Just 3 races left in qualifying in the 2013 Orange Par Derby, and after tonight we will know just who are the 8 finalist that will be headed into the finals on Saturday evening.
Loads of talent line this final qualifying fields, but the 11th race on the card has to be the toughest of the bunch. It could be considered a stakes final at many places, but it only counts here for final jockeying position come Saturday evening. Races 7 and 9 both have their share of talent and if the right greyhounds win, they might just steal away a spot in the final round.
So let’s jump right in and take a closer look at these three great stakes events.
Race 7 should be another safe win for Safe At Home. After a ton of trouble in round 1, where he finished last, Safe At Home has been breaking well and dominating on the front end. With back to back wins he has shows just what he can do, and with the 1 box in this race, I think the trend is going to continue in this effort. No one is going to beat him out of the starting box tonight and that is going to make him hard to beat in this effort. Desperation fuels the fire and that is just what Kiowa Leap has going in her favor. She bombed out fast in round 1 and easily smoked the competition, but since has found some tough posts and some rough trips around the oval. This monster closer finally gets back inside and that post position could get her back into contention in this effort. If she gets around close early, she is going to make this race very interesting at the finish line. Gs Hilda has been a solid chaser in all 3 rounds of the stakes and has won once and not missed the money in her other two attempts. Breaking well will be the key to her success in this effort, so look for her doing what she does best over the route, contenting from box to wire. Pat C First Time is a hot and cold running greyhound that can win at this level, or run out of the money. She has done both so far in the stakes and frankly, you never know just what you are going to get. Helping her out is a good inside post position and if she hit the lid tonight, she could be in the mix all the way to the finish line. (1-3-6-2)
Redemption time in the 9th race as Slick is looking to get back winning and find a way into the finally on Saturday evening. He is so much better than his last could of efforts and needs to show up and put his money where his mouth is. After winning round 1 with ease, he has not broke well and found trouble in back to back races. He needs to come out running and have a solid trip around the oval. Champions show up when they have too, Slick has shown he has the heart of a champion, and this race is his too loose. Making the leader work will be Gavotte. Back over his best distance, Gavotte has been thriving in the stakes and even though he has not been winning, he has been a threat throughout in all three of his efforts. Tonight he draws her best box here in the 8 and will need an exceptional trip to upset in this race. He has all the skills to get it done, just like he did beating Gs Cosmo 6 races back, so it’s time to step up and show them what he has. Kk Swiftblade is a strong breaker that has taken well to the 660 yard course here in the stakes rounds. For a greyhound that had never run 660 before, and looked lackluster in his warm-up race, Swiftblade has been a pleasant surprise for the Lester Raines Kennel in the rounds. In each he has come out close and has posted up a win, a place, and a show in his three trips. He will break strongly again, he will push the pace throughout again, and he will be short in the stretch again, and have to settle for a spot somewhere in the money again at the finish line. Gs Tegan is the almost forgotten about greyhound in this field, but the early speeders better not overlook her in this effort. She is the best closer in the bunch and needs all of those 16 points of she stands any chance at making it to the finals. She has not missed the money in any of the rounds, or for her last 6 trips for that matter, and there is no one here that can come with her in the deep stretch. The critical part of this race for her is going to be the break. If she can stay within striking distance early on, no one will be her equal headed for the finish line. (5-8-4-6)
Race 11 might just be the hardest semi-final race I have seen in my tenure at the Orange Park Kennel Club. Loads of talent here as 7 of the 8 greyhounds in this race have won at least one round of this stakes, and the other has not missed the money in 3 straight trips. However you look at it though, Gs Cosmo has to be the one to beat! So far in the stakes he has not only been winning, he has been destroying fields of greyhounds and remains as the only undefeated one in the bunch. He has put up some blistering times too as his last clocking, 37.10 seconds, is the 2nd fastest that I have ever seen over the 660 yard course. Only one greyhound has been quicker in my tenure and that was 770 track record holder Gil’s Cuero who posted up a 37.06 time almost 6 years ago. Cosmo is the real deal and is already a finalist no matter what happens on this effort. If he breaks like he has been, the race here is for place. Trying to get into Cosmos head could be the back to back winning Gett It Going. This greyhound has been on fire as of late with 4 wins in 6 trips and 6 straight quiniela finishes. In this stakes she has only lost to Cosmo, and that was by a slim margin of under 2 lengths. She can hang with the big boy and from an advantageous post position, she might just be planning revenge in this effort. Pat C Abash has taken well to the route and has really shown that she can handle the added distance with ease. She has not missed the quiniela so far over 660, and that includes a strong win in her last effort. She likes these inside posts, but if she wants to hang with the big boys and girls, she is going to have to come out running early on in this effort. The other greyhound not to forget about in this race is Gs Grace. I know the post is not the best, but look in the 1st round where she posted up a superior time of 37.43 seconds on her way to a 3 length victory. Forget the trouble ridden race in round two and focus on her rebound last time out where she missed another win by a nose. She has the early speed needed to get the lead in this race and that is the only way she will have to chance to hang in contention to the wire. She will be short late and winning is a stretch, but finishing in the money could be right in her wheelhouse in this effort. (4-1-2-5)
The post positions will be drawn for this final on Wednesday January 30th at bestbet Orange Park Kennel Club. The finals will run in the 11th race on the card on Saturday evening, February 2nd, in conjunction with our Island Derby Promotion! Mystery Vouchers, food and beverage specials, second chance drawings, and 2 free 4 day cruises to be given away after the running of the 2013 Orange Park Derby. Make your plays and we will see you there Saturday evening!