Greyhound News
Thursday, March 22, 2018

Much like this year’s college basketball tournament, the first two rounds of the “Hound Madness” Stakes at Southland Park featured plenty of upsets. Mirroring what was witnessed on the hardwood, the #1 overall seed Flying Wolf Pack, captain of the All-American Team and top dog in 2017 at Southland Park fell to a #16 seed, although it was revealed later that a muscle injury sustained during the race was the primary reason for the upset.

Also like the big tournament, even though the first two rounds feature upsets, once the dust settles and you get down to the final handful of teams (or in this case greyhounds), you find the familiar faces that grace your best races on a weekly basis. This year’s version of the doggie tournament is no different.

Except in one case. BOB’S GIBBS (Bussmann-Balakas, LLC) started in the tournament’s East Region as a nine seed and arguably has had the easiest road to reach the “Greyt 8” round which happened on Wednesday. That was due to the #1 seed in the region (TMC’s Zoomba) also being upset in the opening round of action leaving red brindle male to deal with a #16 seed (Mytimetofly) in the second round. Eyes opened up some to his talents when he also took out #4 seeded IMARK LESLIE in the “Sleek 16” which set up a one on one showdown with the #2 seed of the region, PAY TREE IT (Northshore Kennel). It would also be the first of four match races on Wednesday’s twenty race card which by the end of that day would eliminate half the field to get to our Furry Four round which runs on Monday, March 26ths twilight performance.

Both greyhounds (PAY TREE IT and BOB’S GIBBS) had similar racing styles. They were not known for early speed at all, but for closing speed of varying degrees. Pay Tree It certainly looked the part on paper, not only advancing by beating the greyhound in the bracket matched with him, but also winning or running second in the entire race of dogs to boot. On the other side, Bob’s Gibbs was just getting by, finishing third and fifth to advance, but pulling out a late victory once the field was reduced to four dog races, which included beating PAY TREE IT in the Sleek 16 round.

The key was to get the lead in this particular race, and that proved itself out one the starting box opened. BOB’S GIBBS got that slight advantage right out of the starting box and held a slight one to two length lead around the entire oval. Their near equal talents were obvious to the betting public as well, as they had nearly the same number of backers to win. At the end of betting, BOB’s GIBBS returned $2.80 to win, which would be the highest price you would see amongst the four match races that day.

Favorites dominated the other three races of the day as heavy favorites FLYING ROCKY (Lester Raines Kennel), who was the #2 seed in the West Region, and kennel mate FLYING JIGGLYPUFF (#1 seed in the Midwest Region) each cruised into the Furry Four with easy victories. In the South Region, #2 seeded KONOMI (A Ray Kennel) continues to impress as a young star at Southland Park as the red fawn male got his tenth win on the year by cruising in his match race against IMARK SLEET (Steve M. Sarras Kennel) to nail the final spot left for the next round.

The “FURRY FOUR” round preview of the Hound Madness Stakes is below. The winners of that round will face off in the championship which is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, March 31st.

BOB’S GIBBS (East Region Champ - #9 seed) – 14/4-1-3-3

Bussmann-Balakas Kennel

1st Round – Defeated #8 seed FIRSTINCLINATION (3rd place vs. 5th place)

2nd Round – Defeated #16 seed MYTIMETOFLY (5th place vs. 6th place)

3rd Round – Defeated #4 seed IMARK LESLIE (1st place vs. 2nd place)

4th Round – Defeated #2 seed PAY TREE IT (1st place vs. 2nd place)

Summary – You could make the case he has had the easiest overall road into the Furry Four round, but now that we are down to match race style elimination rounds, a greyhound with his late speed is dangerous if he breaks to the lead. He will face argueably his toughest challenge with super pup KONOMI for a spot in the championship who displays a quick start and has won outright six of his last seven races. As the highest seed to get to the Furry Four in a while, this particular matchup is going to be a tough one to overcome, especially if he gets behind Konomi by two or three lengths early in the race. Will the Cinderella story continue for trainer Darren Flahive?


