ST. PETERSBURG ó Seats are scarce on the Rtís Bo Jangles bandwagon.
Cal Holland certainly isnít giving his up.
"This dog is something special," said Holland, Derby Lane kennel owner and Tampa Bay Greyhound Association president. "Heís such a nice dog to work with and be around. Iím just blessed to have him in my kennel."
Rtís Bo Jangles, Hollandís first All-America first-team selection in 44 years, has never been better as he enters Saturday nightís $64,000 Sprint Classic ó Derby Laneís richest 550-yard stakes race. In his past four victories since Jan. 20, the 34-month-old son from a litter by Kiowa Mon Manny and Penrose Karrie has clocked the meetís three fastest times.
For all the accolades Rtís Bo Jangles has piled up ó 2017 All-America first-team status, a national win championship, back-to-back Derby Lane win crowns, and a pair of stakes titles ó Holland said the 70-pound dogís most recent race ranks high as well.
Breaking from the No. 7 box Feb. 10, Rtís Bo Jangles clocked a career-best time of 30.05 seconds. The 10-length win was his 60th lifetime victory from 104 starts for owner Randy Toler of Penrose, Colo. That was Derby Laneís fastest 550-yard time since Fiesta Mercury of former Alderson kennel clocked a 30.01 on Oct. 20, 2015.
"He amazed me with the way he broke out of that box, rushed and went around that (first) turn," Holland said. "When he got there, he was about five (lengths) in front. He really doesnít do that great out of the 7 (seven of 13 career wins from that box)."
Rtís Bo Jangles, who has earned more than $47,000, also has clocked a 30.12 and 30.13 recently. The performances came as Holland learned Rtís Bo Jangles had become his third All-America runner, joining Haroldís Best (1973) and Lbís Dallas Girl (1969).
"I was just so proud, and he deserved it," Holland said.
A year ago, Rtís Bo Jangles was not a serious challenger in the Sprint Classic won by Hollandís Kentucky Kat. He entered the event with only 12 career victories, and was eliminated after two rounds with fourth- and fifth-place finishes.
"He was just breaking in," Holland said.
No operation has won consecutive Sprint Classics since former McAllister kennel in 2009-10 with Flyin Home Depot and Flying Coal City.
"It would be wonderful to win again, and for Bo Janglesí owners," Holland said. "Theyíre trying to fly down here for (the Sprint Classic)."
Thirty-two greyhounds begin the first of four qualifying rounds in Races 4 (8:10 p.m.), 6 (8:39), 8 (9:13) and 10 (9:47). The top eight in accumulative points advance to the March 3 finale with the winner earning $25,000. Rtís Bo Jangles drew box 8 in Race 10.
HORSES: The $100,000 Pelican Stakes (Race 8, 4:20 p.m.) and the $50,000 Minaret Stakes (10, 5:30) are on Saturdayís 11-race program at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar.