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Thursday, July 22, 2021

Superstar sprinter, money earner, and stud, SH Avatar, was the lone nominee to receive enough votes for induction into the 2021 class of the Greyhound Hall of Fame.

SH Avatar was whelped May 13, 2010, and is owned by Tom Sugihara Jr. and Robert Hardison. He was whelped and raised on Hardison's farm in Iowa and later moved to Tom Sugihara's farm in Colorado to finish out his training. He is out of Kiowa Mon Manny-Tom S Caterwaul and is recognized mostly for being the highest money-winning greyhound in the history of the sport in North America. It is very unlikely that his record of $740,328 in earnings (which does not include his supplemental Iowa-bred award monies) will ever be eclipsed. That feat alone would validate his enshrinement, but there is much more to Avatar than just the money.

Avatar began his career in 2012, breaking in at Melbourne, where he notched a near-perfect 10-1-0 record in 11 starts. Two of those victories were in track record times. From there, it was time to "move up" and head to Bluffs Run where he would finish out his career competing for the Hardison Kennel. He would capture the 2012 $500,000 Iowa Breeders Classic and his year end record at the Bluffs would be 24-7-5-5 in 49 starts. Extra honors included being named Greyhound Of The Year at Bluffs, as well as earning a spot on the 2012 All-America team.

2013 would prove to be an even better year. He finished third in the $60,000 Bluffs Run Open, third in the $60,000 Secretary’s Choice, and once again captured the $500,000 Iowa Breeders Classic. He was track champion at Bluffs with a record of 33-7-9-2 in 55 starts. He became the first and only greyhound to repeat outright as Greyhound Of The Year at Bluffs—this time by a unanimous vote (the only greyhound in Bluffs history to do so). He was also named to his second All-America team.

Avatar retired late in 2013 after suffering a shoulder injury with a career record of 115- 67-15-14-7. He managed to hit the pay sheet in an incredible 89% of his starts and won nearly 60% of all his races. Taking into account his career earnings record, every time Avatar broke from a starting box, his average paycheck-per-start was $6,491! Probably another industry record.

While his stellar racing career and purse earnings are the primary reasons Avatar was submitted for selection, his sire career makes his nomination all the more impressive. Avatar has produced many outstanding offspring—so many, in fact, that he captured the 2020 Sire Standings Championship. And he did it by his offspring garnering nearly twice as many wins as his second place rival (which was last year’s inductee Djays Octane). He is currently on top of the 2021 standings as well.

These days, Avatar is living the life of a king—on the retirement couch of his former trainer Darren Flahive in Shawnee, KS.

Congratulations to Bob, Tom and everyone involved with SH Avatar on this great honor!

 Jim Gartland is the Executive Director for the NGA and serves as the Secretary Treasurer to the Board.