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Friday, October 22, 2021

Blanchard Kennel’s Penrose Boss heads up a solid field for the Saturday afternoon final of the $100,000 Mountaineer Classic at Wheeling Island.

The 3-year-old sprinter had two victories and two seconds in the four qualifying round races to accumulate a leading 50 points. Penrose Boss finished fourth in the 2020 Mountaineer Classic championship final.

Three kennels – Blanchard, Lester Raines and Jacobs Racing – each have two greyhounds in the final while the Imark and Steve Sarras kennels have one finalist.

Completing this year’s championship final field are Teaser’s Tickle (Lester Raines Kennel), 46 points; Frappe (Blanchard Kennel), 45 points; Abbi’s Eagle (Jacobs Racing Kennel), Ding Dong Ditch (Imark Kennel) and CTW Black Forest (Steve Sarras Kennel), 37 points each; Abbi’s Frontman (Jacobs Racing Kennel) and RS’s Dark Night (Lester Raines Kennel), 34 points each.

Abbi’s Eagle and Abbi’s Frontman are littermates.

Post positions for the final, from the rail out, follow: 1—Teaser’s Tickle, 2—CTW Black Forest, 3—Abbi’s Eagle, 4—RS’s Dark Night, 5—Penrose Boss, 6—Ding Dong Ditch, 7—Frappe, 8—Abbi’s Frontman.

The winning greyhound in the championship final will earn $42,000. The complete purse breakdown is second, $18,000; third, $13,000; fourth, $10,000; fifth and sixth, $5,500 each; and seventh and eighth, $3,000 each.

The stakes final will be Race 12 on the Saturday matinee race card.

Following are capsule looks at the finalists:

1—TEASER’S TICKLE (Lester Raines Kennel, trainer Joel Roden) – had three straight impressive victories by a combined 23 lengths in the qualifiers after a seventh in the first round; one of the youngest greyhounds in the final, the pup broke his Maiden in August and has won eight out of his 13 career races.

2—CTW BLACK FOREST (Steve Sarras Kennel, trainer Barb Long) – had two wins, a third and an eighth in the early rounds; the frontrunner went to the lead in three out of his four qualifying races, all from inside posts; made the final after returning to racing in September after being off for three months with an injury.

3—ABBI’S EAGLE (Jacobs Racing Kennel, trainer Louise Strong) – had two wins, a fourth and a sixth in the qualifying round races; while more of a closer from just off the pace, has gone to the front on occasion; also off for three months in the summer rehabbing an injury before coming back in September.

4—RS’S DARK NIGHT (Lester Raines Kennel, trainer Joel Roden) – had a win, a second, a third and a sixth in the qualifying races; captured the West Virginia-bred Juvenile championship last month; not a ton of box speed, but possesses a power rush to the first turn and finishing speed; prefers to race on the outside.

5—PENROSE BOSS (Blanchard Kennel, trainer Sarah Blanchard) – had two victories and two seconds in the qualifiers to top all the finalists with 50 points; needs to find room early in the race, does have some closing speed; has been a mark of consistency, hitting the pay sheet (top four) in 14 out of his last 15 trips.

6—DING DONG DITCH (Imark Kennel, trainer DiAnn Derr) – had a win, two seconds and a sixth in the preliminary round races; probably the biggest surprise to earn a spot in the stakes final; raced from all inside posts in the qualifiers, so the midtrack hole will be a challenge; will need to pop the box to have a shot.

7—FRAPPE (Blanchard Kennel, trainer Sarah Blanchard) – had two wins, a second and a fourth in the early rounds; multi-dimensional – has the ability to go to the front or come from behind; prefers an inside post, but had two nice efforts from the five hole in the early rounds; needs to outbreak the rail crashing eight.

8—ABBI’S FRONTMAN (Jacobs Racing Kennel, trainer Louise Strong) – had two wins and two sixths in the preliminary round races; earned his spot in the final with a win from a favorable one box in the semifinals; two sixth place finishes in the qualifiers were from the outside, so post position not too kind.

RACE ANALYSIS:

One thing is certain about this year’s Mountaineer Classic final – it’s wide open as many of the greyhounds have drawn less than favorable posts for their running styles.

One greyhound, however – CTW Black Forest – has drawn a preferred inside post position and should break sharp from the box, move to the rail and rush to the early lead. Greyhounds on each side of CTW Black Forest – Teaser’s Tickle and Abbi’s Eagle – are in line to get trips behind the frontrunner.

One of those two could claim the championship as CTW Black Forest has shown a tendency to be a tad short in the homestretch but still looms as a ticket play. Don’t count out Frappe, although she would prefer an inside hole. In four out of her last five races, Frappe has been first or second at the first turn with three of those races from the difficult five box. If she hits it from the seven post, things will get interesting.

All of these greyhounds are talented or they wouldn’t be in the final, but each will need a little luck on their side as well.

Congrats to all the finalists and connections and good luck in the championship.

I was introduced to greyhound racing by a friend in the late 1970s at Wheeling Downs and fell in love with the sport and the athletes immediately. Throughout the years, I have developed a deep passion for racing. In the mid 1990s, I started writing a weekly greyhound column and shortly thereafter became a writer for The Greyhound Review.

I have enjoyed watching and writing about these wonderful competitors, including All-Americans DD's Nelson, Kiowa Sweet Trey, Gene's Champion, WW Apple Jax, Greys Royalcrown, Nimby TP Jan, Hi Noon Hero, Gable Sour Cream, KB's Ruckus and Cry Case.