1. Sports

Highlyclassified heads for last stakes race at Derby Lane

Published Jun. 18, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG — The ending is getting closer for Highlyclassified. A new beginning isn't far away.

When the $40,000 St. Petersburg Derby 660-yard series kicks off Saturday at Derby Lane, Highlyclassified will be competing in a stakes event for the last time. The racing career of the 2015 Flashy Sir award winner as the nation's top distance athlete and All-America first-team selection is in its final days with stud responsibilities next on his agenda.

"It's heart-breaking to lose the Flashy Sir award winner," said John Farmer, 51, who operates the Farmer Racing kennel with 22-year-old son Sean Farmer. "I'd like to see him go out like (retired Denver Broncos Super Bowl-winning quarterback) Peyton Manning did."

Highlyclassified, who is scheduled to be transported to Kansas when the Derby Lane meet concludes June 30, will be trying to give the kennel its second consecutive winner in the 90-year-old Derby.

The action features 32 greyhounds in four qualifying races (Races 4, 6, 8 and 10) with the first four finishers in each event advancing to Wednesday's final two qualifiers.

The top four dogs in each of those races earn berths in the $30,000 Derby on June 25, while the remaining greyhounds move to the $10,000 Consolation Derby the same night.

Farmer won the 2015 Derby with Hkf Crazy Horse, who also will leave St. Petersburg at the conclusion of the meet to stand at stud in North Carolina.

Highlyclassified, whose kennel name is Coolie, came to Derby Lane nearly 2 1/2 years ago. The 47-month-old male from a litter by Kiowa Mon Manny and Cantrell developed into a standout dual-distance performer, advancing to the finals in seven of eight previous stakes races. His lone title in the $75,000 Holiday Distance Challenge in December was instrumental in the 76-pound dog becoming Farmer's first Flashy Sir award winner.

He also has clocked the track's two fastest 660 times in the past 10 years (36.72 and 36.73 seconds). Highlyclassified has won 32 of 142 lifetime starts, and cashed in the money 81 percent of the time with top-four finishes. He can surpass $100,000 in career earnings with the Derby's first-place prize of $13,000. The Consolation Derby winner will get $4,400.

"He has been a great dog to me, and he accomplished one thing off of my bucket list with the Flashy Sir award," said Farmer, who handled the 2008 Rural Rube award winner Starz Jenko as the sport's top sprinter.

Highlyclassified, who finished third in the 2015 Derby, drew box 2 in Race 6 at 8:39 p.m. Farmer's other entries are Fraulein Lexus (4, 8:10) and Rck Blazen Fast (8, 9:13).

"I'm hoping for a 1-2 (finish) in the finals," Farmer said. "Our goal would be to win both (stakes races)."

MORE DOGS: Husker Magic of Abernathy kennel got her 104th career victory Thursday.


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