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Monday, May 22, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Just how capable have the Capabal kennel pups been so far in the $20,000 Remembrance Stakes at Derby Lane?

Very capable.

Post positions have been drawn for Wednesday night’s fourth and final round of qualifying in the inaugural edition of the 550-yard race, and it appears that all three Capabal entries have already punched their respective tickets to the championship race on the May 29 Memorial Day matinee performance.

Undefeated John Valazquez, and littermates Brian Ernst and David Lopez rank in the top five in accumulative points for kennel owner Henry Parker.

John Valazquez, named after the two-time Kentucky Derby-winning Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, is the point leader with 48 after his third consecutive qualifying win on Saturday. Brian Ernst, who finished third after two opening-round victories, is third with 40 points. David Lopez is fifth with 29 points following a fifth-place showing.

All three greyhounds are trained by Belinda Parker for owner Raymond Thurber.

John Valazquez drew box-6 in Race 6 (8:39 p.m.) on Wednesday. David Lopez (post-1) and Brian Ernst (8) start in Race 10 (9:47).

The top eight greyhounds advance to the finale. RT’s Bo Jangles, who won his second consecutive qualifier on Saturday for Derby Lane leading kennel Cal Holland, ranks second in points with 42. The remainder of the top-eight in points: Poweroftraction (Nova kennel) at 30, Jeff Sessions (Farmer Racing) at 28, Fiesta Ironman (Burk Greyhounds) at 24, and Sovereign Fort (D’Arcy) at 22.

The Remembrance, which replaced the Fall Juvenile on the track’s stakes schedule this season, pays $9,000 to the winner.

Don Jensen

I have been a sports writer in the newspaper industry for 40 years: working in Florida, Maryland and Virginia. I moved to Florida in 1984 after serving as the publicity director of Charles Town Race Track, a thoroughbred facility in West Virginia. I reside in Tampa, Fla., and cover the Tampa Bay area parimutuel scene – both greyhounds and thoroughbreds – and write about high school sports for the Tampa Bay Times.