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Monday, November 25, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Stake, not turkey, tops the racing menu this week at Derby Lane.

For sprinters, the $10,000 Thanksgiving Stakes offers greyhounds a final shot at a 550-yard title in 2019.

Sixteen dogs have been entered for the two qualifying races on Wednesday in Races 6 (8:39 p.m.) and 10 (9:47). The top four finishers in each event earn berths to the championship race on Saturday.

No greyhound will draw more attention than LK’s Crush N It of Lashmet kennel. Trained by Ken Deacon for breeders and owners John and Jill Lashmet of Eaton, Colo., the 35-month-old son of LK’s Now R Never and LK’s All In can hit the $100,000 plateau in career earnings by winning his fifth title of the year. First place pays $4,500.

A winner in 63 of 85 lifetime starts, LK’s Crush N It is leading the meet win standings by a 20-17 margin over Deco Colt Gun of Nova kennel as he attempts to win back-to-back, top-dog crowns. He has won 10 of his previous 12 starts, including two stakes titles: the Husker Magic Fall Sprint and the Howl-O-Ween. LK’s Crush N It’s other stakes crowns this year include the Sprint Classic and the 1925 Historical Inaugural.

LK’s Crush N It drew post 2 in Race 10. A victory on Wednesday would be his 50th this year.

“(Box 2) is not exactly one of his better post positions,’’ Derby Lane racing secretary Les Robison said. “He is sitting between Kentucky Boy (box 1, Cal Holland kennel) and Flying Givenchy (box 3, Everett Racing), who are both also extremely quick out of the box.

“Any one of those three could break quickly and set up the race for themselves. O Ya Smack Down (Lester Raines) is coming from the outside – the 7 dog – and if there’s any kind of a tie-up on the inside break, the 7 might be able to sneak a spot in the final.’’

Deco Colt Gun also drew into the race from box 6.

“Race 10 is going to be the tougher of the two races,’’ Robison said. “The other race (6) is a toss-up; I guess either LK’s Santorini (box 3, Lashmet kennel) or BD Wells (box 2, Everett Racing) stand out in that one.’’

Flying Givenchy is the only greyhound to defeat LK’s Crush N It in a stakes final this year – winning the T.L. Weaver Memorial Challenge on Aug. 17.

“(LK’s Crush N It) is only running anywhere from 4-5 days (between starts), and (Deacon) doesn’t have him going (every) three days,’’ Robison said. “Getting him that extra day (of rest) seems to be working pretty good for the dog.’’

The Thanksgiving field in post-position order:

Race 6 – Son Shine (ABC Racing), BD Wells, LK’s Santorini, Audible (Capabal), Deco Gatling Gun (Nova), Braska Rebel (Abernathy), Rich N Famous (Farmer Racing) and Where U Want Me (Bartley Corporation).

Race 10 – Kentucky Boy, LK’s Crush N It, Flying Givenchy, TNT Sherlock (Patriot), Kaias Alex (Floyd), Deco Colt Gun, O Ya Smack Down and Fulham Cottage (D’Arcy).

HOLIDAY SCHEDULE. Robison said Derby Lane will not have live racing on Thanksgiving, but the track will offer a Friday doubleheader with 12-race cards on the matinee and evening performances. The usual doubleheader on Saturday remains with matinee and evening 15-race programs.

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.