The Arkansas Greyhound Kennel Association (AGKA) may be a small group, but they are a mighty one. The 17 kennels that make up the association that fuels the live racing side of the top paying Southland Greyhound Park–the largest man-made attraction in Crittenden County, follows the principle of “sharing the wealth.” The association is committed to the communities, state and the sport of greyhound racing in Arkansas and each year their sharing has grown.
Last year the association wrote checks for over $80,000 to charities for school supplies, AR Special Olympics, food banks, 4-H, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and funded scholarships for Mid South Community College to name a few.
The biggest event funded by the association is the Paws for a Cause charity night. Last year 15 groups were represented that came to the races to compete for the money that awarded Steudlein Learning Center $10,000 for their charity. The group participated in the previous three years earning an additional $9,000 for the Learning Center. Other charities include the well-known Susan G. Komen and Ronald McDonald House for children.
In December the kennel association invested in cyber real estate on the web and extended their reach with various social media addresses via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and recently added Pinterest and Integra to the mix in hopes they will reach a following of like-minded greyhound enthusiasts to share racing stories, track moments and their athletes into retirement. In this writer’s eyes there is no photo more beautiful than a racing greyhound both on and off-track.
In the past four years the association has increased their yearly charity donations from $46,000 to last year’s $80,000 and has now contributed a total exceeding $238,000. The group has their sights set on even higher contributions in 2016. The group is united in knowing that the charity groups are cornerstones in their respected communities. The charity contributions measured in money do not compare to the additional volunteer hours that association members and employees contribute at animal shelters, schools and youth sports teams to name a few of their satisfying commitments.
The year closed out at Southland with the Lester Raines kennel taking top honors. Unlike some tracks that rank their kennel standings by most wins, Southland standings are ranked by purse money and Raines topped the charts for a second year in a row. The kennel trained by Ken Lesperance also housed the co-win leader Flying Fired Up that, like his kennel mate Chasmo’s Dutch, earned a post in United Greyhound’s second annual Daytona 550 invitational. Fired Up and T And T Kennel’s Keeper Pocket tied with 22 wins in 2015.
The Daytona 550 invitation is sponsored by Bet America and was held Jan. 23. The Daytona track is a sister track to Southland and is owned by the Delaware North Companies, which marked their 100th anniversary in 2015.
Legg Kennel closed out 2015 scoring the last win of the year with KL’s Sean, a son of former Southland star Djays Octane and Shininsobrightly. They also kicked off the New Year by winning the first race on Jan. 1 with RJ’s Big Lue, another Octane-fueled Legg Kennel winner for trainer John Venuto.
The kennels at Southland look forward to the upcoming year with highlights that include the annual kennel and trainer awards slated for March 7. The annual Festival Of Stakes will be held on a Saturday matinee this year and the earnings have been boosted to a $1M stakes format. The Oct. 1 event will precede the annual NGA week-long Fall Nationals beginning Oct. 10 in Abilene, KS.
The association encourages all to spread the word regarding the website at arkansasgreyhoundkennelassociation. com and tweet along @pinaclepups. Stories, photos and feedback is highly welcome at [email protected] gmail.com