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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

  It is nice to be in your 40s.

Three greyhounds enjoy that feeling when the $64,000 Sprint Classic wraps up four rounds of qualifying Wednesday night at Derby Lane.

Undefeated John Valazquez (Capabal kennel), Imark Keefer (Abernathy) and RT’s Bo Jangles (Cal Holland) are ensured to be in starting boxes for Saturday’s night’s 550-yard championship race. They have combined to win seven of the 10 qualifiers thus far, and track racing secretary Les Robison awaits to see which greyhounds rise to the occasion to fill the eight-dog field.

John Valazquez has 48 points, and Imark Keefer and RT’s Bo Jangles each have 42.

Light Her Up (Abernathy), which also appears to have a title spot locked up, is a distant fourth with 34 followed by Kaias Blackjack (Porter) at 29. They have the edge over the remaining 11 entrants that have points ranging from 13 to 22. With 16 points going to the winner of each qualifier, plenty of sprinters have opportunities to make the finale. But they will have to deal with the heavy hitters.

Imark Keefer (box 1) and Kaias Blackjack (8) drew into Race 6 at 8:39 p.m. Race 10 (9:47) appears to be the toughest test with John Valazquez (7), RT’s Bo Jangles (6) and Light Her Up (4).

Winner of the Sprint Classic, Derby Lane’s richest 550 stakes, earns $25,000.

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.