Pure Sensation – (59 Points)
OP Career Totals (8/7-0-0-0)
R F – M September 2015 Djays Octane – Heavenly Bale
Owned By – Raines or Craigie Inc
Runs for the Lester Raines Kennel
Trained by Michael Gerard
I don’t really know what to say about the point leader, except that Pure Sensation is breaking all the rules. No greyhound here, that I can remember, has ever entered a stake race in just his fifth official start. No greyhound has ever become the point leader for the stakes in just their 8th official race, and no greyhound has ever looked like he is clearly the one to beat in the final after winning 7 of his 8 career races. The NEW Sensation at bestbet Jacksonville, Pure Sensation is obviously competing in his first ever stakes event and comes out as the one on top heading into the finals. Winning 3 of the 4 rounds, he has shown talent beyond his years and has found a way to win race with or without the early lead. No wavering for this pup, he knows how to flat out fly, and that was never more on display than in his first-round race. His first race in grade A, he broke close, stalked early, took over down the backside, and raced away from the field for the 10-length victory in 30.57 seconds. PURE dominance is what he showed in that race, and trust me when I say, there is going to me more of that to come. He can run from anywhere it looks like, but those midtrack to wide posts seem to be calling his name. Post really doesn’t matter that much as long as he can get out close and find room to rush hard to the turn. This Lester Raines pup doesn’t have to be in the early lead to win this final round race, he just has to be in the conversation at the turn. He has gears to burn late and will be doing whatever he can to throw his hat into the ring for yet another chance at a win in his young career. One of the best greyhounds at Jacksonville, and one of the best puppies in the country, Pure Sensation could be poised to make his presence known on the National Scene come Saturday evening with a stakes win!
Real Good Feelin – (53 Points)
OP Career Totals (119/59-18-12-11)
W R – F August 2013 Tmc’s Remedy – Need A Date
Owned By – Tina Williams
Runs for the DQ Williams Kennel
Trained by Craig Edwards
Track record holder Real Good Feelin was running well, as always, in the rounds of the 2017 bestbet Sprint Classic where she won twice and never finished out of the money in any effort. This big-time closer from DQ has the most experience of any greyhound in this race and has made it to the finals in 5 of her last 6 starts events that she has competed in. Granted the finals have not been kind to her, she finished out of the money in her last two major stakes finals, but is looking to get off the snide come Saturday evening at bestbet Jacksonville. All you had to do was watch her Semi-Final race and you know that she is going to be a force in this final. Breaking from her beloved 8 box, she was out close and around the leader as they rounded the first turn. Down the backside she really turned on the juice and took a breezing lead to the far turn. Turning for home she put the peal to the metal and coasted to the wire for the easy victory in 30.63 seconds, which happened to be the fastest win on the card. Outside is where this little girl wants to start from and that is easy to see in her lines. In her last 20 starts from the 7 or 8 boxes, she has won 15 times, been in the quiniela in 19 efforts, and has not finished out of the trifecta once. Also included in those numbers was her 29.95 second track record from the 7 box. If she can get out close early, find room to use her raw speed, she could prove unstoppable in this stakes final.
Hey Hey Daddy – (49 Points)
OP Career Totals (95/42-16-8-5)
Bk – F August 2013 Tmc’s Remedy – Need A Date
Owned By – Tina Williams
Runs for the DQ Williams Kennel
Trained by Craig Edwards
Hey Hey Daddy is the sister to Real Good Feelin, and even though she finished below her in qualifying, there is no drop off in talent. Hey Hey Daddy gets more bragging rights anyways as she won this race a year ago. Yep, the 2016 champion is back, and with the way she ran through qualifying, she is not ready to be put out to pasture just yet. Winning in round 1, finishing in the quiniela 2 more times, and finding the final spot in the superfecta in the other after trouble, Hey Hey Daddy is ready to challenge once again on Saturday evening. Competing in his 4th stakes for DQ, this will only be her second final round race, and in the other one, she came out the winner. Breaking and holding strong, or drawing away, is how she wins most of her races and that is just what she did in the first round of action. Coming out well, she seized command of the run to the turn and took over the lead early on. Driving down the backside, she increased her lead to the far turn and maintained it all the way to the wire for a big margin of victory. Consistent as the day is long, Daddy currently has been in the money in 22 of her last 24 starts, including 14 wins. Post could aide her in this effort, especially from the midtrack to wide starting boxes. She has proven that she can win from anywhere, and when she breaks, she is a tough out for anyone at the racetrack. It takes a special effort to get to her on the lead, and it has only happened 3 times in her Jacksonville career. Does she have what it takes to win this race in back to back years? We will soon find out!
GS Humongous – (45 Points)
OP Career Totals (60/14-10-5-10)
Bd – M May 2014 Pat C Game Face – Gs Ashlynn
Owned By – Gary or Sharon Willis
Runs for the Willis Kennel
Trained by Tony Duran
Talk about coming into your own at the right time, that is just what Gs Humongous has done. This strong breaking greyhound is a threat on the front end, when he can get there, and he accomplished that task twice in the 4 rounds of the stakes. Crossing first in a box to wire romp, and winning another by a nose from just off the pace, he parlayed that 38 points with a 4th and 7th place finish into the top 4 in qualifying. Clearly his best race came in round 3 as he broke close, outrushed everyone to the early lead and drew away late for a comfortable win at the finish line. Competing in his 3rd stakes for the Willis Kennel, Humongous will get his first chance at stakes final competition come Saturday evening. Against this talented field, there is just one thing that Gs Humongous needs to do… BREAK! Post position might be important, if he were to stay in the box for a while, but if he wants a chance to score a win, he needs to get his nose in front early on. In 13 occasions where he has held the lead at the far turn, he has gone on to win on 11 of those trips. He has only been caught twice from behind, and that could be a good omen for him here. If he were to choose a starting post, I would assume that it would be somewhere on the edges, with a preference to the outside boxes. If he finds a Humongous break tonight, he too has a shot the win come the finish line.
