NGA News - After a wild and crazy semi-final round involving 24 greyhounds on Sunday July 3, the elite eight of the finest Texas bred greyhounds in the country take center stage Saturday evening July 9 in the $50,000 TGA Texas Round Up Sprint Championship finals.
Heading into the semi-final round, there were two competitors, Cry Homer of LQK Kennels, Inc. and KB’s Lights Out of K-Rod Kennel, that were undefeated through the first two rounds. When the dust settled, all of the greyhounds had tasted defeat at least once and the final margin of points from the top qualifier to the eighth and final qualifier was only five points.
LQK Kennels, Inc., trained by Cam Hawkins, has two shots at the championship with Par Guy and Cry Homer, both with 27 points. Par Guy paved his way to the finals with an eye popping victory in the semi-final round by exploding from the 550-yard starting box and going box to wire for his second consecutive win. Cry Homer was the prohibitive favorite before the start of the stakes series and backed up those predictions by winning his first two qualifying rounds. There is a glimmer of hope for the rest of the field though as on Sunday, Cry Homer experienced trouble in the first turn only to rally late for a fifth place finish earning him a total of 27 points also. Is this just a hiccup for the 2011 wins leader and 550-yard track record holder? We shall see.
Lingle Kennel, trained by David Lingle, gets two opportunities at claiming the championship with DLT Fire Water and DLT Armageddon. DLT Fire Water punched his ticket to the championship finals without the luxury of a win during the three rounds. This speedball finished second each time to tie for the point lead at 27. Although DLT Fire Water has only reached the winner’s circle twice in 2011, his 24 career wins show that DLT FireWater knows how to steal a victory when loose on the lead. DLT Armageddon put on his game face at the right time by winning a top grade race for the first time in six months in the first round and followed it up by a hard fought second place finish in the semi-final round adding up to 23 points for this rail running specialist.
Newcomers to the Texas Gulf Coast in 2011, K-Rod Kennel, trained by Cindy Unrein, also qualified two greyhounds for the finals. KB’s Lights Out went toe to toe with Cry Homer looking very sharp winning her first two rounds showing versatility by winning once on the lead and the other in come from behind fashion. The third time would not be a charm for KB’s Lights Out though running into trouble around the first turn and watching Par Guy run off into the sunset. The sixth place finish still added to a total of 26 points and safely into the final. Now on the other hand, KB’s Cigar Slam leaped into the championship mix by going box to wire in the semi-final round running a career best time of 29.79 seconds. This tremendous effort by the 34 career win KB’s Cigar Slam earned him enough valuable points at 24 to reach the final field of eight.
After winning one of the most exciting races ever in last year’s final with Look My Way, D.Q. Williams Kennel, trained by Craig Edwards, looks for back to back TGA Texas Round Up victories with one of Gulf Greyhound Park’s all time fastest greyhounds, Rough Hustle. Rough Hustle worked his way to the championship finals with two thirds and a second place finish tallying 23 points. With 40 wins out of 90 career starts, Rough Hustle has rounded back into top form after a five month layoff and appears to peaking at the right time.
The final competitor in this extraordinary championship field is JIT Qn Victoria from Bone Man Racing Kennel, trained by John Mitcham, Jr. After chasing Cry Homer for a third place finish in the first round, JIT Qn Victoria showed her skills by romping home to a six-length front running victory in the second round. The semi-finals proved troublesome though for JIT Qn Victoria stumbling in the first turn to finish fifth as KB’s Cigar Slam and DLT Fire Water sped away but in the end, gained enough points to make the finals with 22.
The all important post position draw will be held Wednesday morning, July 6th.