Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NGA expects greyhound pup entries to double

by TIM HORAN Sports Editor

Bigger was expected and bigger it will be.

The National Greyhound Association’s fall meet, which starts Monday and runs through Saturday in Abilene, will have about twice as many greyhound entries as last spring’s meet.

There are 470 greyhounds in the auction, as compared to 233 last spring. With a Saturday noon deadline, officials are expecting over 500 entries in the track stakes, as compared to 258 last April.

There are several reasons for the increased numbers, officials say.

“It’s a sign of a greater degree of stability in the industry,” said Gary Guccione, NGA’s executive director.

Foremost, last spring’s was exceptionally small in numbers, however it was a very successful meet and auction.

“It was a buyers’ market,” he said of the auction. “Generally after a successful meet the numbers will spike a little bit.”

Traditionally the fall meets are larger because it’s difficult for Kansas’ owners to prepare the pups during the winter months. The exceptionally hot summer in Kansas was not a problem.

“It was worse in Texas,” Guccione said.

Kenneth Biehle of Thorndale, Texas, entered 90 greyhounds, the most of any participants.

However, Guccione said there were a notably higher number of greyhounds raised than usual.

“There was some anticipation legislatively two years ago, some of which did happen, Florida, and some that didn’t, like Kansas,” he said.

Legislation in Florida potentially detrimental to the industry failed, while a bill to open three greyhound tracks in Kansas failed by two votes in the senate.

Guccione said a change in format last spring allowing all of the entries to compete in the finals is in place this fall. Traditionally, a greyhound had to finish in the top three to make the finals. This fall greyhounds running fourth through six will also compete on Thursday and Friday.

“It was really popular last spring,” Guccione said. “We decided to bring that back.”

The first round races start on Monday and Tuesday at 9 a.m. The races are free and open to the public. Wednesday night, Greg Fast, a greyhound owner from Burlingame, Kan., will be honored at the banquet.

The race finals will be held Thursday and Friday. The NGA’s auction starts Friday evening and concludes on Saturday.

As in the past the NGA races and auction can be seen online. Registered owners are also allowed to bid at the auction online.

Hall of Fame

On Thursday the Greyhound Hall of Fame will induct a local man and one of the greyhounds he owned into the Hall of Fame.

Vince Berland, owner of Flying Eagles kennel and farm, started out by buying stock at the NGA auction in 1986. Since then his greyhounds, most often carrying the popular “Flying” prefix, have been a dominating force on the American racing and breeding scene.

One of his greyhounds, Kiowa Sweet Trey, will also be inducted this fall.

In all, Berland has owned, bred or raced nine All-Americans. He’s also won more NGA Rural Rube and Flashy Sir Awards (three RRs and two FSs) than any other owner.

Berland’s impact on National meets has also been significant. The record-breaking sale of Flying Train in 1991 for $56,000 started the ball rolling with big-dollar sales at the auction. Berland is still the highest seller in a single NGA meet (more than $298,000 in the Fall Meet of 2000). He’s won the most main-stakes at a meet, breaking the record seven times (beginning in Fall 1990 ending in Spring 2005).

Kiowa Sweet Trey, the canine inductee, was bred by Kay Smith who sold half-interest in Sweet Trey to Berland after the Spring Meet 2001 for $15,000. He started his career at Wheeling where he racked up an incredible 16-1-0 record in 18 starts. At St. Petersburg, he won the Inaugural, the All-Star Kennel Preview and ran third (to Dodgem By Design and Talentedmrripley) in the Sprint Classic. He was runner-up in the Hollywood World Classic and second in the Wichita Night Of Stars.

For his exploits, Sweet Trey was named to the 2001 All-America team. His career record, cut short due to injury, was 31-4-2-1 in 41 starts (out of the money just 3 times).

All this paled in comparison to the impact Kiowa Sweet Trey would have as a sire. He quickly rose to the upper division of the Sire Standings, then captured the national sire title in 2007 and 2008. Earlier this year, Kiowa Sweet Trey became the all-time leading sire of All-Americans, with an entire team (8) of his own: Igoby Bady (2005), Kiowa Delicate (2006), Flying Stanley (2007), Flyin Bridgeport (2007), Starz Jenko (2008), Flying Mancini (2008), Kiowa Wish Frank (2008) and Flying Coal City (2010).

Sweet Trey died in 2010 but still remains a major force on today’s sire scene.


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