Greyhound News
Friday, June 2, 2017

Eighty greyhounds took to the sand in the opening round of the $120,000 Razorback Classic a little more than three weeks ago and after two cuts in the field and four qualifying rounds, the competition was too tough for any single greyhound to come out undefeated. However, two trainers were able to double their odds of landed the first major stakes race championship at Southland for the 2017 racing season. Both Stephen Ulrich (Charter Kennel, Inc.) and Ray Brownlee (Plum Creek Kennel) each grabbed two of the eight final spots in the big race this coming Sunday at Southland Park Gaming & Racing.

For Stephen Ulrich, his two entries just happened to tie for the qualifying points lead as well. Both PJ DEPOSIT NOW (Djays Octane x Starz Blue Ruby) and BARTS GIRL (Trent Lee x Barts Companion) earned 50 points by virtue of two victories and two second place efforts during the four qualifying rounds. Another tie occurred for the second most points between stakes veteran BRASKA DALE (Darren Henry Kennel) and NEW PERSPECTIVE (Plum Creek Kennel) who each earned 47 points coming by two wins, a second and a third place finish. CBJ HOT PURSUIT (Mike Harris Kennel) was all alone with 45 points anchored by a couple of wins during qualifying which was plenty to earn a spot in the final field. The Natalie Thorne trained FIESTA PODER (David Blair Kennel) was the last dog of the group to earn two wins to earn him 41 points and shake off that seventh place effort in the third qualifying round. SE’S DAREDEVIL (Steve Sarras Kennel) earned trainer Scott Purdy a chance at the big money on Sunday with 40 points, just a point ahead of the last entry into the championship race, PJ PEYTONMANNING who’s 39 points was just good enough to earn Plum Creek Kennel a second entry into the final race of the event.

It is one of the most rounded championship fields we have seen for a while in this contest, with a lot of new faces to be seen. Other than Braska Dale, the other seven greyhounds come into the event with zero previous finals experience. One of the greatest to run over this course, Oshkosh Kid made a valiant effort in the qualifying rounds but had to withdraw due to a muscle injury sustained before the semi-finals. That means a new champion will be crowned. Let’s take a preview look at the championship field of the $120,000 Razorback Classic which is slated for race 11 this Sunday afternoon (in post position order)!

#1 – CBJ HOT PURSUIT (Kiowa Mon Manny x Macs Lonesomeluv) – Running for the Mike Harris Kennel and trained by Victor Hall, this 77 pound brindle male was bounced after two rounds last year in this event (finishing sixth and eight in two rounds), but obviously bounced back in a big way this year. He has a lot of experience running this course, as he was put over the longer distances just eight starts into his racing career. He has oscillated back and forth between the two highest grades and seems to be peaking at the right time. He has two wins in his last three starts sandwiched with a second place effort coming into the championship race. The key for this greyhound is that he is a totally different animal from an inside post, which he was able to get for the big race. This makes him a “pop or fade” contender, meaning if he takes advantage of this post and gets the lead he will be a tough number to catch. If not, he has shown to be content to fade towards the back of the pack.

#2 – PJ PEYTONMANNING (Pat C Clement x Canttellmenothin) – The first of two entries for the Plum Creek Kennel is also the last one to get in. With 39 qualifying points earned, he was just four points ahead of the next greyhound relegated to the consolation race. But don’t let that “last one in” thing deter you from his talent. He is a converted marathon runner (703 yards) who doesn’t lack the stamina it takes to run this course and has been the betting favorite many times during his races, even when he stepped it down to the 660 yard course for this event. He is not known for his breaking speed, but should he break better than normal, he has plenty of finishing kick. That is quite noticeable in his racing lines which was enough to run down fellow finalist CBJ HOT PURSUIT in the third round, stealing that victory. The 70 pound brindle male has a 13 race consecutive in the money streak intact coming into this race, making him a nice play in all the exotic wagers.

#3 - BARTS GIRL (Trent Lee x Barts Companion) – This is one talented little lady running for trainer Stephen Ulrich and the Charter Kennel. She can run multiple distances and is a threat in them all during the course of her career so far. She has competed in the Iron Dog Stakes, the Hound Madness Stakes (both 583 yard races) and now the Razorback Classic. She is probably the hottest thing running out of the eight in the championship field as well. Not only did she tie for the points lead in qualifying, but has run no worse than second in her last seven starts and four of them were victories. The races she didn’t win, she was only a length and a half off the leader. Another bonus for her is she is usually very quick out of the box which allows her to avoid most early traffic issues. If there is one kink to her armor, it is that she can be caught late in the race, especially at this distance. Her combination of post position, past performance and fast starts should land her in consideration for one of the favorites to potentially win it all. If not, it is very hard to picture a scenario where she gets a clean race and misses the trifecta.

