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Jim Gartland

Mar 24, 2020

Two Southland stars have picked up the NGA’s annual Awards; Salud Raindrop winning the 49th Annual NGA Rural Rube Award as the nation’s top sprinter for 2019, and Sarkazum capturing the Flashy Sir Award as the best distance greyhound in the land. Raindrop nosed out JS Flamin Ace for the Rural Rube and Sarkazum got the nod over B Tigger in this year’s voting. Voting was tight in both races with twelve different greyhounds receiving Rural Rube votes and eleven different racers getting votes in the Flashy Sir category.

A 2017 daughter of Bella Infrared-Mega Whitney, Raindrop was considered the "best greyhound in the country" for most of the year. She captured the nation's attention by snapping off win streaks and running blistering times throughout the 2019 Southland campaign. She put together win streaks of nine, five, eleven and five on her way to winning a meet leading thirty six races at Southland against the best in the country even while missing a full two months of racing. She was also voted as Captain of the All American team by the NGA.

Owned by Jeff Blair and Mike Montoya and racing for the Natalie Looper trained, Gloria Dorsey Kennel, Raindrop started the year off with a bang winning ten of her first fourteen starts, including a first round win in the Hound Madness Stake. A stumble out of the box in the second round took her out of the running for the finals, however. She would then go on to rip off nineteen wins in her next twenty one starts including all four qualifying rounds and the championship final of the 2019 Southland Derby. Her next twelve starts would bring eight more wins to her already stellar resume including four qualifying round wins in the $200,000 Darby Henry Female Sprint Championship. Racing luck, or maybe bad luck, got the best of her in the finals where she was hit at the turn and suffered a hip injury which sidelined her until late in the year.

Her quick box break and speed to the front were her signature and she was rarely caught once on the lead. She won 76% of the races she started and hit the pay sheet forty four times in forty seven tries, a 93% in the money finishing rate!

A much deserved award for this fabulous sprinter. Congratulations to Jeff, Mike, Gloria, Natalie and all the connections of Salud Raindrop.

Runner-up in the Rural Rube voting was Garth Bolton and Lester Raines' JS Flamin Ace. This son of Superior Panama-CH Sweet Honey made the finals of five stakes at Southland including the GAGF, Southland Derby, Male Sprint, King & Queens and Two For The Money Stakes. He captured the $200,000 Darby Henry Male Sprint title as well as the King & Queens and Two For The Money events. He compiled an amazing 58-28-9-5-7 record and most likely would have been a shoe in for the Rural Rube in any other year. He was also named to the All American team.

Others high in the voting for the Rural Rube were Ungs & Galbreath's Revin Devon, Pat McMillon's Mac's Trudeaux, and John & Jill Lashmet's LK's Crush N It.

Voting was close for the top spot in the Flashy Sir contest. Only two greyhounds received double digit votes and were separated by only three votes in the end. Sarkazum won out over B Tigger with Dyenuhmite, Takin N Interest, Elizabeth Banks and LK's Hi Pockets not far behind.

Sarkazum is a brindle son out of "home grown" O'Donnell stock, Shonn and Jennah. He is the epitome of a distance star as he ran only one official race less than 660 yards in 2019. He won races at 660, 703 and 880 yards over the course of the Southland meet. His credentials for the year read as follows: $100,000 Razorback Champion (660), 2nd in the $100,000 Super Marathon Championship (820), overall 2019 record of 51-14-15-5-9 and 1st team NGA All American.

Racing against the best competition in the country day in and day out, Sarkazum consistently brought home paychecks, finishing in the money 43 times or nearly 85% of his starts. Running distance races only, and a majority of those at 820 yards, he managed to remain competitive and relatively injury free. He rarely missed a start and other than a short break in early March averaged about 4.25 races a month. All of this while turning three midway through the year.

His win in the final of the $100,000 Razorback Championship was in typical, blazing come from behind style winning by a length in the end over the likes of Super C Chilly, American Andale, MRL Full Boat, Drink It Off, Cool It Now and Cherokee Fiddle. He would win three of four qualifying rounds in the $100,000 Super Marathon Championship before running a trouble filled 2nd to B Tigger in the final.

A classic distance star and a proud product of his owner's own bloodlines lines, we congratulate William O'Donnell and the Northshore racing team for Sarkazum's Flashy Sir honor!

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