The 2011 edition of the Orange Park Derby is right around the corner, and from the look of things, this could be one of the deepest, toughest fields in recent memory.
Even though there are going to be a couple of favorites floating around, there are plenty of new greyhounds trying out the distance for the first time on each and every card and we have some ship ins getting ready.
No greyhound has been more successful in 2010 over the added distance than All-American candidate, and 2010 Orange Park Derby Winner by 9 lengths, Eds Budby. When you think of 660 yard races, he is the greyhound that comes to mind. Over the added distance he has been a machine as he has posted up win, after win, after win, after win. Thru the year at 660 yards he has compiled a record of 56 starts, 32 wins, 8 places, 5 shows, and 3 fourth place finishes.
What is even more impressive is how he wins races. From the lead, or from off the pace, Budby does whatever he needs to do it get it done, and he can string those wins together like no other greyhound. On the year he has runs of 3 or more wins on 6 occasions, including streaks of 3, 4, 4, 4, 5, and 8 in a row at the end of this year.
Budby is no one trick pony though, he has also run well over the 550 yard course. Overall his totals are 66 starts, 35 wins, 11 places, 6 shows, and 5 fourth place efforts. Included in those numbers is his 2nd place finish in the finals of the 2010 James J Patton Silver Cup, as he just missed his second stakes title by a length at the wire.
Resting up now, Budby is getting everything rip roaring and ready to go to try and defend his title as the Orange Park Derby Champ, and he is going to need it as these other greyhounds are looking to knock him off.
Kiowa Deli Dee had been the hottest greyhound currently running over the 660 yard course at the Orange Park Kennel Club. Before her last race, she has won 8 races in a row in box to wire fashion. She was untouchable on the front end and made the rest of the field feel like they had no say in the matter.
Breaking has always been the key to her success, and once in front, she can be very hard to take down before the wire. Peaking at the right time, Deli Dee is looking to make her first start over the added distance in a stakes race. She missed last year's Orange Park Derby and if she keep breaking, and running, like she has been recently, this field better be concerned, very concerned about her.
Another greyhound to notice is the recent addition to the Red Oak Racing roster. Djays Octane has joined the ranks of greyhounds at the Orange Park Kennel Club from Southland, and to say this greyhound knows how to win races is an understatement.
Octane is a well traveled stakes winner over 660 yards and has just missed in several other stakes events at the shorter Southland distance of 583 yards. He is no stranger to tough competition and thrives on it with each and every stakes start that he gets. He even won qualifying rounds of a660 yard stakes at Derby Lane too.
Even though he is new to the racetrack, Djays Octane must already be considered a threat to steal away the Orange Park Derby title, just like another Southland shipper did back in 2006, and his name was DAC!
Last but not least let's take a look at a greyhound that has never even run a 660 yard race, and he still might be the one to beat for the whole thing. Really Xtreme was the recent winner of the 2010 Jacksonville Juvenile, and if you have seen this phenom run, then you know just what I am talking about.
His daddy, All-American Afleet Alex, has passed along some great traits to this special youngster and so far he has put them to good use. He went undefeated to grade A and finished 4th in the finals of the 2010 James J Patton Silver Cup in just his 14th career start. He came right back from that triumph and took home another with his stakes title in his 21st career effort.
With a combination of a great rush from the starting box, and his power coming home over 550 yards, this greyhound looks like a natural for the added distance. Also working in his favor is that two of his littermates have already took the jump to the added distance and both have shown that they can go the route. He is better than both and should be better than both at any distance.
Watch out for him as your sleeper pick as the Ice Man has come to the 660 yard course and if he all goes his way, he might have a shot at back to back stakes title.
Others to consider could be:
La's Lucy, last year's Orange Park Derby pre-race favorite, who is rounding back into form with 3 wins in her last 5 starts.
Paddy Whacker. A stakes winner and proven tough greyhound that has taken well to the move to 660 yards. Even though he has not won over the distance yet, he has been a tough competitor in each and every effort.
Kiowa Trent Tam. She has won 2 of her last 3 races over the route and along with her brother Tovi, she provides a dynamic duo to contend with.
Two more names come to mind too as both were finalists in last year's Orange Park Derby, and both have won their last start.
Uss Fine Touch was a converted sprinter and has been flourishing over 550 yards, but could easily jump back for the stakes.
Holly Noelle is the other greyhound, but her win was over even a greater distance, try 770 yards. She is tough on top and breaking is what got her into the finals last year and she seems to have not lost her touch.
Get ready on the 14th, as the entries will be in for the stakes and you will see if your favorite will be making the plunge to the added distance. The real fun and excitement gets under way on January 21st in the first round of the stakes. The second round will run on January 24th, and the third round will go on January 28th. The Semi-finals will take place on January 31st, and the finals of the 2011 Orange Park Derby will run on Saturday evening February 5th at the Orange Park Kennel Club.
Like I said at the start, this race looks to be one of the toughest and deepest in recent memory, and just because the big names might be the favorites, you never know who is going to win the title. That's why we run the races!