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Thursday, March 9, 2017











 Two Wheeling Island greyhounds are All-Americans.

Last week, Kinda Cruel Red was named to the first team and Varoom Esme earned second team honors, the American Greyhound Track Operators Association announced.

In addition to Kinda Cruel Red, greyhounds named to the 2016 All-American first team are captain Seldom Told (Orange Park), Oaks Maddy (Southland), Need My Moneynow (Orange Park), Oshkosh Kid (Southland), Oya Stan The Man (Derby Lane), Husker Magic (Derby Lane) and Boc’s Tony Romo (Southland).

Joining Varoom Esme on the second unit are Chasmo’s Dutch (Southland), Martha Maccallum (Naples), Mike Huckabee (Naples), Ethel Is Here (Palm Beach), Joeslittlepebble (Naples), Lego Andrew (Derby Lane) and Mega Revelation (Derby Lane).

Kinda Cruel Red had a banner year at Wheeling Island in 2016 after arriving from Palm Beach in May. In 38 Wheeling starts, the sprinter had 20 wins, 7 seconds, 4 thirds and 1 fourth.

The Jacobs Racing Kennel star had a 6-race and a 3-race win streak, captured 52 percent of his races and hit the trifecta ticket in 81 percent of his starts. At Palm Beach, Kinda Cruel Red had 7 wins, 3 seconds, 2 thirds and 2 fourths in 17 trips.

“Anytime you move a greyhound from a mid-tier (Palm Beach) to a top-level (Wheeling) racetrack you have your doubts, but Kinda Cruel Red never skipped a beat and felt right at home,” Jacobs said. “Wheeling is taylor-made for him – he prefers a speed track.”

Jacobs, owner of 2015 All-American Highlyclassified, said a number of people contributed to Kinda Cruel Red’s success.

“I would like to thank Crystal Carroll and Monica Smith for doing such a great job developing Kinda Cruel Red in the early stages at Palm Beach and Louise Strong and her staff at Wheeling for keeping him ready to race week in and week out,” Jacobs said. “I would also like to thank the farm crew for their time and efforts in helping produce two All-Americans in two years.”

Kinda Cruel Red, an April 2014 greyhound out of Bella Infrared-Cruel To Be Kind, is owned by Ed Piziak Jr.

“I am grateful to Ed Piziak and his son-in-law Paul Wheeler for trusting me to race such a fine greyhound,” Jacobs added. “I am so proud of him and what he’s accomplished on the racetrack.”

Varoom Esme had a banner year at Wheeling Island last year as well, highlighted by her capturing the win championship with 23 victories. In addition to her win total, the sprint star had 11 seconds, 3 thirds and 3 fourths.

The Cardinal Kennel standout had a pair of 4-race and 3-race win streaks, won 47 percent of her races (all but one in Grade AA) and hit the trifecta ticket in 77 percent of her starts. At Mardi Gras late in the year, Esme had 2 wins, 1 second and 1 third in four starts.

Owner Dean Miner was overjoyed by Esme’s All-America honor and the support from Wheeling racing fans.

“As an owner who is present, sitting amongst the fans every day, I get pretty colorful feedback. Sometimes not very polite, but nothing makes me happier than a patron approaching me to thank me for one of my greyhounds making them money on a wager,” Miner said. “Esme rendered me a lot of great compliments and smiles from the Wheeling faithful. Racing fans, win or lose, love a greyhound that always tries and win or lose – she always gave 100 percent. Her being named to this illustrious team is something that I’ll never forget and I’m thrilled that she’s representing our home track.”

Miner said many hands deserve credit for Varoom Esme’s success.

“Much of the credit goes to Mark Spahos for helping decide the breeding, Cardinal Kennel owner Bob Mackey, trainer Waymon Varner, the two farms that handled her (Koerner and Schmidt), Kay Smith who raised Esme’s sire Kiowa Mon Manny and Vince Berland who raised her dam Flying Bassey,” Miner said. “I’m just the lucky guy at the end of a long line of talented people that contributed to Esme’s success.”

The annual naming of the All-America team dates back to 1963. Member tracks of the AGTOA cast ballots.

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.