Greyhound News
Friday, July 5, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Fourth of July brought fireworks, food and festivities.

For Jiminy Reno, it meant a fond farewell.

The Cal Holland kennel standout saw the Derby Lane racing surface from a different perspective Thursday, mingling with fans on the tarmac while occasionally watching greyhounds compete on the 550-yard track that he once ruled. Finally, he had to leave it all behind.

Jiminy Reno, the reigning Rural Rube winner as the sport’s best sprinter and All-America captain, has been retired from racing after failing to regain the form he once displayed in winning 58 races, three stakes championships, and several individual titles.

An upper leg injury, the result of a first-turn spill on April 13, led to his retirement. Jiminy Reno received more than two months of recovery time from Holland, and then was schooled twice in June. But it became apparent that his once dynamic box explosion and rush to the turn weren’t the same, so the decision to end the dog’s racing career ensued.

“I have had some good greyhounds before,’’ said kennel assistant Greg Morse, who paraded Jiminy Reno through the Derby Lane crowd with Holland out of town for a planned holiday gathering. “The ones like him don’t come very often.’’

Jiminy Reno, a 38-month-old male from a litter by Alivefortomorrow and Oceania, often had to share the spotlight with former kennelmate RT’s Bo Jangles, a two-time All-America first-team member (2017-18) who was retired this past February.

But when opportunities came Jiminy Reno’s way, the 74-pound greyhound didn’t disappoint sibling owners Kathleen Hastings of Abilene, Kan., and James Morgan of Colorado Springs, Colo. Jiminy Reno was Derby Lane’s dominant force in 2018, claiming both six-month meet win titles with a combined 45 victories and finish as the nation’s win leader, propelling him to Rural Rube and All-America captain status.

The 550-yard specialist also won his three stakes titles that year: the $50,000 Husker Magic Fall Sprint, the $20,000 Remembrance, and the $10,000 Howl-O-Ween.

The Howl-O-Ween completed Jiminy Reno’s trio of stakes scores in one calendar year, a feat not attained since Flying Coal City in 2010. The McAllister kennel dual-distance runner went on to win the industry’s Triple Crown that season as All-America captain, Rural Rube winner and Flashy Sir winner as the nation’s top distance athlete.

“A lot of credit goes to (Jiminy Reno’s) owners,’’ said Holland, the Tampa Bay Greyhound Association president after Jiminy Reno’s come-from-behind win over Flamenco Dancer of Farmer Racing kennel in the Howl-O-Ween finale. “Everyone keeps calling, wanting to buy (Jiminy Reno) or for them to send him to Southland (Park in West Memphis, Ark.), where there is more (purse) money. They said, ‘No, Cal’s got all the littermates.’ They’re happy with the way he runs, so they’re going to keep him with me as long as I need him. I’m very appreciative of that.’’

Jiminy Reno, whose best clocking at 550 yards was 30.12 seconds, enjoyed a 12-race win streak from May 23-July 13, 2018. He also had win streaks of seven, six and five. Jiminy Reno won 50.1 percent of his races, and had an in-the-money success rate of 80.7 percent with top-four finishes. He collected $68,936 in purse earnings during a 114-race career. Jiminy Reno began racing in September 2017 at Derby Lane.

“He was a stand-up dog while we had him here,’’ Derby Lane racing secretary Les Robison said. “It’s just a shame that his career was cut short by injury.’’

Morse said Hastings has informed him that Jiminy Reno will be sent to Abilene for breeding purposes. After that, plans are for the greyhound to be returned to St. Petersburg, where he will reside in the Morse residence.

“There’s been a lot of people in this business that haven’t come close to having an All-American, or having two All-Americans at the same time in the kennel,’’ Morse said. “You feel like you’ve been graced by the greyhound gods.’’

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.