Husker Magic earns captain spot on All-America team

Published Feb. 6, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG — The voice on the other end of the telephone conversation grew faint, followed by momentary silence.

Derby Lane kennel owner Jim Abernathy needed time Monday to regroup.

"I'm getting emotional," he said.

For good reason.

Abernathy had just learned that Husker Magic, his two-time stakes winner and 2015 national wins leader, was voted captain of the 53rd annual All-America team by the American Greyhound Track Operators Association. She was the only repeat All-America selection and is Derby Lane's fourth captain in the past decade, joining Joey Ice (2014), Flying Coal City (2010) and Flying Stanley (2007).

Highlyclassified, the top distance performer at the St. Petersburg track for Farmer Racing kennel, also was picked to the eight-dog All-America team.

"(Husker Magic) deserves it," Abernathy, 50, said. "She's been a once-in-a-lifetime dog."

The 46-month-old female out of a litter by Rhythmless and Casino Zada is the first captain and two-time All-America greyhound for Abernathy, whose only other All-America dogs in a 30-year career have been Aksarben Duke (1990) and Fast Buck (1974).

Husker Magic is the industry's leading active career wins leader with 97, including a North America-best 41 in 2015 — a year when she captured the $64,000 Sprint Classic at Derby Lane and the $35,000 Daytona 550 National Championship at Daytona Beach Kennel Club.

"Winning 100 races doesn't happen very often in the history of greyhound racing," Abernathy said. "To have a two-time All-American and the captain is amazing. … All I do is keep her healthy, and it's all on her."

Abernathy said everyone in his kennel — wife Kayruth Abernathy, trainer Claudio Lopez and helper Yordany Rodriguez — enjoys Husker Magic.

"It's her personality," Jim Abernathy said. "She knows she's special. … It's just the way she looks at you with her eyes."

Highlyclassified, winner of the $75,000 Holiday Distance Challenge on Dec. 12, is the first All-America dog from the Derby Lane kennel of John Farmer, 50, who has trained three All-America runners elsewhere.

"We're real proud of (Highlyclassified), because he's run against the strongest competition at Derby Lane all year round and shown that he was the best (⅜-mile dog) out of all of them," Farmer said.

HORSES: Allie's Event, who recorded his first career victory on dirt on Jan. 31 to remain perfect in two starts at age 10 at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar, is expected to be pointed toward the $75,000 Tampa Turf Classic on the April 9 Florida Cup Day card. "He's definitely a candidate for Florida Cup and was third in the race last year," said Lori Smock, the gelding's breeder, owner and trainer. The turf and synthetic surface specialist with 13 victories would surpass $500,000 in earnings with a win in the Classic.