by TrackData Systems Staff Writers
TalentedMrRipleyIn the span of a week the nation's sports fans saw the San Francisco Giants win their first world series of baseball since moving to the west coast. They also so the mare Zenyatta loose her first race. For us in the greyhound industry we had the passing of TalentedMrRipley a Greyhound Hall of Famer.
To say that all of these events were emotional for their particular fans is an understatement. Being a second generation San Franciscan you can only imagine how I feel – especially knowing that this may be the only time in my lifetime I may experience this accomplishment ( although us Giants diehards are always optimistic!)
In the same regard I have worked in the greyhound industry for 25 years – and my emotions have been equaled while researching and now writing about the greyhound Hall of Famer - TalentedMrRipley.
A little history – courtesy of the Greyhound Hall of Fame
Out of Greys Statesman and Oneco Malee, Talentedmrripley was whelped on Oct. 2, 1999. He made his maiden debut on May 21, 2001 at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg, Fl., winning the race by 8 lengths. It was the beginning of things to come; he ended his career with a record of 65/7-3-2-2 in79 starts, never finishing lower than fifth place.
“Blessed with speed, intelligence, and charisma, he dominated the racing scene over both distances and captured the hearts of the general public,” wrote Bryan Kates in the Greyhound’s nomination letter.
Owned and raced by Francesca Field and Donna Moore, Talentedmrripley won the prestigious Rural Rube Award in 2001 and the Flashy Sir Award in 2002. He was named captain of the All-America Team both years.
In 2001, he was the Tampa track win leader with 29 wins. He also set the 5/16 course record at 30.02 on Aug. 4, and was the Speed Classic champion. From July 4 to Sept. 8, he won 15 of 16 races, and that year held eight of the top 10 fastest sprint times at the track.
That November, he narrowly missed the distance course record of 37.12 set by Barb in 1975 when Talentedmrripley ran the race in 37.13.
In 2002, he was the St. Petersburg win leader with 28 wins. During a 12-win streak, he was the Distance Classic champion on March 20, going undefeated through the rounds leading up to the final. Ripley, as he was affectionately called, set the distance record at 37.17 and the sprint record at 30.15, defeating the closest competitor in that race by 14 lengths. He won the NOS and the Irish Board Feature, and placed second in both the Sprint Classic and the Derby.
Talentedmrripley is the only Greyhound in the history of the Tampa and St. Petersburg circuit to hold both sprint records at the same time, according to Kates.
“As fond as the wagering public was of Ripley, it was the general public that gave him their unconditional love,” Kates wrote. “People actually came from miles around to watch him compete. People just couldn’t seem to get enough of him and he basked in the attention.”
Ripley was featured in newspaper and magazine articles and was the topic of discussion on local radio shows.
“He was a great ambassador for the sport then, and he continues in that role now,” Kates wrote of the greyhound now greeting visitors at the Greyhound Hall of Fame.
After an ankle injury forced his retirement on Aug. 31, 2002, Ripley sired Im Ur Sugardaddy, who was second in the St. Petersburg Derby, and Sure Do Shine, who placed third in the St. Petersburg Distance Classic and fourth in the Derby. Other offspring include Close By, winner of the Phoenix All Distance, Distance Countdown, and NOS; Abita Holly, winner of the St. Petersburg Consolation Derby; Scaldedwildebeas, winner of the Orange Park NOS; and What Do You Need, winner of the Dubuque Maiden Debut.
A link to his pedigree.
Some old videos for the memories – the quality is nothing in comparison to what we have today almost 10 years later but the race calls are among the best I have heard.
March 30th 2002 Distance Classic Final
June 22nd 2002
A true Hall of Famer in any sport – and such kind and considerate owners who understood the effect their animal had on the industry that both they and Ripley loved. They kept their greyhound's needs first and foremost and new that he would be happiest living out the golden days of his retirement basking in his former self, so he became a Greyhound Hall of Fame greeter. He was surrounded daily by his awards while pleasantly greeting museum guests as they came to sneak a peak at a former champion.
We called the Hall of Fame and asked Becky, the museum curator, what was it like spending everyday with such a valued champion? She paused and through a broken voice said “Mr Ripley was the greatest dog that ever lived”. The interview was cut short because of the obvious pain she had over his loss.
We also spoke by phone with Derby Lane's Media Relations Manager, Vera Rasnake whom went on to explain how special Mr Ripley was. How Mr Ripley walked with an air of Royalty around the track. Ms. Rasnake continued, “He loved people and seemingly knew when he was being watched and therefore put on his regal charm” she began to cry, “His passing has affected me and many people and I'm so glad that I had a chance to see him (at the Hall of Fame), before he passed”.
Yes there has been great moments in sporting history over the last few weeks – but for us in the greyhound industry we mark it with the passing of a wonderful greyhound who did his sport proud – not only while he raced but in his retirement as well. And a special thanks to his owners who displayed more heart and love for an animal and his love of his sport by letting all of us enjoy him.