In this corner, JJ Doc Richard, the reigning king of greyhoun
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) _ In this corner, JJ Doc Richard, the reigning king of greyhound racing, with a 37-race winning streak.
And in this corner, Pat C Rendezvous, the dethroned champ who held the previous world record of 36 victories in a row.
Yes, the usually obscure world of greyhound racing is starting to take on a boxing-like tone. Challenges issued. Challenges rebuffed. Both sides trying to make, well, excuse the pun, doggie points for their canine.
Off the track, JJ Doc Richard and Pat C Rendezvous sound like they would get along just fine. Both have a definite sweet tooth _ the Doctor woofs down birthday cake and vanilla wafers, Pat C craves marshmallows _ and both revel in the adulation of their fans.
But it doesn’t look like they’ll be getting together any time soon. Too bad, because that would be quite a stare-down and pre-race news conference. ``Ruff, ruff, ruff,″ Pat C might bellow. ``Grrrrr,″ the Doctor could respond.
Pat C, known as Rhonda to close friends, is willing to race Doc Richard any time, any place, any length, her spokespeople say. They feel like the Doctor, a specialist at 5-16 of a mile, built his mark against inferior competition at Mobile Greyhound Park, a financially struggling track on the Alabama coast.
(Pat C, by the way, was unavailable for comment).
``A lot of us are skeptical about the way it was run,″ said Pat C trainer Jay Rangel, defending the honor of the pooch who set the record last year running 3-8 of a mile at Palm Beach Kennel Club in south Florida.
``Shoot, that dog (Doc Richard) never met up with the other real good dog there. Shoot, when Rhonda was on her streak here, she ran against the best night in and night out. People put dogs in there trying to beat her.″
Those might sound like fighting words, but Doc Richard isn’t ready to put his championship collar on the line any time soon. He’s swaggering around the kennel, knowing he can pick and choose his competition.
``Pat C Rendezvous is the ex-champion, we are the reigning champion,″ said Jack Boyd, the Doctor’s owner. ``Until we lose a race, we’re not interested in running a two-dog race. That wouldn’t prove anything.
``I would like to extend the record as far as possible to make it more difficult for someone to break.″
Pat C’s supporters find that concept particularly galling, since their dog’s winning streak was broken in an invitational race against top-level competition. ``We could have done the same thing here and she would have gone on winning forever,″ Rangel insisted.
JJ Doc Richard set the record Monday night, jumping out of the box with his trademark quick start and cruising to a 6 1/2-length victory. The red-haired, 3-year-old canine was presented with a trophy, a new blanket and a dozen roses, then made the rounds with his fans in the clubhouse with the crowd of 1,760 _ about twice the usual Monday night turnout despite a rainy evening.
``We walked him in the crowd and let the people pet him and talk to him,″ said Martha Freeze, Doc Richard’s trainer. ``He eats that up. He likes the attention.″
During his streak, JJ Doc Richard has yet to meet arch-rival All All Stacy, who is the only other dog at the Mobile track who can keep pace with the Doctor, observers say.
``That taints it a little bit,″ said Gary Guccione, executive director of the National Greyhound Association in Abilene, Kan. ``It would have been nice if they would have gone ahead and raced him against the best on the grounds.″
That’s just the luck of the draw, said Len Motykiewicz, director of racing for Mobile Greyhound Park.
``He did run against (All All Stacy) four times last year, and he beat it four times,″ Motykiewicz said. ``Somewhere down the line, they’ll probably meet again. ... There’s been no effort to make easy races and no effort to make hard races. He just ran in the normal draw of the races.″
Pat Collins, owner of Pat C, conceded that a 37-race winning streak is a major accomplishment, no matter the quality of opposition. JJ Doc Richard posted the first victory on Nov. 14 and usually ran twice a week.
``It takes an awful good dog to win 37 races in row, 30 races in a row _ even five races in a row,″ Collins said. ``He’s got to be an extremely fast greyhound.″
And with the last word is Art Laughlin, general manager of Palm Beach track and a big Pat C fan. He casts his vote in that dream match race with ... the Doctor.
``Pat C Rendezvous is nowhere near where she was last year,″ Laughlin said. ``I do think their dog would be too tough for Pat C at this point.″