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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Only two stake races in the nearly 40-year history of Wheeling greyhound racing have had larger purses than the upcoming $140,000 Wheeling Island National.


According to information from local greyhound historian Robin Reed, the West Virginia Classic in both 1984 and 1985 had a purse of $145,000 for the 3/8 stake event. The champion of those two races earned $76,000 apiece.


The winner of the 1984 West Virginia Classic was Olly’s Ace while J’s Pecos Bill and Cashmaker rounded out the trifecta ticket. The following year, GH’s Dr Pepper prevailed with DD’s Gramma Jo second and View Finder third.


The inaugural running of the Wheeling Island National begins Friday afternoon, May 6, and concludes with the consolation and championship finals during the matinee card on Monday, May 30 (Memorial Day).


“I’m really excited to see a premier stakes race such as the Wheeling Island National being held at our racetrack. It hearkens back to the 1980s for me when big stakes events such as the West Virginia Classic and City of Wheeling Stakes were held at the Island raceway,” Reed said. “Those races, like the National, had much pageantry surrounding them and media coverage. I'm personally looking forward to following this race from the early qualifying rounds to the finals."


Organizing and coordinating the Wheeling Island National is Racing Director Jim Gartland, who launched successful futurity events in Kanas and Alabama.


“Jimmy Gartland has done a lot to bring Wheeling racing to the forefront since he's arrived at our facility,” Reed added. “The National is not only the most recent example of his contributions, but will likely go down as one of the most exciting.”


There have been eight other stake events at Wheeling with a purse of $100,000, the most recent in 2010 when CTW Speedy Trent captured the Wheeling Island Invitational (5/16). KB’s Ruckus was runner up while KB’s Nantucket was third.


Following are the other $100,000 Wheeling stake races and the top three finishers:
2009 Wheeling Island Invitational (5/16) – Gable Sour Cream, Kiowa Myth, San Tan Diego
2008 Wheeling Island Invitational (5/16) – Kiowa WW Brother, Kansas Buzzer, Seldomscenetears
2002 Commissioner’s Cup (5/16) – EA’s Itzaboy, WW Fast Draw, Iruska All Star
1990 Wheeling Downs Invitational (5/16) – Magic Duncan, Flying Missile, Kelton Quick
1989 Wheeling Invitational (5/16) – He’s My Man, B J Joachim, Keota Flash
1983 West Virginia Classic (3/8) – My Problem, Alfar Lord, Saucy Tabasco
1982 West Virginia Classic (3/8) – Mr. Wizard, Saucy Tabasco, Mercury Queen


After the Wheeling Island National kicks off Friday afternoon, May 6, the next two rounds are set for Tuesday matinee, May 10, and Friday matinee, May 13. At this juncture, the field will be cut to 32 greyhounds and all points earned will be dropped.


Point totals start over for the remaining three rounds of qualifying – Tuesday afternoon, May 17, Saturday matinee, May 21, and Wednesday afternoon, May 25. The consolation and championship final are planned for the Monday, May 30, matinee card (Memorial Day).


The futurity-style stake event will be contested over the 5/16 distance and for pups whelped (born) between July 1, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2014. A handful of the entries in the field have a dozen or so starts with most under 10 races.


Excluding West Virginia Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association Juvenile stakes, there have been 11 open juvenile events held at Wheeling – beginning in 1989 and the last one in 2000.


A listing of the juvenile stakes Wheeling has hosted and the top three finishers follow:
2000 $10,000 Spring Juvenile – Butter N Jam, Cheek To Cheek, Asti Hope
2000 $10,000 Fall Juvenile – Don Thomas, Flying Manitou, Rooftop Cindy
1999 $10,000 Spring Juvenile – WW Ruff Enough, Iruska Fiala, Flaming Glory
1999 $10,000 Fall Juvenile – Iam Iam Superdog, Aleega, Amazin Astro
1992 $10,000 Spring Juvenile – Forlissimo, Star Light Perla, Cajun Baylor
1992 $10,000 Fall Juvenile – Cajun W Shachett, Snaps Swan Song, Rachel
1991 $12,500 Spring Juvenile – Greys Beaver, JC’s Wynken, Devilon
1991 $12,500 Fall Juvenile – DC Greystone, RL Dazzle, Hiland Dreamer
1990 $25,000 Wheeling Juvenile – CK’s Spud, Ion Powertrain, Imokie Cheeto
1989 $10,000 Wheeling Juvenile – Gull’s Beckett, Standing Tall, My Reeboker
1983 $20,000 Maiden Debut Puppy – Debonair Gambler, Mrs. Roper, Indio Gypsy

 

I was introduced to greyhound racing by a friend in the late 1970s at Wheeling Downs and fell in love with the sport and the athletes immediately. Throughout the years, I have developed a deep passion for racing. In the mid 1990s, I started writing a weekly greyhound column and shortly thereafter became a writer for The Greyhound Review.

I have enjoyed watching and writing about these wonderful competitors, including All-Americans DD's Nelson, Kiowa Sweet Trey, Gene's Champion, WW Apple Jax, Greys Royalcrown, Nimby TP Jan, Hi Noon Hero, Gable Sour Cream, KB's Ruckus and Cry Case.