wins but continued to pound the pay sheet. In addition to his six wins, he had 5 seconds, 5 thirds and 5 fourths in 27 races.

            December was a different story as Artex Pumbaa got on a roll, winning six straight Grade AA races to climb to the top of the win leader board. In January 2024, he extended his streak to nine in a row.

            “When it gets cold out and the track slows down, it’s Pumbaa’s type of racetrack,” Blanchard said. “He holds the turns better and doesn’t give up as many lengths early like he does to the big speed greyhounds on a fast track in summer.”

            A majority of Artex Pumbaa’s 22 victories last year were come-from-behind efforts. In eight of his wins, he was in the lead around the first turn.

            Artex Pumbaa had several multiple-length victories in 2023 – 6 ½ lengths (three times), 6 lengths (twice), 5 ½ lengths, 5 lengths and 4 ½ lengths (three times). His fastest time was 29.47.

            A May 2020 greyhound out of Flying Hydrogen-Arkans Cancer, Artex Pumbaa had 22 wins, 8 seconds, 6 thirds and 6 fourths in 51 starts last year – an 82 percent mark on the superfecta ticket and 71 percent trifecta finish. He is owned by Rachelle Henry and Joe Frey.

            Charter Kennel trainer James Campbell had high hopes for JSP Rayzendacash when he came to Wheeling last year. In 2022, Rayzendacash raced at Southland Greyhound Park where he had 7 wins, 5 seconds, 2 thirds and 1 fourth in 22 starts.

            “As a trainer, you never anticipate having a win leader but it’s nice when it comes to fruition. It’s quite an achievement and honor for Rayzen,” Campbell said. “I knew he was one of the better greyhounds in the litter since he opened his career at Southland while (JSP) Game Changer and Feelthesting broke in at Wheeling.”

            JSP Rayzendacash got off to a slow start last year at Wheeling Island. Through mid-April, the sprinter only had 3 wins on his resume.

            It may have taken time to get adjusted to a different track, but JSP Rayzendacash caught fire the next three months. In 17 starts, the sprinter had 12 wins, 2 third and 2 fourths to jump into the mix at the top of the win standings.

            “Rayzen is getting a little older, but I think there’s still some untapped talent,” Campbell said. “Right now, I’d match race him with any greyhound at the track.”

            In all but three of JSP Rayzendacash’s 22 victories, the sprinter rushed to the lead by the first turn. He closed from second in the stretch in his other three wins.

            JSP Rayzendacash was dominating in a dozen of his races, winning by 11 ½ lengths, 11 lengths, 10 lengths, 9 lengths, 8 ½ lengths, 7 ½ lengths (twice), 7 lengths (twice), 6 ½ lengths (twice) and 6 lengths. His fastest time was 29.16.

            An August 2020 greyhound out of Superior Panama-Gonz Mani, JSP Rayzendacash had 22 wins, 4 seconds, 9 thirds and 5 fourths in 55 races last year – a 73 percent mark on the superfecta ticket and 64 percent trifecta finish. He is owned by Shannon Henry and Paul Bitterman.

            While Artex Pumbaa and JSP Rayzendacash topped the leader board with 22 victories each, 15 other greyhounds won at least 14 races in 2023 at Wheeling Island.

            The 2022 Wheeling Island win leaderboard and kennel follows:

            22 – Artex Pumbaa (Blanchard), JSP Rayzendacash (Charter)

            21 – Tenacity (Blanchard), Florentine (Steve Sarras)

            18 – Arkans TMC Athos (Blanchard), FGF Duke (Charter)

            17 – Easi Utley (Blanchard), JSP Money Maker (Charter)

            16 – JSP Hush Money (Charter), JS Xtra Fancy (Lester Raines), Barts Aviator (Charter), SNL Karma (Lester Raines)

            15 – WW Got Rhythm (Wayne Ward), Xtrem Bogonia (Xtrem Hess Racing)

            14 – O Ya Paws (Code Red), SE Tap House (Patriot/Taplin), JSP Feelthesting (Charter).

            Other co-track win leaders at Wheeling Island were Flying Lone Wolf and Go Bon Coaltrain, 20 wins each in 2013; Bonafide Speed, KB’s Ruckus and WP’s Cameo, 23 victories apiece in 2010; and Gable Pimento and Makin Bakin, 30 wins each in 2007; Casual Casey and Ben G Desire, 31 apiece in 1994; and Diamond’s Rose and E.Z. Ike, 27 each in 1978.

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