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Friday, February 23, 2018

Dogs barked in early afternoon as Jim Abernathy turned out greyhounds in his kennel.

They wanted to go outside, except for Light Her Up.

“She’s laid back and likes to stay in the kennel,’’ Abernathy said. “When everyone else goes outside, you have to go in and get her,’’

The Derby Lane kennel owner doesn’t mind making exceptions for Light Her Up, who has been making a good impression in her first stakes test.

The 25-month-old female from a litter by two-time All-America first-team member SH Avatar and KB’s Cadavi remains in contention for a championship berth as third-round qualifying in the $64,000 Sprint Classic is held Saturday at Derby Lane.

The 550-yard series is the track’s richest sprint stakes with the finale slated March 3.

Light Her Up has 26 points after finishing second in Wednesday’s second round. She is tied for third on the leader board behind co-leaders John Valazquez of Capabal kennel and RT’s Bo Jangles of Cal Holland kennel. Light Her Up drew into Race 10 (9:47 p.m.) and starts from box 6. Abernathy also has Imark Keefer in Race 6 (8:39). Imark Keefer starts from box 5 with 26 points as well.

“It would be a little bit of a surprise for me (if Light Her Up made the finale),’’ Abernathy said. “She matured a little bit slowly, but has come on to be a pretty nice dog. She was no world beater in the beginning. Once she gets the lead, she puts in a pretty good effort.’’

Light Her Up was not scheduled to run in the Sprint Classic. But Abernathy made the change when I Like Big Bucks, a winner of seven races and originally slotted into her spot, sustained a toe injury.

“(Light Her Up) was basically the only other Grade A I had to give (toward entries),’’ he said.

Owned by Randy Finegan’s Dream Hounds and Richard Arrington, Jr., Light Her Up did not have a Grade A win until her 34th career race – the start before the Sprint Classic. She matched that performance with another win in her stakes debut for her third consecutive victory. All three wins were in box-to-wire fashion. “She likes to go to the lead,’’ Abernathy said. “That’s her best race. She will come off the pace, but I’d rather have her in front.’’

Light Her Up failed to clock a 550-time less than 31 seconds until her 24th start. The winner of 10 of 36 races posted a career-best clocking of 30.38 seconds Feb. 10.

Qualifying ends Wednesday, when the top eight greyhounds with the most accumulative points move to the championship.