Friday, February 17, 2012

World Classic Preview

United Greyhound Racing 2012 Mardi Gras World Classic Stakes Final Preview...
By: Clint Locklear

The 2012 edition of the World Classic will be run Friday, February 17th at Mardi Gras Casino & Racetrack in Hallandale Beach, Fl. A prestigious race since inception, previous winners include some of the greatest names associated with greyhound racing:  Downing, Wigwam Hoss, Bomb Threat, Kiowa Shawnee So, Kiowa Sweet Trey, Ea's Itzaboy, and many other fan favorites of the game. Winners of this race have gone on to the Hall of Fame and left their mark on the breed not just in the states, but all across the world. This year's edition should be as memorable as in past years. The big names that entered made the final, making it that much more special. There are also young pups trying to become household names all of which should make for an exciting World Classic.

Here's a profile of each greyhound in order of post position:

1. Who Says I Cant, bd. male
Kennel: D.Q. Williams
Trainer: Carlos Perez
Owner: Alvie Simmons

The quickest breaker in the field and quite possibly one of the fastest to the turn in America. He's been able to ignore the track bias favoring dogs with closing speed with three consecutive victories in qualifying. He's twice defeated the early World Classic favorite Turbo Lennie. A son of the primarily private stud dog of D.Q. and Sharon Williams, Chevita, he's the smallest male in the field at 66 pounds. He'll rely on building a sizeable lead and play "catch me if you can." Luck smiled on this dog and his connections with the drawing of the rail post.
Bottom Line: in great form and dangerous.

2. Turbo Lennie, bk. male
Kennel: Joe Trudden
Trainer: Brad Holomek
Owner: Ed Gardner, Jr.

Lennie has long been thought of as one of America's most talented racers. He's best known for lowering the track record at Southland in 2011, then smashing the record again two months later.  A son of Turbo Penske, he was bred by his owner Ed Gardner, who may have been thinking sweep after the jaw-dropping performance in Round 1, an 11 length romp. Lennie found trouble in Round 2 bouncing off the rail which slowed his performance. He chased Who Says I Can't to a runner up finish in Round 3 before putting it all together for a semi-final win. Lennie is capable of powerful bursts of speed during the race. This dog can strike at any time, but has shown he may need to be close to the front to do so.
Bottom Line: Capable with a good start.

3. M Cee Drive, r. bd. male
Kennel: Joe Trudden
Trainer: Brad Holomek
Owner: Mike Frino and Joe Trudden

This son of Rhythmless has always shown talent (second consecutive stakes competition), but has really shown an affinity for the Mardi Gras track. One of the more consistent dogs, he enters the final off three straight wins following a second in the opening round. Some may argue he benefited from drawing into some favorable races, but he beat nearly all that was thrown at him. M Cee Drive doesn't need the lead to be competitive, but he's been breaking well (a sign of his versatility). He's drawn between two of the most talented in the field, so there's a possibility of being squeezed going into the first turn.
Bottom Line: The Wildcard.

4. Flying Oberon, r. f. male
Kennel: On Line Racing
Trainer: Jennifer Arno
Owner: Terry Scott

The youngest in the field at 22 months, yet one of the most talked about. A son of the up- and-coming sire, Bd's Grayson, Oberon is a product of the powerhouse Flying Eagles Kennel. It may have been love at first sight for Terry Scott, who bought him for $20,000 at 2011 NGA Fall Auction. Since hitting the track, Oberon has given no reason to question his expensive purchase price. He's already won a stakes event, the Hollywood Futurity. He's also recorded the fastest Mardi Gras time of all eight finalists, 29.93. Oberon has a world of potential, but he has the least experience with only 16 races while drawing into the most unfavorable box. When he drew into the 5 hole in Round 2, he was a never threatening sixth. It was his only blemish in qualifying.
Bottom Line: Most likely will need a little luck and if gets it he could put on a show.

5. Shakes the Clown, r. male
Kennel: Brindle
Trainer: Jorge Esquival
Owner: Eugene Otton

The biggest surprise, Shakes was an unknown entering the World Classic.  This precocious pup (he just turned two last month) slipped into the Final with just enough points posting a win, second, third, and a forth. Shakes the Clown shipped in from Naples, but got his start at the small market venue of Ebro Greyhound Park. There he made the final of the Mega Morris Stakes finishing third. Shakes has a closing style that benefits from a clear run. The son of All-American Burt Road may be in over his head, but Shakes is still young with a possibility of further improvement. He'll need his best along with racing luck.
Bottom Line: Would be a shocker.

6. Mo's Real McCoy, w. bk. male
Kennel: Gulf & Bay
Trainer: Joseph Rumore
Owner: Howard Mosier

Like, Shakes the Clown, this one also barely got in. The lone representative of West Virginia racing, McCoy showed promise at Wheeling before making the trip south, but was never considered a top dog while there. McCoy doesn't have the early foot as some of the others, but he will still need to be in early contention to have a shot. He's a son Fuzzys Cannon, a star of the former Tampa Bay racing circuit. McCoy comes from sire line that produces toughness, a trait he showed in the semi finals by taking a bump in the first turn, yet managed a second to ensure his spot in the final.
Bottom Line: Would be an even bigger shocker.

7. Maria Mandalena, bd. female
Kennel: J.E. O'Donnell
Trainer: Dennis Smith
Owner: Pauline O'Donnell

Maria has virtually become a star overnight with her explosive turn of foot. Before making her way south from Derby Lane, her claim to fame was being a littermate to Money Maid (the star of last fall's NGA Meet). Although she showed flashes of brilliance, she was never consistently tough at Derby Lane. This could be attributed to her inexperience and closing style. Bred in Canada by Doug and Lisa Riches, the young sweetheart turned two on Valentine's Day. Not only is she the only female to make this year's final, she's the smallest at 61 pounds. Her daddy, Kiowa Myth was also a trendsetter. Myth was so highly thought of he was sent to Ireland to compete in the 2009 Irish Derby.  Maria clocked the fastest time in qualifying when she ran a 30.05 in Round 2. She had severe trouble Round 1, but enters the Final off two wins and a second. She'll appreciate this post and should have every chance to do well for her owner Pauline O'Donnell, the first lady of racing.
Bottom Line: The biggest closing threat with a box that suits her style. Dangerous but others seem more logical.

8. Ls Lafave, r. f. male
Kennel: Joe Trudden
Trainer: Brad Holomek
Owner: Ronald Butkis

Nicknamed the Fabulous Lafave by Mardi Gras followers, he's a fan favorite for his uncanny consistency. He's missed the paysheet during this season only once when he stumbled in the first turn during round 1 of the World Classic. Lafave is the oldest finalist at two months shy of his 4th birthday. A vet of the Dubuque/Mardi Gras circuit, he competed in this event last year but failed to make the Final.
Bottom Line: Not a total reach, but his two qualifying wins were two of the slowest winning times.

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