While Derby Lane's Flying Coal City was cast in the national spotlight recently with his post-season honors, one of his littermates is lighting up the board at Wheeling Island.
Flying Culloden isn't flashy like his All-American brother, but he's been steady and solid throughout his career - the consummate blue collar worker. Since late December, the sprinter has been noticed.
In his last 15 top grade races, Culloden - a March 2008 greyhound out of Kiowa Sweet Trey-Flying Crestline - has 7 wins, 5 seconds and 2 thirds.
T-L Photo/STAN PAWLOSKI
Flying Culloden receives some special sweets for St. Patrick's Day from Brenda Conner, left,
at Wheeling Island. Greyhounds are pampered daily for their athletic efforts. The way Culloden has been running lately, he may be in line for some extra goodies from owner Dean Miner.
"Culloden may not be the best dog at Wheeling right now, but he's as good as the best. I wouldn't trade him for anyone," Abrahamson Kennel trainer Tom Engle said. "He's never gotten a lot of respect until now. Even in the final of the Holiday Sprint in December, he went off at 14-1 and finished second."
After a sixth in the first round of the sprint stake, Culloden came back with a first and a second to make the final. He's been on a roll ever since.
Culloden has won four out of his last five trips with only a second by a nose sandwiched in between. His four victories have been by a combined 32 lengths (12 1/2, 8 1/2, 6 and 5 lengths).
"If Culloden gets close early and has a clean trip, I like his chances against any dog at Wheeling," Engle said.
Culloden doesn't possess great break speed, but on occasion he'll pop the box. He has a power rush to the turn.
"He has a huge rush. If he breaks in the top four, not too many dogs will beat him to the turn," Engle said. "When he snaps his break and gets on top early, he's so strong and fast he opens up on fields."
Although Culloden prefers midtrack, he has five wins from both the eight and one holes. Actually he's never lost from the one box.
"I think he breaks better from the one hole. If he doesn't break sharp from the eight box, he'll rush up into the race," Engle said. "He's got guts too. He'll push his way through."
Engle also thinks Culloden races smarter today.
"As he's gotten older, he's gotten smarter. Now he finds his way around trouble," Engle said. "He makes better moves and decisions."
Consistency has been one of Culloden's trademarks.
In 67 Wheeling starts (53 in Grade AA and 14 in Grade A), Culloden has 20 wins, 11 seconds, 3 thirds and 14 fourths - a 71 percent mark on the pay sheet. In 83 career races (including Southland), he has 26 wins, 15 seconds, 4 thirds and 17 fourths - a 75 percent in the money finish.
"With the calibre of dogs racing at Wheeling, those are impressive numbers. He always tries," Engle said. "In most of his Grade A races, there's always a Grade AA dropper or two."
Owner Dean Miner said Culloden has become a fan favorite.
"I'm very proud that I attend the races everyday and Culloden is the kind of greyhound that endears me to the fans during his races as he always gives them 100 percent," Miner said. "I'm just glad Culloden doesn't have an agent because we'd be in contract negotiations. There would surely be a request for a doubling of the cookies that he presently receives."
Miner was quick to credit Engle and his staff for Culloden's success. He also tipped his hat to Flying Eagles for breeding and raising him.
"Tommy (Engle) and his staff have done a great job handling him and I thank them. Credit also goes to dam Flying Crestline for both Coal City and his brother, Culloden," Miner said. "Crestline is one of those magical mamas that just throws rocket after rocket. Of course additional credit goes to sire, Kiowa Sweet Trey, and Flying Eagles for raising them."
IN THE HOMESTRETCH:
HOT DOGS: C And C Kennel's CTW Perfecto Rio has four straight wins (C, B, A, AA) for trainer Patrick Bever. Kennel-mate Chronicle Trent has three straight Grade AA distance victories.
Wayne Ward Kennel's Kiowa WW Devera has two wins and three seconds in his last five Grade AA trips for trainer Ron Otto. Kennel-mate WW's Zin Ron has three victories in a row (C, B, A).
Charter Kennel's KB's Nantucket has back-to-back Grade AA wins for trainer Rodney Cooley.
Darren Henry Kennel's BD's Neo has two straight Grade AA victories for trainer Jeffery Tober.
A Ray Kennel's U Too Colie has back-to-back 3/8 wins (B, A) for trainer Joe Palmer.
WORLD CLASSIC: Packin The Heat and Abilene Abby, both who opened their careers at Wheeling, are rolling at the World Classic at Mardi Gras.
Heading into Thursday night's semifinal round, Packin The Heat leads all qualifiers with 36 points. Next in line are Yahoo Omar, 31 points; Yahoo Radar, 28 points; and Abilene Abby, 26 points.
Other greyhounds with Wheeling connections in the field include Flying Maroon, 18 points; WW's Cowboys, 12 points; WW Lonesome Dove, 11 points; and Kiowa Lazy John, 6 points.
The championship final will be Friday, March 25.
Pawloski can be reached at email@example.com