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Husker Magic aims for three straight Derby Lane titles

Published Jul. 18, 2015

ST. PETERSBURG — Summer vacation is almost over for Husker Magic.

When the speedy greyhound returns to action next week at Derby Lane, foes will be chasing her as she chases racing immortality.

Never in recent history — and perhaps ever at the 90-year-old track — has a dog captured three consecutive win titles.

"You don't get too many dogs that (run well) that long," said kennel owner Jim Abernathy, 49. "If you get one like her in a lifetime, you're lucky."

Husker Magic, who has been rested since June 13, turned in arguably one of the track's top performances in the past 12 years at the January to June meet. Boosted by her second career-best win streak of 11, the 39-month-old female out of a litter by Rhythmless and Casino Zada won 22 of 31 races to claim top dog honors for the second time in a row.

She finished four victories ahead of Burk Greyhounds' Mega Nerfetta, who is now at Southland Park in West Memphis, Ark.

Husker Magic's win rate of 71 percent was fourth-highest at Derby Lane since 2003-04, behind Cayman Went (83.7 percent in 2003-04), the recently retired Joey Ice (79.5 in 2014), and Flying Coal City (71.4 in 2010).

But Husker Magic is second to none when 1-2 finishes are considered. She was either first or second 29 times for a quiniela record of 93.5 percent to beat out Joey Ice (92.3), Cayman Went (88.4) and Hometown Boy (85.72 in 2007). Patrons made Husker Magic the wagering favorite in every Derby Lane start.

Venus Espinosa (2012-13) and Husker Magic are the only dogs to win back-to-back crowns during that span.

Husker Magic, a 2014 All-America selection, also captured her first two stakes titles: The $64,000 Sprint Classic on March 7 and the inaugural $35,000 Daytona 550 National Championship, Jan. 24 at Daytona Beach Kennel Club. She has 77 victories from 126 career starts and $91,815 in earnings for owners Terry Haber, Arthur Kaufman and Abernathy. The 550-yard specialist is trained by Kayruth Abernathy, Jim's wife.

"Winning the Daytona race and the Sprint stake, and being wins leader again, I think she's already an All-American next year," Jim Abernathy said.

Husker Magic benefited from her previous layoff, a seven-week break in 2014. She won seven consecutive races after the time off. Several months later, she won 11 in a row.

"There's no reason to take her off again," Abernathy said. "If she continues to run like she has been and (there are) no injuries, I think she's got another good six to eight months.

"I wish I had 10 more like her. … She's an incredible dog."

MORE DOGS: Cayman Went will be joined by Derby Lane graduates K's Broadway and Mo Kick as inductees to the Greyhound Hall of Fame on Oct. 15 at Abilene, Kan., the National Greyhound Association announced recently. Other inductees will be Granny and P.L. Greer.

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