The finals of the 2018 Ironhound Stakes took place on Saturday evening April 14th in the 11th race at bestbet Jacksonville. To say that it was an upset, might just be sugarcoating it a bit. I don’t know if anyone expected the outcome, the with this win, this litter of greyhounds put up their third stakes title over three different distances here at bestbet Jacksonville, and the Blanchard Kennel won this stakes final for the second year in a row.
Heading to post, the favorites had to be the two greyhounds that have won top level 770 races in recent memory. Both Pat C Bona and Pj Wigglengiggle looked the part, but they would not be the ones crossing the finish line first on this occasion. When the box opened, everyone was surprised.
As the lure round the turn and the 770-box popped, it was Saylor Lee hitting the lid and seizing control of this race from her very first step out of the starting box. Saylor Lee was unabated to the front end and she led the pack down the backside toward the turn. Rushing right along in early contention was Royal Clarion and Cm’s Grayson. By the turn the lead duo were just a head apart, and that’s when the rest of the field got a reality check. Cm’s Grayson was clipped and bumped from behind by Coco Hally Ann and that allowed the lead pack to draw away and for traffic to be created for the rest of the field. As the rounded the turn and moved up the frontside for the first time. It was really a two-greyhound race. Saylor Lee was a length better than Royal Clarion, but both were 8 lengths clear of the rest of the field. Looking for room and trying to rally, the race favorites dug in deep. Pat C Bona squeaked by on the rail as Pj Wigglengiggle made room on the outside part of the racetrack. Rounding the turn Saylor Lee moved further ahead, but Royal Clarion was not giving up yet. Both received yet another gift from the chasing pack as Pat C Bona checked the escape turn and nearly stopped ahead of the rest of the field. Lucky for Ph Wigglengiggle as he was wide around the trouble and turned up down the backside with a clean lane in front of him as he started to make a run. By the end of the toteboard, Saylor Lee was in complete control, as the gap between her and Royal Clarion was increasing. They were not in the clear just yet though as Pj Wigglengiggle was flying and making up ground with every step from 7 lengths behind the leader. By the far turn Saylor Lee was breezing, Royal Clarion was fading and Pj Wigglengiggle was closing. By the stretch it was obvious that Saylor Lee was going to come home a winner, the question was by how many lengths at the wire. Finally, Royal Clarion was overtaken as Pj WigglenGiggle set her sights on the leader as they approached the finish line. No matter the effort, she was just too far behind to make up the stagger and had to settle for a distance place, after a tremendous late driving effort. Early threat, Royal Clarion, settled for show as Pat C Hell Bent completed the superfecta. Rounding out the race was Coco Hally Ann in 5th, Pat C Bona in 6th, Drama Free in 7th, and Cm’s Grayson in 8th.
Congratulation head out to the Blanchard Kennel, trainer Mark Blair, owner Kate Bartley, and everyone else connected with this fantastic greyhound. Yet another stakes winner for this litter, as Fix A Drink won the Holiday Stakes Championship, and Drink It Off won the 2018 Orange Park Derby. Both brothers made the finals of the $75,000 James J Patton Silver Cup where Fix A Drink finished 3rd and Drink It Off finished 4th. Saylor Lee makes it three for three over three different distances for this litter, and she holds up the banner again for the Blanchard Kennel as they won this race last year with Boc’s Queen Lady. A true test of her talents, Saylor Lee never finished out of the quiniela in qualifying, three 2nd place efforts over 330, 550, and 660 yards, and now got it done on the lead over 770. Big things ahead for her as she continues her quest here at bestbet Jacksonville.