Watch Me – (44 Points)
OP Career Totals (122/12-4-6-3)
R Bd – M June 2014 Flying Coal City – Barts Anxious
Owned By – Kate Bartley
Runs for the Jim Blanchard Kennel
Trained by Traci Chase
Another stakes race, another final for Watch Me. Sure, he might have only been here a short time, but Watch Me has taken to the racetrack and was just a nose short of a stakes win last time out in the finals of the 20127 Battle of The Sexes. Here it looked like more of the same as he won the first two rounds of qualifying and used those points to coast his way into the finals. When he needed it, he found that mojo again, and that could prove to be good for him again here. Clearly breaking is his best attribute, and he showed everyone just what he could do in the open air in round number two. Hitting the lid, he grabbed the front end almost immediately and never looked back. Pushing the pace to the turn, he stole away enough lengths early, to hold on late for the easy victory, in a speedy time of 30.56, at the wire. The rail is where Watch me wants to be and if he could get the pick of the century, he would request the inside boxes at the post-position draw. Really though, he is all about breaking when he wins, so getting out of the starting box is way more important than where he starts from. If this Blanchard star can break fast, post will not matter at all in this stakes final. Redemption is on his mind, tonight he just needs to be a nose better to get it done.
Ww Mind At Rest – (42 Points)
OP Career Totals (19/6-6-1-1)
Bk – F March 2015 Pat C Clement – Ww’s Death Row
Owned By – Julia Ward
Runs for the Wayne Ward Kennel
Trained by Kelly Rowell
Ww Mind At Rest is also competing in her second straight stakes final as she was also in the elite 8 in the 2017 edition of the Battle of The Sexes race. So this will be her second stakes final in 2 tries for the Wayne Ward kennel and this time out she hopes to finish better than 3rd. She looked stellar in the first two round of the stakes as she took home back to back near box to wire wins, including one in the best time on the card, but missed her break and found trouble in the remaining two rounds as she finished out of the money. Looking for that mojo? She just needs to watch the replay of her 2nd round race. There she burst out of the box and quickly took over the race. Getting to the front end as they raced for the turn, she put 2.5 lengths between her and the rest as she headed up the backside. She was not done yet though as she increased the lead by a length at the far turn, and by another at the finish line. With 4.5 lengths clear, her 30.38 second clocking was the fastest of all the times in all 4 of the rounds. Like several other greyhounds in this race, breaking well seems to be what motivates her to running well. When she is not close early on she is not the same greyhound as she is in the open air up front. A good starting box could help her out here. The edges would be a good place to start from for this rail runner. There she can get room to rush and find a way to get her nose it front. If she wants a chance against this talented field, she needs to take a page from several other greyhounds in this race, and HIT THE LID!
Lk’s Freestar – (41 Points)
OP Career Totals (92/16-12-20-13)
R – F November 2014 B’s O’Grady – Lk’s Danika
Owned By – Jill Lashmet
Runs for the Ocala Kennel
Trained by Antonette Gerard
Lk’s Freestar was following the trend of several other greyhounds in this race. Running the best in her career and making the most of the early rounds, she rode a win, a place, a show, and a 7th place finish into this final round field. This early speeder from the Ocala Kennel, is competing in her second ever stakes race and made it all the way to the finals this time around. Easily her best effort came in round number two where she exploded to the lead from the starting box. With the entire field hot on her heels, she dug in deep for the duration and turned back all challengers from the slim win at the finish line. Like several others here, she needs to break well to have a chance at all in this stakes final. She might have the less late speed of anyone here, so getting a quick start will be extra important for her on Saturday evening. As for posts, she could start from a few different ones and still get the job done. She likes the edges most, it seems to provide her with room, and that is just want needs to happen in this race tonight. She has the speed and skills set to make the lead in this race, not doubt about it, but the question that remains is… Can she hold off the late comers if she does find room up front? First things first. She must get out of the box in a hurry or the rest of it will just be a moot point.
Mrl Bold Ego – (41 Points)
Career Totals (18/4-3-2-4)
Bk – M October 2015 Js Im Seein Red – Mrl Booby Trap
Owned By – Mrl Metals, LLC
Runs for the Double J Kennel
Trained by Chris Maynard
Finally, is the MRL Bold Ego. Another true puppy in the finals, he has just 18 career starts and gave a bit of an opposite run into the last spot in the finals. Starting out slowly, with a tough 7th place finish, he improved in each start. Round 2 we saw a 3rd place effort, followed up by a strong 2nd place finish in round number 3. In the finals, he needed to win just to have a chance and that is exactly what he did. Not only did he win he did something that has only been done a couple of times ever at bestbet Jacksonville. He caught Hey Hey Daddy on the lead! Breaking in the middle of the pack, he found room through the first turn and drove hard after the leaders up the backside. By the far turn he was stalking the front pair as Daddy went by Watch Me to take control. In the final few strides, he put on a show, and drove past for the victory. This race will be the first stakes final for the Double J star pup, and he gets there in his first attempt at stakes racing competition. Late speed is what separates him from several of his counterparts in this race. Breaking is not really his forte, but he can come from off the pace to challenge. With all the early speed up front here, he might just get room to run behind them, and it could help him surprise once again on Saturday evening. Inside looks like the place he would like to start from, but he has looked well from the outside on occasion too. Clearly the underdog in this race, Bold Ego might just need the best effort of his career if he is going to pull off the upset. Don’t count him out, he needed a win to get here, and got that done, tonight might just be another gem.