ST. PETERSBURG — Conversation among the leadouts is lively moments before they place the greyhounds into the starting box for the upcoming race at Derby Lane.
Rt's Bo Jangles seems oblivious to all the chatter. He hardly bats an eye, staring at the tote board on the backstretch.
The red blanket that he is wearing bears several symbolisms on this particular evening: the number of his starting box, his eventual finish in the race, and his ranking for the January-to-June meet — all No. 1.
"I never thought that much of him (at first)," kennel owner Cal Holland said. "But after he started winning in Grade C and B, and got into A, he took off. He is an amazing dog."
Rt's Bo Jangles, a 27-month-old male from a litter by Kiowa Mon Manny and Penrose Karrie, closed the 206-performance meet with a flourish to claim his first top dog title. The 550-yard specialist won his final six starts by a combined 37 lengths to capture the championship by a 20-17 margin over Imark Keefer of Abernathy kennel. Rt's Bo Jangles made 36 starts. He led Cal Holland kennel to its first win championship, and became the operation's first meet win leader since Kentucky Fire in 2011.
Owned by Randy Toler of Penrose, Colo., Rt's Bo Jangles caught fire in the second half of the meet. He won 12 of his final 15 starts, and overtook kennelmate Kentucky Kat after she was sidelined in early June with a shoulder injury. Kentucky Kat, winner of the $64,000 Sprint Classic on March 4, wound up third in the standings with 16 victories.
"(Rt's Bo Jangles) is just a wonderful kennel dog," Holland said. "He never causes any problems. We call him 'Velcro,' because when Gladys (Holland's wife) is in the kennel, he won't leave her side."
The 69-pound greyhound has shown a propensity to overwhelm his opponents. Seventeen of his 32 victories have been by at least five lengths, including two by 10. He didn't win his first Grade A race until his 20th start in December 2016.
Rt's Bo Jangles has already tested stakes waters. After failing to advance beyond the second round in the Sprint Classic in February, he reached the finale of the $20,000 Remembrance on May 29 as the qualifying point leader. Rt's Bo Jangles was the even-money wagering favorite in the title race, but finished third behind 10-1 shot Poweroftraction of Nova kennel.
"When he was breaking in, I didn't know he was going to be the top win champion," Holland said. "He's got a big heart. … He wants to run."
HORSES: Two Tampa Bay Downs graduates are entered in this weekend's major races for 3-year-olds. Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming is in Saturday's Jim Dandy Stakes (Race 10, 6:18 p.m.) at Sarasota (Springs) in New York. On Sunday, Sam F. Davis winner McCraken is set to start in the Haskell Invitational (12, 5:47) at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J.