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Cheap Thrill keeps fast pace at Derby Lane

Published May 23, 2015

ST. PETERSBURG — Cheap Thrill covets his privacy.

"He's a loner, loves to be by himself and doesn't want to mix with the other dogs," Nova kennel owner Hans Limmer said. "On the track, he's a pro. … He knows what it's all about."

For the loner from the Lone Star State, speed is Cheap Thrill's game. He is one of the top sprinters at Derby Lane and arguably Limmer's best greyhound in several years. The perfect trip for the 35-month-old homebred male would be a quick burst from the 550-yard starting box, no early traffic and a clear path to the finish line. He has won 33 of 97 career races.

"He's fun to watch," Limmer said. "But everything has got to go his way. If he's in front, he runs well. If he gets shut off and he's got no shot, he doesn't want any part of it. A lot of dogs are like that. If he gets hit a few times, he remembers. … He's going to get hit again."

Several minor injuries have sidelined Cheap Thrill since his Derby Lane debut in 2013. When healthy, his talent is immense. After missing four months in late 2014 with a sprained ankle, Cheap Thrill reeled off a career-best six-race winning streak that started at Grade D. In March and April he won five consecutive races and seven of eight overall by a combined 26 lengths, with every winning time between 30.34 and 30.49 seconds. His top career clocking is 30.28 on Dec. 20 for owner Elly Limmer, Hans' wife.

Trained by Miguel Valenzuela, Cheap Thrill was whelped on the Rosebud, Texas, farm of Peter Limmer, Hans' son. He is by Dragon Fire, a 2006 All-America dog and wins leader at Bluffs Run in Council Bluffs, Iowa. His dam is Pretty Prairie, a top-grade sprinter who ran in the $20,000 Gold Trophy Juvenile Stakes in 2009 at Derby Lane, a race won by Hans Limmer's Hi Noon Rembrant. Cheap Thrill has a sister, Lezette, who is racing at Grade A.

Limmer said Cheap Thrill is his fastest dog since Hi Noon Renegade, a 2011 All-America athlete who won the $64,000 Sprint Classic and Gold Trophy Juvenile that year. He is now a stud dog at the Rosebud farm.

"Renegade has had a so-so year (at stud)," Limmer said. "Nothing outstanding yet, but hopefully we get the right female for him."

Cheap Thrill ranks third in track wins with 12, eight behind Abernathy kennel's 2014 All-America dog Husker Magic, a winner in her past nine starts entering Friday. Of Nova's 14 wins against top-grade competition, Cheap Thrill has 10. One of his victories came against Husker Magic, a foe he has finished ahead of in three of eight meetings.

Limmer said he plans to enter Cheap Thrill in the $8,000 T.L. Weaver Memorial Challenge on June 3-6. A win in Derby Lane's final 550 stakes of the season would be the first title for Cheap Thrill, who was eighth in the Sprint Classic on March 7.

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