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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

 The top three finishers in the West Virginia Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association Juvenile Stakes in September will be vying for the top prize in the $65,000 WVGOBA Sprint Stakes Friday afternoon at Wheeling Island.

Patriot/Taplin Kennel’s GF Street Song will be going for a stakes double in the sprint after capturing the juvenile championship. She went to post as a 19-1 long shot in the juvenile final.

Kennel-mate GF Zelda took runner up honors in the juvenile while Steve Sarras Kennel’s CET Dirty Nicki finished third.

The Sarras Kennel sends four greyhounds to the post in the sprint final – Leo The Lover, Grim Beavers and Nola Nikole in addition to CET Dirty Nicki. Patriot/Taplin has three finalists – GF Street Song, GF Zelda and GF Taras Tango – while the Rico Racing Kennel will be represented by Ken McNabb.

From the rail out, the post positions for the final are: 1—Leo The Lion, 2—GF Taras Tango, 3—Ken McNabb, 4—GF Street Song, 5—CET Dirty Nicki, 6—Grim Beavers, 7—GF Zelda, 8—Nola Nikole.

Following are capsule looks at the finalists by post position:

1 – Leo The Lover (Steve Sarras Kennel, trainer Barbara Long): had two victories and a sixth in the qualifiers; draws a preferred inside post position; wants and needs to get the front early.

2 – GF Taras Tango (Patriot/Taplin Kennel, trainer Joe Otto): had a win, a third and a fifth in the three qualifying races; the powerful closer may need a benefit to have a chance of winning the stake.

3 – Ken McNabb (Rico Racing Kennel, trainer Dan Freck): has a pair of wins and a third in the preliminary round races; has been breaking sharp in her last five races; needs to be on or near the front.

4 – GF Street Song (Patriot/Taplin Kennel, trainer Joe Otto): had two dominating victories in the early rounds; will need to pop the box from the middle hole just like she did in winning the juvenile stake.

5 – CET Dirty Nicki (Steve Sarras Kennel, trainer Barbara Long): had two seconds by only a length each race and a fourth in the qualifiers; has plenty of closing speed but needs a clean trip through the first turn.

6 – Grim Beavers (Steve Sarras Kennel, trainer Barbara Long): had a win, a third and a fifth in the early round races; can break quickly on occasion but it may be a tall order against this field; can close in the stretch.

7 – GF Zelda (Patriot/Taplin Kennel, trainer Joe Otto): topped all qualifiers with a pair of victories and a second in the preliminary outings; has the box speed and rush to be on or near the front by the first turn.

8 – Nola Nikole (Steve Sarras Kennel, trainer Barbara Long): had two wins and a fourth in the early rounds after being idle for several months; prefers driving to the first turn from midtrack post positions.

Six of the stakes finalists are Wheeling based greyhounds, Leo The Lover, GF Taras Tango, Ken McNabb, Grim Beavers, GF Zelda and Nola Nikole – while two racers, CET Dirty Nicki and GF Street Song, are invaders from Tri-State Greyhound Park.

RACE ANALYSIS: It will be a speed battle to the first turn between several greyhounds, but the most likely candidates to be on or near the front are Leo The Lover and GF Zelda. If Leo The Lover has the lead, and the margin is small, GF Zelda has the power to make up ground. If GF Zelda is on the front, he’ll be very difficult to catch.

From this view, it looks like GF Zelda breaks quickly again from the midtrack hole, drives up and around to the front by the first turn and never looks back in capturing the stakes crown. Nola Nikole follows the frontrunner around the track and grabs part of the trifecta ticket.

In the $1 trifecta, let’s go 7-8-all, 7-all-8 and 7 over 1, 3, 5. In the $1 superfecta, let’s go 7 over 1, 2, 3 and 5.

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.