October 1st held what some would call the Breeders’ Cup of greyhound racing: Southland’s Festival of Stakes, where nine stakes races and nine consolation races took place for a full day event of $1.2 million in purses. Members of our social media team were onsite during the event and witnessed many fantastic races. This is the first installment in our series of reports from Southland’s Festival of Stakes.
The Darby Henry Male Sprint Championship was the final stakes race of the Festival of Stakes, taking place in race 18. Boc’s Doubleshot, from Bussmann Balakas, LLC kennel, took the big W. As the excitement and the dirt from the track settled, we took a moment to congratulate Krissy Bussmann on their amazing win and talk about her experience working in the greyhound industry.
Bussmann Balakas, LLC is owned by Krissy’s mother, Paula Bussmann. The family was in the horse racing business before getting involved in the greyhound racing industry.
“Several of my mom’s friends got into the dog racing and they said, ‘Paula, you will love it’ and she fell in love with it. I want to say she’s been here I guess 25-26 years.”
This makes Bussmann Balakas, LLC the oldest kennel still racing with Southland Greyhound Park. When asked what Krissy’s most memorable greyhound was to come through their kennel, Krissy said that it had to be the one and only Boc’s Tony Romo.
“Boc’s Tony Romo is probably the most amazing greyhound I have ever had the privilege of running. The dog is just amazing.”
Amazing indeed. Boc’s Tony Romo took first in the 2015 Bluffs Run Open and the 2016 Southland Hound Madness Championship. He finished second in Bluffs Run’s 3/8ths Derby in 2015 and was a 2015 Bluffs Run Secretary’s Choice Stake finalist. Boc’s Tony Romo broke his leg in April of this year, but returned to racing at Southland in July, where he has been trying to find his form again. Even though Boc’s Tony Romo took eighth in the Festival of Stakes Ansel Styles Marathon Consolation, you can see his old self shine through in some of his other races since his return.
Thinking about fantastic greyhound athletes, like Boc’s Tony Romo, we spoke about bloodlines with Krissy and asked her what they look for when breeding. She mentioned that, of course, a lot of breeding has to do with the bloodlines. Breeders want the dogs that are proven and can run well. For Krissy, though, it’s not just about the bloodlines.
“Since I’m here in the kennel, there are several dogs that I’ve ran here that there is no way that I would not breed them… L’s Shax is definitely out of the Penske line that I would want to breed because I had the hands on, the heart, you know. I know his heart, I know his personality, just determination for running.”
When you’re done breeding and you have your new pups, the next step is to begin training them for racing. Having never been involved with the training process, we wondered whether the long distance pups and the short distance pups were trained differently to accommodate their different length preferences. Krissy told us that there isn’t much of a difference in regard to training for different distances. Instead, she said that it’s a matter of knowing which lengths will be best for each dog.
“What you have to do is have an eye for it because a dog that’s going to be really good in the distance is going to look really bad in the 583 and if you don’t have that eye, and knowledge to try them in the distance, you could be giving away a gold mine.”
This makes sense since the long distance racers would need to pace themselves a lot more than the sprinters. Krissy mentioned that you have to give each dog the opportunity to shine and that patience is key when training these amazing athletes.
We will see Boc’s Doubleshot trying to add another stakes title to his resume in the Kings Vs. Queens Stake at Southland Park tonight. The top four finishers from both the Darby Henry Male Sprint Championship and the Darby Henry Female Sprint Championship will battle it out for the title and an invitation to the Daytona 550. Will it be a King or Queen who earns the crown? Find out tonight in race 11 of the evening card!
Stay tuned for more interviews and articles on our experience at the Festival of Stakes! We would like to thank Krissy Bussmann for speaking with us and Southland Greyhound Park for having us at their Festival of Stakes event. We had a greyt experience!