#4 – FIESTA PODER (Djays Octane x Primed Az Mailie) – This 79 pound brindle male likely earns the title of “greyhound most under the radar” when it comes to this championship race. He arrived in early February at Southland Park and has only run five total 660-yard races here, but did have some experience at this distance at Derby Lane. A line from Forrest Gump probably explains this greyhound the best when he says “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”. Decent break, a slow grinding running style that isn’t flashy, and no signature moves make it very difficult to tell what you are going to see on Sunday from this pup who just turned two a couple days ago. Are you going to get that grinding win over fellow finalist BARTS GIRL that you saw in the semi-finals, or are you going to get that mid-pack fade to nearly last race that occurred the race before? One thing is for sure, if you believe the former, you will want to bet him in every way possible, because you are likely to get some good odds at the windows.

#5 – NEW PERSPECTIVE (KC And All x Norah Jones) – The second entry for trainer Ray Brownlee and the Plum Creek Kennel is a solid marathon runner who’s first look at the 660 yard course came during the qualifying rounds. Her running style appears to be a lot like fellow finalist CBJ HOT PURSUIT in that her success depends greatly on the first four or five seconds of the race. During qualifying this can be seen as she hasn’t failed to at least have the lead at some point in all the rounds. However, when you go back historically, she has given up on the race often when she doesn’t see the lead early on. The last two wins were hard earned victories, and she was the only greyhound coming into this race with that on the resume. But, with the #5 box as her starting point, another fast breaker or two to her inside and a lot to overcome, she can’t wait at all to make her move. She has been caught twice already in qualifying and was almost caught a third time in the semi-finals. If you are a believer in riding the hot hand, you may get rewarded handsomely at the mutuel windows as the attention likely will be on other greyhounds in this field.

#6 – PJ DEPOSIT NOW (Djays Octane x Starz Blue Ruby) – The second entry for the Charter Kennel also tied for the points lead at 50. There are a lot of other similarities with this 75 pounder to note. He started running distance races after his sixth career start and has had stints on both this course and the marathon course. He is also running hot, finishing no worse than fourth in six of his last seven races, and no worse than second during this stakes event. However, prior to that, there were many races that missed the pay sheet and you have to go back to February to find a similar hot streak. Admittedly, it is hard to overlook a greyhound that came less than a length from being undefeated in this event. While this post position isn’t the most ideal, it also isn’t something that should hinder his ability to get in the mix early. His best attribute is the “middle part” of the race where he often either grabs the lead or is very close to the leader by the escape turn. Out of all the greyhounds in the finals, this one is the toughest to predict.

#7 – BRASKA DALE (SH Avatar x Braska Daiquiri) – This stakes veteran knows about every square inch of this course, and regularly has success on it. This Gerald Love trained entry is used to the “big stage” earning a second place finish to All-American Oshkosh Kid in the Festival of Stakes Middle Distance Championship this past Fall. He is usually a factor in most races he runs, regardless of the competition and continues to perform at a high level earning a couple wins, a second and a third place effort in qualifying to finish tied for second in points. His midtrack running style will fit perfectly for this post position too as history will show both his wins and his second place effort came from this exact same post during qualifying. He doesn’t necessarily win at a high clip, but don’t let that get your guard down. He still has plenty left in the tank it appears and should be a factor out here once again.

#8 – SE’S DAREDEVIL (Pat C Clement x Demo Classy) – When this Steve Sarras Kennel entry first tried this course late last season, the results were mixed. The 75 pound brindle male won a grade C race but also failed impress in “B” and was promptly moved back to the sprint course. This Spring however, he was given another taste of the distance and the results were markedly different. He quickly made his way to grade “A” and even dusted a field by 10 lengths earning top grade status shortly before qualifying began. He’s also performed well during qualifying earning 40 points with a win and a couple of second place efforts. Despite a somewhat erratic running style, outside post positions have been favorable for him and this one may be no different. It is hard to see him win this event with the quality front to back this field holds, but to see him challenge for a spot in the top four isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

PREDICTION – With no clear cut winner in mind it appears the best play may be to turn to the good ole “boxing” method of throwing four dogs together and see what happens. Hard to ignore all the advantages that BARTS GIRL has with the speed and post position advantages. I like dogs that have been there before too, and BRASKA DALE fits that model to a “T”. From there, it is anybody’s guess, making this year’s championship “must see tv”. I usually default to post position in situations like this, which means I will throw in PJ PEYTONMANNING and CBJ HOT PURSUIT to make it a 1-2-3-7 box it the way you like it combination.

Shane Bolender