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Thursday, November 21, 2019

A Ray Kennel’s Mac’s Trudeaux tops all qualifiers for the Saturday afternoon final of the $65,000 West Virginia Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association Keystone Championship at Wheeling Island.

The Tri-State Greyhound Park star posted a pair of victories and a second by a length in his three qualifying round races to accumulate a leading 40 points. Going into the early rounds, Trudeaux was one of the favorites to capture the 3/8 stakes.

Equally successful at both the 5/16th and 3/8th distances, Mac’s Trudeaux is among the win leaders this year at Tri-State with 22 wins in 42 races. In late January 2019, he won the WatchandWager Naples 550 Stakes in Florida – catching the front-running Konomi with a powerful stretch move.

Completing the WVGOBA Keystone Championship final field are RS’s Buckeyebuck (Lester Raines Kennel), 35 points; Mac’s Murdoch (A Ray Kennel), 32 points; CET Earthquake (Steve Sarras Kennel), and CET Hellen Ann (Steve Sarras Kennel), 27 points each; CET Sassy (Steve Sarras Kennel) and RS’s Hammerdown (Patriot/Taplin Kennel), 25 points each; and MO’s Live Oak (Abrahamson Kennel), 22 points.

Post positions from the rail out for the final follow: 1—Mac’s Trudeaux, 2—RS’s Hammerdown, 3—Mac’s Murdoch, 4—MO’s Live Oak, 5—RS’s Buckeyebuck, 6—CET Hellen Ann, 7—CET Sassy, 8—CET Earthquake.

The final is Race 15 on the Saturday matinee card.

Following are capsule looks at the finalists:

1—MAC’S TRUDEAUX (A Ray Kennel, trainer Joe Palmer) – two wins and a close second in the qualifiers; multidimensional – can go to the front or come from behind; draws a favorable rail post position.

2—RS’S HAMMERDOWN (Patriot/Taplin Kennel, trainer Joe Otto) – had two seconds and a fourth in the qualifiers; displayed big closing efforts in last two trips; more of a frontrunner earlier in career in 3/8th.

3—MAC’S MURDOCH (A Ray Kennel, trainer Joe Palmer) – two wins and sixth in the qualifying round races; should benefit from the inside post position but needs to be close to the lead early in the race.

4—MO’S LIVE OAK (Abrahamson Kennel, trainer Tom Engle) – a win, a fourth and a sixth in the preliminary races; had a box-to-wire victory in round one from a rail post; needs to break sharp from middle box.

5—RS’S BUCKEYEBUCK (Lester Raines Kennel, trainer Joel Roden) – a win and two seconds in the qualifying rounds; has the box speed and power rush to be on or near the lead at the escape turn.

6—CET HELLEN ANN (Steve Sarras Kennel, trainer Barb Long) – a win, a second and a sixth in the early round starts; has some finishing speed; may be tough to get close enough from the outer post.

7—CET SASSY (Steve Sarras Kennel, trainer Barb Long) – had a win, a third and a fifth in the preliminary round races; will need to have a clean early trip and find a lane to drive down the homestretch.

8—CET EARTHQUAKE (Steve Sarras Kennel, trainer Barb Long) – a win, a third and a fourth in the qualifying rounds; has enough early speed to get around close and find a spot on the bottom of tickets.

RACE ANALYSIS: Mac’s Trudeaux was my choice before the stakes and no reason to change now.

The Tri-State invader came within 1 length of winning all three of his qualifying round races and draws a favorable rail post position in the final. If Mac’s Trudeaux breaks and goes to the front early like in the semifinals, race over.

If close early, Mac’s Trudeaux packs plenty of power and finishing speed.

A few greyhounds could challenge for the early lead – RS’s Buckeyebuck, littermate RS’s Hammerdown, Mac’s Murdoch and CET Earthquake.

When all is said and done, Mac’s Trudeaux is the greyhound to beat.

Let’s go with $1 trifecta, 1-5-all, 1-all-5 and 1 over 2, 3, 6, 8. For superfecta players, maybe a 1/5/2368/2368 and 1/2/3568/3568.

The WVGOBA Keystone Championship is alternated each year between Wheeling Island and Tri-State Greyhound Park.

In the 2017 West Virginia-bred Keystone Championship, A Ray Kennel’s Mac’s Finn broke sharp, outrushed the early inside speed and never looked back in posting a 5-length victory in 38.03. Hit Me Chief (Steve Sarras) took runner up honors while Bo Bo Bruiser (Steve Sarras) and GF Taras Tango (Patriot/Taplin) finished in a dead heat for third.

In 2015, A Ray Kennel’s Mac’s Bonita took command early in romping to a 6 ½-length victory. Rico’s Manofsin (Rico Racing Kennel) and GLS Wild Thyme (Jacobs Racing Kennel) rounded out the trifecta ticket while Take Off Tug (Steve Sarras Kennel) finished fourth.

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.