by Eb Netr
The Rural Rube Award
Ask almost anyone who won 2010 Horse of the Year and they'll probably be able to tell you that it was Rachel Alexandra. But if you ask most people who won the Rural Rube Award in 2010, I doubt that half of them know that it was Yahoo Omar from the Rader Kennel who just managed to edge out Gable's Sour Cream in votes. Greyhounds are sort of the "Rodney Dangerfields" of the racing world. They don't get the respect they deserve for their accomplishments, and even when they do get awards, the press and the public don't seem to notice like they should.
This is a shame, because greyhound races are every bit as exciting as horse races, not to take anything away from horse racing. But just because the races are faster and shorter, I think sometimes that people don't realize the tremendous effort and skill it takes to get to where Yahoo Omar is in the standings. The Rural Rube award was named for a greyhound who was nicknamed the "Man O' War" of greyhound racing, and with good reason. The winner is decided by votes from National Greyhound Association members and was started by Gary Guccione, of the NGA, in 1971, so that owners and breeders could have a voice in what greyhounds should get national accolades and end of year honors.
Rural Rube was born in 1937 in Kansas and started racing in October of 1938. His last race was in July of 1940. During that time, he won 51 out of 83 races and came in second or third in 21 races, a remarkable record. He also set two sprint track records, including a world record running the 5/16ths course in 31 seconds, which was unheard of in those days. Much of his career was spent in Massachusetts where he won the following races:
1st Wonderland Juvenile
1st Wonderland Futurity
1st Wonderland Inaugural, twice
1st Bay State Derby
In 1939, at Flagler, he won 2 Inaugurals, 2 Derbies and the Flagler Futurity Stakes.
Not only was Rural Rube an outstanding runner, he was also a great hit with the crowds, because of his intelligence and personality. Like Zenyatta, who also has star power, Rural Rube posed for the cameras and played to the crowds who came to see him. He even sat at the table with a napkin around his neck at a banquet in his honor where he ate a steak given to him by his owner, C. B. Carroll. When he was honored with a gold collar, some of those present insisted that he "bowed" to the crowd when they applauded him.
In 1940, Rural Rube was presented with a gold medal inscribed, "To Rural Rube, The Champion's Champion." He quit racing but went on to sire 163 offspring, many of whom went on to major stakes races. In 1963, Rural Rube was one of the first 3 greyhounds inducted into the Greyhound Hall of Fame. He died in 1950.