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Back to Track Talk » Trainers thrilled, proud of All-America honorees
Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Abrahamson Kennel’s CG’s Penny Shoe and Blanchard Kennel’s L’s Luv It, both all-Wheeling selections, are All-Americans.

Recently, the National Greyhound Association announced the 2020 All-American teams with CG’s Penny Shoe earning first team honors while L’s Luv It was named to the second team. Both sprinters were recognized on the 2020 all-Wheeling team earlier this year.

The naming of the All-America teams started in 1963 and pays tribute to the top greyhounds in the country. Historically voted on by members of the American Greyhound Track Operators Association, the award process was turned over to the National Greyhound Association in 2019.

The 2020 All-American first team is dominated by competitors from Southland Greyhound Park – unquestionably the toughest racetrack in the country.

Joining CG’s Penny Shoe on the first team are JS Flamin Ace (Southland), Chillaxification (Southland), World Ruler (Southland), Air Ace (Southland), LK’s Santorini (Derby Lane), Flying Zulu (Southland) and FGF Mathias (Southland).

CG’s Penny Shoe, an October 2017 greyhound out of Jax Oxford-CG’s Marla, had a spectacular year of racing in 2020 in West Virginia. At Tristate Greyhound Park, the sprinter was the track win champion and at Wheeling Island he captured the track’s featured stakes event – the $100,000 Mountaineer Classic Sprint – as well as making the final of the West Virginia Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association Panhandle Sprint Stakes.

Todd Johnson, CG Penny Shoe’s trainer at Tristate, was ecstatic when he heard the sprint star made first team All-American.

“I am tickled to death, so excited, so cool. It’s an honor to train a greyhound like Penny Shoe – it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Johnson said. “I am so proud of him. He’s without a doubt the best greyhound I have ever trained.”

In 34 Grade AA starts at Tristate, CG’s Penny Shoe had 24 wins, 3 seconds and 5 thirds. In one stretch of 22 races, he had 19 wins – 12 in a row – 1 second and 2 thirds.

“Once Penny Shoe gets a clear look at the lure and out on top, the race is over,” Johnson added.

CG’s Penny Shoe came up to Wheeling in late September to compete in the Mountaineer Classic and WVGOBA Sprint. In 12 Wheeling starts, he had 2 wins, 3 seconds and 3 thirds.

His magical moment came in the Mountaineer Classic final where he closed deep in the stretch to catch frontrunner TNT Free Falling to capture Wheeling’s featured stakes event of the year by 1 ½ lengths.

“Nobody expected a West Virginia bred to come up to Wheeling and upset all the great Wheeling greyhounds,” Johnson said.

CG’s Penny Shoe was trained in Wheeling by Tom Engle, who thought the sprinter’s accomplishments deserved consideration for All-America honors.

“I am so proud of Penny Shoe and so happy for his owners, Neil and JC (Abrahamson). Being named All-American is quite an honor,” Engle said. “A lot of the credit for Penny Shoe’s success goes to trainer Todd Johnson in Tristate.”

Johnson was quick to spread the credit.

“A lot of people had a hand in Penny Shoe’s success – from Jack Stolirchick who raised him the first year in West Virginia, Howard Mosier who finished his training in Florida and trainer Tom Engle in Wheeling,” Johnson said.

CG’s Penny She is the second All-American the Abrahamsons have owned. The first was DD’s Nelson in 1987 – arguably the best greyhound to ever race at Wheeling. “We are so excited and so proud of what Penny Shoe achieved last year. It was an exciting year,” Neil Abrahamson said. “It’s a great honor to own a greyhound named an All-American – our first since DD’s Nelson.”

Joining L’s Luv It on the 2020 All-American second team are Rasta (Iowa/Southland), LK’s Crush N It (Derby Lane), Killer Tolstoy (Naples/Iowa/Southland), JD Elegant (Iowa/Southland), Bug Brush (Palm Beach/Southland), FGF Avenger (Southland) and Abbi’s Frontman (Palm Beach).

L’s Luv It, an August 2016 greyhound out of KC And All-L’s Morgan, has been a mainstay in the Blanchard Kennel the last three years. In 2020, the sprinter made the final of the $100,000 Mountaineer Classic Sprint Stakes and was tied for third at the track in victories.

The second team All American recognition came as a surprise to trainer James Blanchard.

“I didn’t expect Luv It to make an All-American team, it came as a surprise,” Blanchard said. “It’s definitely a great honor and I am super proud of her. She’s had a remarkable racing career at Wheeling.”

Last year, L’s Luv It had 14 wins, 9 seconds, 5 thirds and 7 fourths in 44 starts – an 80 percent mark on the superfecta ticket and a 64 percent trifecta finish. She was the first greyhound ever to make the final of the Mountaineer Classic Sprint Stakes and be named all-Wheeling for three straight seasons.

Blanchard had thoughts of retiring the sprint dandy a couple times in 2020, but “each time L’s Luv It got hot. She still had the desire to compete.”

In the Mountaineer Classic, L’s Luv It won three out of her four qualifying round races before experiencing a tough trip in the final.

L’s Luv It was retired after two races in 2021, going out a winner.

“It was special when L’s Luv It retired with a Grade AA win in her last race. That doesn’t happen very often,” Blanchard said. “Besides her talent, she was fortunate to stay healthy most of her career.”

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.