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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Ken Deacon is closing in on a half-century in the greyhound business, and two honors remain on his bucket list.

Having a Rural Rube winner as the sport’s top 550-yard athlete and an All-America captain.

LK’s Crush N It may check both boxes for the Lashmet kennel manager and trainer when this year’s accolades are distributed.

Matching the first half of 2019 will be challenging for LK’s Crush It to pull off, but another six months of excellence by the 31-month-old son of LK’s Now R Never and LK’s All In wouldn’t surprise Deacon.

“I look forward to him just doing the same,’’ Deacon said. “His record pretty much speaks for itself.’’

And what a record it was for Derby Lane’s recent January-to-June meet that resulted in LK’s Crush N It’s first top-dog title. The 75-pound greyhound enjoyed arguably one of the finest meets in track modern-day history with 29 victories, highlighted by his first two stakes championships, and never finishing worse than third in all 35 starts. He claimed the win crown by 13 over kennelmate LK’s Santorini.

LK’s Crush N It’s win total tied for the third highest at a six-month meet behind record-holder Cayman Went (Bahama Mama Greyhounds kennel), who compiled 36 wins in 2004. Joey Ice (Capabal) had in 31 victories in 2014, and Husker Magic (Abernathy) amassed 29, also in 2014.

All three greyhounds went on to claim the Rural Rube and All-America captain awards, but none matched the perfect in-the-money (top-four finish or better) effort of LK’s Crush N It. Besides his 29 wins by average of nearly 5.7 lengths, LK’s Crush N It was second five times and third once. His best stretches produced a career-best 11-race win streak from Jan. 23 to March 8, followed by an eight-race win streak from March 23 to April 29. He is owned by Derby Lane kennel operators and dog breeders, John and Jill Lashmet of Eaton, Colo.

Cayman Went had one out-of-the-money finish from 43 starts during his meet, an eighth-place showing caused by a fall. The 2015 Greyhound Hall of Fame inductee put together win streaks of 13 and 11. Joey Ice, who enjoyed win streaks of 12 and nine, had two of out-of-the-money showings from 39 starts. Husker Magic, Derby Lane’s all-time win leader with 105 lifetime victories, failed to pick up a paycheck six times from 44 outings after winning the first 10 starts of her meet.

“(LK’s Crush N It) is just as fast, just as good as those dogs,’’ said Deacon, who has been around greyhounds for 49 years. “I’ve never had one this good.’’

LK’s Crush N It’s stakes titles were the $64,000 Sprint Classic and the $18,000 1925 Historical Inaugural. He was undefeated in both 550-yard stakes races, and became the first greyhound since Hometown Boy (Floyd & Porter kennel) in 2007 to win the Sprint Classic without a loss throughout the five-round series.

A winner of 43 career races from 57 starts with $59,341 in purse earnings, LK’s Crush N It clocked the meet’s best 550 time at 30.15 seconds, and had four of the top nine clockings (30.18, 30.24 and 30.28 were the others).

LK’s Crush N It led Lashmet to a second-place tie with Abernathy in the kennel win standings behind two-time reigning champion Everett Racing, and helped the operation claim the most top-grade victories with 83, seven more than Everett Racing.

“He’s been a fabulous dog,’’ Deacon said. He’s been the workhorse of the kennel. We try to keep him to four or five days (between starts).

“John told me he was a fast one. He didn’t know how fast he was, but he thought he was the fastest one he ever raised.

“His strength is beating the box and getting to the lead. Being in front at the first turn is his game.’’

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.