Greyhound News
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Trainer Brett Goucher knew he had something special in a little 58 pound black female. Sure, the wins were coming regularly enough but the high profile wins in stakes events seemed to just be out of her reach. After misses at Southland in the 2015 Festival of Stakes and this year’s Southland Derby, Oaks Maddy kept pounding away. This Fall, she finally kicked the door down in this year’s Festival of Stakes by winning the $100,000 Arkansas Bred Sprint Championship. Although that particular division doesn’t necessarily spark All-American visions, the way she accomplished it surely raised some eyebrows. She went undefeated during qualifying and then left little doubt by winning by 3 ½ lengths in that championship race on October 1st. Still, fans wanted to see more. Race against the best that Southland has to offer in a single field and let’s see how she does they were thinking. That moment was granted the following week.

On October 8th, the $10,000 Kings Vs. Queens Challenge would take place. The vast majority of the field would be comprised of the top four finishers in the $150,000 Festival of Stakes Darby Henry Male and Female Divisions which would have left Oaks Maddy looking in from the outside. However, in a unique format twist, the nine dog field for this particular race allowed for one wildcard entry. Members of United Greyhound Racing (one of the main drivers behind the Kings Vs. Queens Challenge) felt that Oaks Maddy was so impressive during her run in the Festival of Stakes that she should be invited to race against the best as well. More than the added purse for the winner of the race was the fact that the winner would also receive an automatic invitation to the BetAmerica Daytona 550 Invitational National Championship race in January. Would Oaks Maddy take advantage of this opportunity or would she revert back to a participant in the race while others basked in the glory? A 32 second trip around the West Memphis oval would answer that question.

No doubt the field was stout, with Flying Bosnian (Lester Raines Kennel) and Boc’s Doubleshot (Bussmann-Balakas, LLC) coming in fresh off their victories in the Darby Henry Sprint Championship in the female and male divisions respectively. Chasmo’s Dutch (Lester Raines Kennel) was also lurking around coming off his 3rd place effort in the male division and was looking for a shot at redemption after participating last year in the BetAmerica Daytona 550 race with a lot of hoopla only to not deliver his connections a national championship trophy. Eternal “board hitter” Forchinit (Northshore Kennel) drew the coveted rail post of which she dearly loves and hadn’t missed the trifecta in her last five consecutive starts. Fiesta Magdalene (David Blair Kennel) barely slipped into this race after holding on to a contested fourth place finish in her division, but was positioned inside enough (#3) to make it interesting. Lagro CC Nance (Magic City Kennel) nearly pulled off a mild upset in the female division finishing second to Flying Bosnian by a length and a half but drew the #5 post which can be problematic in a field as deep and talented as this. WW Kung Fu Po (Wayne R. Ward, Inc.) was looking to parlay his early speed to try and hold on for another win after settling for 2nd in the male division the prior week chasing Boc’s Doubleshot most of the way around the track. Finally, stakes veteran SE Tali Sundance (Charter Kennel, Inc.) lurked in the 9 box hoping to reward his backers in this race after he failed to do so as a betting favorite in the male division the prior week and held on for a 4th place finish to just get him in this winner take all championship event.

The impressive lines in the program for Oaks Maddy (five straight wins) was enough to make her the wagering favorite in the race, even though she was the wild card entry in the event and seemingly coming from a weaker division, even though she claimed the championship in it. Her #2 post position didn’t hurt her cause either and she used that to her advantage right from the start. As the race started, she exploded out of there getting plenty of early room on the inside to operate with. Flying Bosnian showed her championship moxie as well going step for step with Maddy while SE Tali Sundance also used his outside position to clear the field early and it was a three way race to the first turn.

As the pack roared through the first turn, Oaks Maddy held her ground on the rail but a strong charging SE Tali Sundance grabbed a half-length lead advantage on her while Flying Bosnian shifted just enough midtrack to lose leverage and settled into third place. WW Kung Fu Po led the rest of the pack in fourth claiming some midtrack real estate while Lagro CC Nance could see the entire field despite still laying close at that point. It was a rather quick pace to this point and it was apparent that a sub 32 second winning time was likely due to the lack of bumping or other traffic issues. The battle would continue down the backstretch.

In the last full straightaway, neither Oaks Maddy or SE Tali Sundance was willing to give up ground. Flying Bosnian was digging in but wasn’t able to really gain on the 3 lengths she had spotted them in the turn and the rest of the pack was getting a little further back. Only late charging Forchinit was able to really improve her position going from 7th to now fifth and slowly gaining with plenty of rail room in front of her. As the field was about to enter the final turn, Oaks Maddy was able to get her head in front of her rival as the pack behind her was assuming more a single file pattern. The stretch run in this race would prove to be pivotal.

The turn for home proved to be the winning margin for Oaks Maddy. Her rail hugging running style allowed her to gain a full length lead on SE Tali Sundance who chose a lane a couple of feet off the rail. Flying Bosnian was laying a close third but couldn’t really gain on the leaders but a greyhound who was gaining was Forchinit who was now fourth but time was running out to improve much more than that. As the bright lights of the finish line approached, Oaks Maddy cruised to claim the championship by 3 ½ lengths over SE Tali Sundance who settled for runner up position by holding off a hard charging Forchinit who finished 3rd. Flying Bosnian was all alone for fourth while the rest of the field made up the also rans with WW Kung Fu Po finishing fifth, Fiesta Magdalene claiming sixth, Boc’s Doubleshot ended up seventh, Chasmo’s Dutch a disappointing eighth and Lagro CC Nance never mounting a challenge to the field finishing ninth.

The victory gave Oaks Maddy her second championship in a week’s time and cemented her place in the national championship race at Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room towards the end of January. It also finally answered the questions of “can she win the big one” and “can she beat a deep and talented field” with a resounding “YES”! Oaks Maddy runs for the Gloria Dorsey Kennel and is owned by Mick Hymes.

Shane Bolender