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Friday, April 6, 2018

 

 

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The forgotten greyhound may be the most remembered one Saturday in the $75,000 Distance Classic at Derby Lane. LK’s True Retro, the tournament’s undefeated point leader who was never favored in any of four qualifying rounds for Lashmet kennel, can put an exclamation point on her growing resume in the 59th edition of the track’s richest stakes race.

When the 660-yard feature takes place in Race 10 (9:47 p.m.), it will serve as a milestone for one of the eight finalists: None have ever won a stakes race. “It would be super,’’ Lashmet kennel manager-trainer Ken Deacon said. “It would be some redemption to make myself happy, and feel like I’m getting something out of the effort I’m putting in by myself.’’

While the betting public has overlooked LK’s True Retro throughout the event – she went off at odds of 4-1 (twice), 5-1 and 7-1 - Deacon has an excuse for not knowing much about the 29-month-old daughter from a litter by Barcelona Boss and LK’s Cherokee. It has been only one month since Deacon returned to Lashmet kennel following a 2-1/2-year stint with D’Arcy kennel.

“I wish I could tell you she’s coming into her own, but I’ll be honest, I don’t know that much about the dog,’’ Deacon said. “She was in Grade B when we started (at Lashmet). A light switch went on (with her) . . . . I don’t know why, I can’t tell you why. But (it may be) just a change of scenery (with kennel personnel). It’s hard to explain.’’

LK’s True Retro, bred and owned by kennel operators John and Jill Lashmet of Fort Lupton, Colo., has been somewhat of an enigma since beginning her career in June 2017. She won four of her first six starts, and then lost her next 15 races. Two starts later, she was moved from the 550-yard course to 660, where she fell twice within five outings. The 66-pound athlete has been improving since with seven wins in 19 subsequent starts.

Finishing first in all four qualifying races represents a career-high win streak for LK’s True Retro, who has 13 lifetime victories from 47 starts.

“She busted off that first one, and I was pleasantly surprised,’’ Deacon said. “Then the second one, she showed a lot of heart. In the third one when she broke (quickly) again, I went, ‘Oh, boy.’ On Wednesday night (in the final qualifier), the 6 hole was a testing for her. She’s just in a groove.

“She is flying under the wire. (In the third qualifier, the morning line) didn’t even put her on the bottom (of the racing program) to finish in the money. . . . I like that. There’s no pressure. If she messes up, well, that’s part of dog racing. And if she continues on her little streak, maybe I’ll get lucky and get a piece of the action when the race comes.’’

Lashmet kennel has won three stakes since joining Derby Lane in January 2013, all with different trainers. Its last championship came in January 2016 with Jack’s Timeless in the Inaugural. Deacon scored his only stakes title in recent history in June 2014 with Lashmet’s Jacks Lil Bigman in the St. Petersburg Derby.

LK’s True Retro starts from box 8 in the finale. The remainder of the field from the rail: Hula Hoopn Haley (Capabal kennel), Flying Hypatia (Lester Raines), HKF Sponge Bob (Farmer Racing), Tempest (D’Arcy), Swamp Yankee (Capabal), Rich N Famous (Farmer Racing) and PJ Kindadontcare (Rangel).

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.