KONOMI (South Region Champ - #2 seed) – 15/10-3-1-0

A Ray Kennel

1st Round – Defeated #15 seed ARKANS SCOOBY (1st place vs. 7th place)

2nd Round – Defeated #10 seed XT’S WILT (2nd place vs. 7th place)

3rd Round – Defeated #11 seed WW’S GO PACK GO (1st place vs. 3rd place)

4th Round – Defeated #13 seed IMARK SLEET (1st place vs. 2nd place)

Summary – Approaching his third birthday in a couple of months, this young star has been on a tear over his last twenty starts, even before this stakes race began. 14 victories in 21 starts at Southland (includes the last part of the 2017 season) tells you this red fawn male is used to winning full eight greyhound fields, nevermind the four and two dog fields he has been experiencing in the past two rounds of this tournament. He possesses a nice combination of early breaking speed, rushing speed and has the stamina to finsh a race off with plenty left in his tank. Everything you see with your eyes tells you he should be the heavy favorite in his match race against BOB’S GIBBS on Monday. However, since the race will be decided on the track itself, anyone who has followed greyhound racing historically can tell you that the best dog doesn’t always win the race on a given day. But it seems it will take a lot to keep KONOMI out of the championship round next week.

FLYING ROCKY (West Region Champ - #2 seed) – 14/4-4-2-4

Lester Raines Kennel

1st Round – Defeated #15 seed MAKING TIME (4th place vs. 7th place)

2nd Round – Defeated #10 seed TMC’S MACOM CRY (1st place vs. 3rd place)

3rd Round – Defeated #3 seed WW ZACH THE GEEK (1st place vs. 2nd place)

4th Round – Defeated #4 seed AMF LA LAKER (1st place vs. 2nd place)

Summary – If BOB’s GIBBS seemed to have the easiest road to the FURRY FOUR, then FLYING ROCKEY definitely had the hardest road to this point. The brindle male had to flat out win the entire race to advance in the third round thanks to a spirited effort on the part of WW ZACH THE GEEK. Although he was winning races at a clip of once every three starts last season, he cooled down some and has had only 4 in 14 races this season so far, including two against short fields his past two starts. FLYING ROCKY might possess the best pure rushing speed to the first turn in the FURRY FOUR, however he is also known to be able to be caught late in a race as you can see some slight tiring in the homestretch runs on the 583-yard Arkansas Course. He will also be racing for kennel bragging rights as he goes against his half-brother, FLYIN JIGGLYPUFF in a race to determine who advances to the finals, and his half-brother has been running arguably better over the past two or three weeks. This race will likely be determined in the first seven seconds.


FLYIN JIGGLYPUFF (Midwest Region Champ - #1 seed) – 13/7-3-1-2

Lester Raines Kennel

1st Round – Defeated #16 seed JIM NEIDHART (1st place vs. 5th place)

2nd Round – Defeated #9 seed ARKANS BD DOC (1st place vs. 8th place)

3rd Round – Defeated #5 seed KOBAYASHI (2nd place vs. 3rd place)

4th Round – Defeated #15 seed CH BUZZ ON BY (1st place vs. 2nd place)

Summary – Well he did what a #1 seed should do, which is advance to this point in the tournament. However the red male isn’t without a small bit of luck in this tournament. In the Sleek 16 round, he advanced with a second place effort, but in the bigger scope of the race, lost the overall race to the #15 seed CH BUZZ ON BY. A few days later though, and FLYIN JIGGLYPUFF did what was expected and won by five lengths going away in the head’s up rematch. He is used to winning “AA” races against full fields, so you think a match race against his half-brother may be easy, right? He has more wins on the year, has won five of his past seven starts and doesn’t appear to suffer from “homestretch fatigue” like his sibling does. However, the one kink in the mighty armor of FLYIN JIGGLYPUFF is the unexplainable erratic breaking speed. Sharp one race and sitting in the box the next, you never know what type of start he will get off too. That can be dangerous in a match race where you can’t count on trouble or other slow breakers to fade it. The good thing though, is that he should have plenty of room to catch up should that happen, and in a hurry. If on the lead early, or within a length or two in the far turn, either scenario should smell like roses for this star as he looks to represent the Lester Raines Kennel and trainer Ken Lesperance in the championship event next weekend.

The Furry Four will be held on races 6 and 10 this coming Monday (win wagering only). The winner of both races will face off head’s up in a match race for the championship during the 13th race on Saturday, March 31st during the matinee performance.

ADDED PURSE INFORMATION Total Purse Added - $34,000 Winner - $15,000 Runner-Up - $7,500 3rd/4th - $2,500 5th-8th - $1,625

Shane Bolender