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 Posted: Oct 12 2013, 08:04 AM
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Nine Things To Watch For At Southland Park Gaming & Racing

By Shane Bolender Fri, Oct 11, 2013

As the 2013 live racing season begins its home stretch run at Southland Park Gaming & Racing, I have compiled a list of nine things to watch for over the next four months. In no particular order of importance or significance, these items would include:


The sixth running of the “Festival of Stakes” is proving to be the best one yet in the series. Estimates are that total added purses for the six championship divisions combined are predicted to be $250,000-$300,000! Improvements in the television presentation along with a “Championship Pick 6” will also be included as well for the gambling public. There are plans for a handicapping contest that evening involving all 12 races that evening (consolation and championship races) and since “Championship night” falls on the first Friday of the month, we will also feature the force-out of our Twin-Trifecta Jackpot within the Festival of Stakes series of races! For folks that can join us trackside on Friday evening, November 1st, it should prove to be a memorable event.


“Puppy Pro Bowler” Rob Gronkowski, more famously known as “The Gronk” is heading to Southland after a dominating performance in the $20,000 Gallagher/ Kinnaird Puppy Stakes at the Palm Beach Kennel Club. The Steve Sarras owned young stud compiled 23 wins in 35 starts at the West Palm Beach oval. He looks to get himself acclimated to Southland Park during the month of September in preparations for the Festival of Stakes where he will take on the elite stars already making headlines here. We look forward to this exciting star and welcome him with open arms……and legs…..and hopefully bettors wallets!


With four months left to go, we have a three way battle for win leader supremacy going on. “U Too Pure Silk” from the Charter Kennel tied “Kiowa Producer” of the Magic City Kennel at 17 wins this year by winning the “BetAmerica People’s Choice Challenge” race at the end of August. Not that either one of these superstars can just concentrate on each other, as “Barcelona Boss” of the Ryan Farms Kennel is only one win behind at 16 victories. With the “Festival of Stakes” yet to come, each start will be even more precious for the win leader crown.


This shouldn’t be news for most folks within the greyhound industry, however, to the exact levels we are speaking of may be. Last year’s record of just over $18 million looks to surely go by the wayside this season as purses already are approaching $15 million with four months to go. Three kennels have already broken a million dollars in purse earnings (T and T Kennel - $1,313,850, Magic City Kennel - $1,205,908, and Plum Creek Kennel - $1,190,697) and another three kennels should surpass the million mark within the month of September.


While it is true that super marathon greyhounds don’t grow on trees, if you have a greyhound that can handle the 820-yard course, there will be plenty of “green” coming your way as the owner. The average winning purse for a greyhound on this course earned between $4000 and $5,500 for just a single victory! Bettors seem to love this race as well, as it consistently ranks in the top 2-3 races in terms of total handle on any performance an 820-yard race is run. If the number of active greyhounds continues to increase for this distance, there is even consideration being given to create another level in the Festival of Stakes in future years to accommodate a championship division for this distance.


With the sharp rise in regular purses over the past three years, a comparable jump in the purses available for Arkansas Bred greyhounds has also occurred. This has caused a steady increase in Arkansas Bred registered greyhounds in the state. With these state breds having their own division in the Festival of Stakes, it was also time to showcase them more frequently. Thus, this Fall, Southland Park will be featuring “Arkansas Bred Preferred” races each week which are designated to showcase breeding in the State of Arkansas. Look for them in our live racing programs soon.


This year will feature the 4th Annual “Paws For A Cause” charity banquet to be held on Saturday evening, October 26th in our newly refurbished Kennel Club. This event invites charities from around the Mid-South region in for a live greyhound racing handicapping tournament to determine the amount of the donation they will receive. The Arkansas Greyhound Kennel Association donates the funds which are expected to reach $40,000 this year! Twelve charities are expected to be selected for this year’s event which features a dinner, cocktail reception hour and of course, live greyhound racing.


Southland Park in partnership with the Arkansas Greyhound Kennel Association will once again host the “Race For The Cure” event to occur from October 21st through October 26th. During this week, the #1 greyhound will toss aside the customary red blanket in favor of a special pink blanket to raise awareness for breast cancer research. Each time the “pink” blanket wins, a $100 donation will be made to the Susan G. Komen fund. Second place finishes won’t be bad either, as it earns a $75 donation each time that happens and even a third place effort will earn $50 towards the cause. This will be the third year for this event and it has spread to other Delaware North Company tracks as well as similar events will be held at Wheeling Island, Daytona Beach and Finger Lakes during the same week.


There are not many “firsts” that can happen at a greyhound racing facility that has been open since 1956. After nearly 60 years of racing, just about everything that can happen has happened. Tornados, floods, snowstorms, “no-races”, championship moments and those things you would rather not see twice. However, in 2014, an event never done before at Southland Park will likely occur (pending approval from the Arkansas Racing Commission)…….. live racing on a Sunday. Yes, that would be correct. While many tracks have been racing on Sundays for many years, Southland was unable to do so due to an archaic rule that existed back when the track first started racing back in the 50’s. Legislators in the state addressed the issue in this past legislative session and removed most of the “hard wired” restrictions and left the power to grant race days, times, etc. to the Arkansas Racing Commission to grant approval for as they see fit. Although subject to change, the tentative plan is to race Sunday afternoons with a 2pm post time. With the surge of business we have seen lately, plus the higher volume crowds on the weekends, racing on Sunday is poised to be a big hit with our fans that have been coming only to find that simulcast racing is all we could offer before. We are excited to be able to finally finish off a true weekend strong…….soon!
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