Palm Beach $20,000 Spring Puppy Stakes Preview
The prerace hype is over...it's time to settle it on the track! The 51st Annual Bob Balfe Puppy Stakes is set to commence Saturday afternoon, with 20K on the line for eight of the most promising greyhound athletes in the country.
In what has been one of the more wide open tournaments we've ever seen in Palm Beach history, as the Final is completely up for grabs for one of these soon to be superstars.
The Final will be contested in Race 12 in Saturday's Matinee. Here's a breakdown of the entire field and the odds we believe they will go off at come post time.
#1 B Allstar Garth ~ Lester Raines Kennel (3-1 Odds)
Blazing early speed is this young guns game for owner Edward Bolton. Garth has won nearly 50% of his races this season at "The Beach," including two victories in this tourney. The public will jump on Garth for the win, but be aware. The last two times Garth held the 1 hole, he finished out of the money including a last place clunker in the semis.
#2 Speedy Charlie ~ Agganis Kennel (15-1 Odds)
Most likely will be your biggest long shot. Known to his friends simply as "Batman." Charlie pulled the stunner in the 3rd Round, winning at 27-1. Doesn't break out of the box whatsoever, but if he is in any position near the front early, his lethal close could steal this for trainer Bob Dawson. We've seen crazier things happen in Puppy Stakes Finals.
#3 Char Vallon ~ Douglas Kennel (4-1 Odds)
Can the Douglas Kennel top off this magical season for their team with a stakes title? Vallon gives them a shot. Part of the super sisters that includes Char Draper in this finale. Vallon was in the money in all four qualifying rounds, including a smoking 29.57 secs romp in the opener. Has a solid close if she can stay in the thick of it early.
#4 Record Year ~ Lester Raines Kennel (3-1 Odds)
It just seems like it is in the cards for this girl and her team. The name fits, her kennel is looking for their first championship here and to top it all off, Record's birthday is on Saturday for the Final!
Record comes in red hot, with five wins in her last six starts. Uses that early burn out of the box to take leads and just doesn't relent under pressure. Watch out for the girl with the white socks.
#5 Char Draper ~ Douglas Kennel (4-1 Odds)
When she goes big, the stop watch gets completely lit up.
Draper blew the doors off in the first round clocking a 29.41 sizzler, one of the fastest splits in puppy stakes history. She also was impressive in the semis, avoiding trouble and taking the W by eight lengths.
Draper has shown all of her skills from the inside holes but has struggled in the midtrack. Tough spot here between two hounds that can fly early.
#6 JS Hot Pocket ~ Rader Racing (5-1 Odds)
The run of Rader Racing pups begins here. Hot Pocket burst on the scene in this tourney, taking the first two rounds and scoring a 2nd in the semis. Can rush from any box. Has the most star studded parents of any of the Finalists, with the richest winner in American greyhound history in Sh Avatar as the sire and former Palm Beach Derby winner JS Kerry Oki as the dam.
#7 Barts UpFront ~ Rader Racing (6-1 Odds)
All or nothing this tourney for UpFront. Took the first two rounds but has looked very puppy pedestrian in the last two starts. Splits have also risen throughout the tourney. Can UpFront find his winning stride with everything on the line Saturday for owner Norm Rader?
#8 JS Digital Dash ~ Rader Racing (5-1 Odds)
Getting the hot outside hole in a tournament final is always an advantage. Digital Dash can run from any box and will need the lead early to have any chance in this one. Rader Racing will look for their 5th Bob Balfe Title, including last years winner Flying Russian.
This Final could go so many different ways that I won't be surprised by anything that happens. I'm going with #4 Record Year for the 20K victory here. The nationally recognized kennel gets their first ever title in South FLA and trainer Kurt Trezciak becomes a household name around the country.
Good luck to all athletes, owners and teams on Saturday in the Puppy Stakes Final! This should be one exciting tournament finale to witness.