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Monday, February 26, 2018

Ten front-runners. Ten winners.

The perfect streak of greyhounds sprinting to the lead early and holding on in $64,000 Sprint Classic qualifying remained intact Saturday night when John Valazquez of Capabal kennel and Imark Keefer of Abernathy kennel captured third-round action at Derby Lane.

John Valazquez is the only dog to win each qualifier. He sits about atop the point standings with 48. The 37-month-old male from a litter by Dragon Fire and Awesome Fling prevailed by one length in 30.36 seconds on the 550-yard course. He paid $3.80 to win.

Owned by Kathleen Thurber and trained by Belinda Parker, John Valazquez is assured of a berth in Saturday night’s championship race that pays $25,000 to the winner. It was his 43rd lifetime victory, including a title in the $18,000 1925 Historical Inaugural Stakes Jan. 6 for kennel owner Henry Parker.

Imark Keefer held off previously unbeaten RT’s Bo Jangles of Cal Holland kennel by three-quarters of a length in 30.43 seconds for trainer Claudio Lopez and owner Imark Kennels. The 38-month-old male out of a litter by Bella Infrared and Casino Zada claimed career victory No. 35 and paid $19.60 to win for kennel owners Jim and Kayruth Abernathy.

Imark Keefer raised his point total to 42, tied for second with RT’s Bo Jangles. Both greyhounds have enough points for the title race.

Qualifying concludes Wednesday night in Races 6 and 10. Eight dogs with the most accumulative points receive championship berths.

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.