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Monday, December 21, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Hi Noon Recoil of Nova kennel clocked the fastest time in the Grand Finale Derby opening round on Saturday at Derby Lane.

One of 32 greyhounds entered in the new 550-yard stakes, Hi Noon Recoil won his race by 2-1/2 lengths in 30.52 seconds - the best time among 221 greyhounds who competed in 28 races on the sprint course throughout the matinee and evening performances.

Hi Noon Recoil, a 33-month-old son from a litter by SH Avatar and Hi Noon Wheezy, was among four first-round winners to advance to the next round on Wednesday’s matinee card. It was the 25th lifetime victory from 62 starts for the Missy Kubitz trainee. Hi Noon Recoil, owned by Charles Haliburton III, is making his Derby Lane stakes debut. He paid $6.80 as the second wagering favorite.

Floyd kennel’s Kaias Martin recorded a box-to-wire five-length win in his qualifier, clocking a time of 30.58 seconds. He returned $5.40 as the race betting choice.

Other first-round winners required photo finish results. Lester Raines kennel’s SB Fine Lines won by a neck in 30.82 seconds, paying $11.40 as the second wagering choice. Ventilator of Everett Racing kennel prevailed by a nose in 30.71 seconds. She returned $10.40 as the fourth betting pick.

The top four finishers in each race comprise the 16-dog, two-race field on Wednesday. The top four finishers from those races move on to the championship race in a rare Sunday matinee performance, with each one receiving shares of a purse structure which totals a combined payout of $30,000.

LK’s Crush N It of Lashmet kennel was not one of those to advance. The 2019 All-America first-team member finished seventh in his qualifier, seven lengths behind Fine SB Lines. LK’s Crush N It, a five-time stakes winner, has 92 career victories from 152 starts.

LK’s Santorini, another Lashmet athlete who has locked up her first meet win title, did move on with a third-place showing in the race won by Hi Noon Recoil. She has 67 lifetime victories from 146 outings.

Seven performances remain in the July-to-December meet, and Watson Racing continues to lead the kennel standings with 252 victories. The operation maintained its advantage with a 10-win effort in the past week.

Everett Racing, a three-time kennel champion, picked up some ground with 12 victories, and trails Watson Racing by five wins. Reigning kennel champion Lester Raines put itself in contention to repeat with a phenomenal 20-win week over seven performances. Highlighted by six wins apiece on the Friday matinee and Saturday evening cards, Lester Raines raised its victory total to 246 – good for third place. Capabal kennel ranks fourth in the win race with 233, and Abernathy is fifth at 221.

The only other operation to total double-digit wins in the previous week was Cal Holland kennel with 12.

Don Jensen

I have been a sports writer in the newspaper industry for 40 years: working in Florida, Maryland and Virginia. I moved to Florida in 1984 after serving as the publicity director of Charles Town Race Track, a thoroughbred facility in West Virginia. I reside in Tampa, Fla., and cover the Tampa Bay area parimutuel scene – both greyhounds and thoroughbreds – and write about high school sports for the Tampa Bay Times.