Grey2k, the American Greyhound Derby, Inputs and Feedbacks...
by Dennis McKeon
It was very gratifying to see that Mardi Gras and BigJackpotBetting have teamed up to bring back the American Greyhound Derby. The elimination rounds began on March 12. The American Derby itself, began in 1949, at Taunton Dog Track in Massachusetts. It was the brainchild of Joseph M. Linsey, the owner of the charming, quaint, little country track in Taunton. It was the first “big money” stakes race for Greyhounds in the US, offering the then unthinkable total purse of $25,000. Naturally, the race attracted the best Greyhounds from across the country, and sometimes from across the Atlantic. Fitting, because it was the ceremony, pomp and circumstance of the Irish Derby that inspired Mr. Linsey to create an American counterpart.
No other racing event has had such a profound effect on the molding of the American Racing Greyhound. There is scarcely a pedigree today that doesn’t contain at least one, and more often than not, several bloodlines which end up at an American Derby winner, or one of their siblings. Many of those who competed in the American Derby, but who didn’t win the final, nevertheless have also had a huge impact upon the breed.
American Derby winners like Lucky Bannon, SS Jeno, Downing and Dutch Bahama are among the most influential sires of all time. The female families of American Derby winners like Real Huntsman, Mellojean, Feldcrest, Xandra, and LG’s Ada have exerted tremendous influence, which continues to this day. The descendents of American Derby competitors like Crocadoll, Mar Dilly, Features Fair, Michigan Jack, Slick Shan, Flirty Go, and Unruly, are numerous and prolific. The American Derby was a breed shaper, unlike any other.
When you simplify the subject of competitive racing and selective breeding for function, it all boils down to two things—“inputs” and “feedbacks”. The American Derby input the potential for anyone to win a huge purse and the enormous prestige of the American Derby Trophy, and to have their greyhound’s name listed among the roll call of immortals. Breeders and owners “fed back” by entering their best racers, from whatever track they were running, anywhere in the country. The results of this highest level competition provided the additional feedback as to who were the most forwardly adapted individual greyhounds and families, and who breeders might then “select” to produce the next generation(s) of racers. Feedback from the American Derby proved to be especially reliable.
Holistically, “inputs” are a matter of function. We need inputs to maintain the high degree of functionality and the unique character that Greyhounds have always possessed. “Feedbacks” are employed to assist selectivity. The inputs of the Racing Greyhound are race-breeding and raising, the protocols of race-training and handling, and the racing competition itself. The feedbacks are the results of competitions among unequals, both human and canine. Competition at the highest levels allows comparative, objective quantificaton and qualification of the most critical feedbacks, which help in determining, refining and perfecting the protocols of the inputs.
In this era of anti-racing activism and propaganda, it is important to keep in mind that when feedbacks are no longer possible to assess, then the inputs become a matter of fashion and fancy, rather than a matter of improving the actual protocols which produce the feedbacks. Thus, refining the functionality and engendering the adaptation of the breed toward a sounder, more well-adapted, more functional state becomes impossible. Without crucial inputs and objectifiable feedbacks, you are left with a breed that is merely an effigy of what it once was. When the population is allowed to be diminished to a fringe, non-genetically diverse status, and then left to the whims of puppy millers, dog fanciers, or worse, the breed inevitably degenerates. It’s not humane in any sense, nor is it good breed husbandry.
Which brings us from the sublime to the ridiculous, to Grey2k, whose dubious aspirations, if realized, would compel the irreversible degeneration of the Greyhound breed. Even though there would likely still be a small population of Greyhounds, without those critical inputs and feedbacks that have defined the breed we know today, that breed would soon become extinct.
What Grey2k inputs to the public discourse, is their tragic ignorance of greyhounds, dogmatic propaganda and negative stereotyping. The feedbacks, as we know all too well, are financial donations to Grey2k, and hatred, bigotry, culturism and intolerance toward anyone who is involved in Greyhound Racing.
In their disarranged and fallacious scenario, the Greyhound’s inputs are abuse, cruelty, neglect and ruthless exploitation. Yet in the real world, the actual feedbacks are an estimated 200,000 retired Racing Greyhounds making the complete and radical life adjustment from life as racing athletes to life as family pets, to an ever-increasing demand among an ever-increasing audience of breed enthusiasts for more. Hardly the feedback that a population of brutalized or otherwise mistreated dogs would produce.