ST. PETERSBURG — If kennelmates Jw Rapid Strike and Se's Chewie were the only greyhounds in a race, Matt Parker said the latter would win every time.
But Parker, the 24-year-old son of Capabal kennel owner Henry Parker and trainer Belinda Parker, changed his tune after Jw Rapid Strike beat Se's Chewie in the $20,000 Fall Juvenile on Nov. 12. It was the first stakes win for Jw Rapid Strike and first 1-2 stakes finish for Henry Parker in 21 years at Derby Lane.
"Not bad when you get caught by your own dog," Henry said.
The win by Jw Rapid Strike was somewhat surprising to the Parkers, who believed Se's Chewie would be their dog to beat in the 550-yard event. Se's Chewie led most of the way until Jw Rapid Strike surged ahead late to win by a neck, giving owner Walter Wasik of Stafford, Texas, a $9,000 paycheck.
"We were counting on Chewie to win more than Rapid Strike," Matt said.
After the trophy presentation, Matt was asked which dog he would have given the edge to if the pair faced off 10 times.
"I would have said Chewie would win 10 out of 10 times. That was before this race."
Jw Rapid Strike was sent to Derby Lane for stakes. He arrived in July and won his first two schooling races by 11½ total lengths. But a shoulder injury slowed his development and he entered the Fall Juvenile without a Grade A win. Around the kennel he is called "All-Star" by Belinda.
"Wally likes him so much," she said. "He is quiet and you wouldn't know he's in the building. He looks like a bear with that little black face. He is just maturing and seems to be coming into his own."
A 25-month-old son of Tk Quick Strike and Dream Fannie, Jw Rapid Strike has shown closing ability, unlike the speedy Se's Chewie, who is tied for fifth in the track win standings with 11. Tk Quick Strike, a winner of more than 50 races, was voted the Flashy Sir award winner in 2008 as the top distance performer in the industry by the National Greyhound Association. The Wheeling Island (W.Va.) standout broke the track's record at 678 yards four times and was a two-time winner of the $10,000 Mountaineer Classic (2008-09). Dream Fannie was a Grade A sprinter at Derby Lane.
Jw Rapid Strike made his first 24 career starts at 550 yards (seven wins). In his 660 debut Wednesday, the 69-pound greyhound finished eighth.
"He's a dog that just keeps getting better," Henry said.
Jw Rapid Strike's victory came four weeks after 2010 track win leader Aerial Battle raced for the final time for Capabal. A winner of 70 races, Aerial Battle was Capabal's last previous stakes champion in the 2010 Matinee Idol.
HOLIDAY SCHEDULE: Derby Lane will not have live racing on Thanksgiving, but it will open at 10:45 a.m. for poker and simulcast wagering. On Friday and Nov. 26, Derby Lane will have matinee-evening doubleheaders.