THE incredible come-from-behind victory by Fantastic Dotty to maintain her unbeaten record in the final of the Dapto Maiden Classic (Group 3) came on the back of two successive track record runs over the 520 metres trip at the South Coast course.
At her first official race start, on August 13, in a heat of the long-established Maiden Classic, Fantastic Dotty scored by 15 and a half lengths in 29.43, eclipsing the previous mark of 29.44 held by Double Twist.
She then came out a week later and repeated the dose, winning her semi-final by just over 12 lengths and lowering her own track record by 9/100ths to 29.34.
While there are no official records kept anywhere, to my knowledge, which can determine just how many times greyhounds have set new track figures at their first two race starts, I am aware of only two similar occurrences in the history of the sport.
The first of these took place in late 1960 when Queensland sprinter Spotted Lightning (Magic Lightning x Flighty Moon) scored by 10 lengths at his first start, running up the 290 yards of the Capalaba straight in 15.0 to set a new track record.
Incredibly, Spotted Lightning then went down to Tweed Heads to contest the Tweed River Thousand series over 434 yards and set a new track record in his heat and again in his semi-final, before equalling his own time in the final. Spotted Lightning had thus started four times for four track record victories.
Spotted Lightning went on to race just 15 times for 12 wins, including the Commonwealth Invitation Challenge and Spring Championship at Harold Park, NSW Championship at Cessnock and July Cup at Grafton.
The second greyhound to have established two track records at successive starts was Go Cub (Benjamin John x Buttercup Lady) in early 1980. The fawn dog won his first race start at Gunnedah over 576 metres by 25 lengths in a new record time of 33.64. He then travelled to Bathurst and set new figures there for 507 metres.
In an amazing coincidence, Go Cub could trace his ancestry back to Spotted Lightning, who appears on both his sire and dam side four generations back. Indeed, his maternal grandsire, Arctic Fire, broke the long-standing 457 metres track record at Harold Park at only his third race start, and was promptly retired to stud.
There have been a number of greyhounds that have set track records at their first race start over the years.
One of the most recent, of course, was Shakey Jakey, who scored by 20 lengths over 520 metres at Wentworth Park on April 6 last year to set new figures of 29.07.
In June 2007, Lucky Fina set a new time standard for 347 metres at Gunnedah, running 19.16 in winning by five lengths. Lucky Fina went on to win 22 of 48 career starts.
A year earlier, Prang smashed the Bendigo 430 metres record in winning first-up by almost 15 lengths in 23.76.
In October 1988, Carnival Boy became the first greyhound to set new figures for the sprint journey at Dapto at a first start when he sped over the-then 507 metres trip in 29.29.
It is rare nowadays to see distance races for maidens, but especially in Victoria in the 1960s and 1970s this was not so. Rod Deakin was acclaimed as one of the great breeders of Australian history and in 1973 two of his future top-line stayers broke tracks records at their first start. Corcoran won over 720 metres at Shepparton on 13 September by 15 lengths and ran 43.00 to set a new record. His kennelmate Allocate reduced this time to 42.56 on 1 November, scoring by 17 lengths on debut.
Back in November 1966 the great trainer Billy Fletcher produced Joe Moss and Mister Moss in maiden races over 540 yards (494 metres) at Lithgow on the same day. Both won in 29.5 to equal the track record, Joe Moss by 15 lengths and Mister Moss by 20 lengths. The latter would go on and win the 1967 National Derby and win 10 of 17 starts, being placed in the other seven.
Mister Moss would sire a brilliant Victorian sprinter named Gerard The Gent, who, in 1971, broke the Ballarat track record at his first start and then went on to win the Melbourne Cup.
Back in 1974 a sprinter named Laurie’s Joy annexed the Lawnton 457 metres track record, running 27.65 to clip an incredible 23/100ths off the previous mark. Three generations back in Laurie’s Joy’s maternal pedigree is the grand producer Yullulla, who was also the dam of the ill-starred Gogodalla.
Gogodalla set a new track record at his first race start in December 1955, winning up the straight at Richmond. Sadly, the brilliant puppy lost an eye after a bout of hepatitis, but did come back and race another eight times for four wins, a second and a third (in the Queensland Cup) before being sold to the United States to stand at stud.
Given the generally successful careers of those mentioned above, it would seem Fantastic Dotty is well on the way to carving out a similarly productive regime, both on the track and in the breeding barn.