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Winter Derby 's Fast Track

Updated: Mar 12, 2019

2019 SOMOS Winter Derby Jacksonville, Florida

Category: Competitions

Southern Most Sighthounds 2019 Winter Derby

SOMOS Winter Derby 2019
SOMOS Winter Derby 2019

On a weekend which brought fierce winds and snow across most of the country, in north-east Florida the weather was cool but things were about to get hot. Whippets and Greyhounds from across the country come to the yearly games held on the oval greyhound practice track complete with a "rail 'system" to draw the lure at high speed before of these very Bad Azz hounds.

You may have heard of Lure Coursing and we recently reported on the AKC National Championship and the ASFA Lure Coursing, or even Fast CAT. There is another form you may not be aware of still. In this format any race from human to car is familiar with, the course is not wide-open fields but oval tracks.

If you aren't the lead dog...
If you aren't the lead dog...

This weekend in Jacksonville was a National Oval Track Racing Association (NOTRA) two day event with races on the full oval track once used for training professional greyhounds. Though NOTRA recognizes many Sighthound (or Gazehound) breeds, the SOMOS Winter Derby is focused on Whippets and Greyhounds..

The National Oval Track Racing Association (NOTRA) was formed in 1992 to encourage within each breed of registered Sighthound under a uniformly high standard of competitive oval racing. - NOTRA

Southern Most Sighthounds (SOMOS)

Penny Bolt

Penny Bolt

Penny has run the Southern Most Sighthounds (SOMOS) club as Race Secretary for fifteen years. Recently, the number of hounds racing has decreased and cause for concern. This is understandable and sad. The truth of what I have witnessed with the sport, is one of a great community and a sport the dogs absolutely love.

SOMOS race season runs in the cooler Florida months from October to March. Penny's first responsibility at each one is to ensure each dog is fit and ready to run. Each dog is evaluated and each race observed by several people to see to the safety of the dogs. With the Derby in its either year and with this amazing track to run on the event runs smooth and rewards all with a great weekend and very happy pups. Non judgmental, no judges just speed of dog

The Right Stuff

Over and again when we asked this question, the answer was “Come out and watch”, and this is an exceptional spectator sport. The races are exciting, but the community is very friendly and eager to tell you about their own dogs too.

If your dog chases anything that moves?

They might be a sighthound…

In Florida we are lucky to have two active clubs providing this game for you and your hounds. This weekends event was hosted by the senior and long active Southern Most Sighthounds (SOMOS), but there is also the Central Florida Sighthound Racing Club (CFSRC) we featured before.

Unlike most canine competition, there are no Judges in "Lure" Racing. Breeds race against their own breeds in competition of first across the line wins. The result is a fast-moving series of races.

All that being said, the overwhelming interest was in the entertainment for both the dogs and humans in this very social gathering.

“It’s the most fun your dog will ever have” - Jules Vermeulen

If you have a keen sighthound, bring them out. Even the slowest hound out there loves it. They usually race most of their lives.

Your Hound Needs this Game

With the recent changes in Florida laws about to send thousands of working Greyhounds into early retirement, as with any highly skilled professional an over night transition to a sedentary life as a pet is fraught with potential risks. To the hounds, this is a game., and a game they were literally bred to play.

With the expected population of "retired" greyhounds and increasing popularity of breeds like Miniature Greyhounds to Besenji and Borsoi, the National Oval Track Racing Association (NOTRA), Large Gazehound Racing Association(LGRA) and Whippet racing Association (WRA) sports offer a needed outlet for these breeds. The benefits to the dogs health, both mentally and physically and strong bonds it nurtures with owners is reason for any sighthound family to want to learn more and come play too.

No highway long enough

"Eggnog" breaks out
"Eggnog" breaks out

Julie Black drove twelve hours from Lebanon, Ohio with her own Whippet Hero, bringing along her friend Mary Magee's pup and "Hero's" sister,"Eggnog" and Sonya Sam's pup "Titan". Julie had Corgi's growing up but while in college wanted a dog that could live happily in an apartment, but also be an active sporting dog. She found the Whippet to be the perfect match.

"Mental and Physical stimulation helps the dog be a much healthier dog and their quality of life just goes through the roof" - Julie Black

Working in the veterinary profession and as a adoption volunteer, she has seen the great results of the games for dogs with her own eyes.

Wrapping up

There are more dog owners today than ever, but their are also record number of dogs that either needs homes or provide more stress than joy to owners do to lack of stimulation. Fixing much of this is really as simple as taking the first step out of your routine, following the links below to learn a bit more and this site for where, when and how to get more active with your pup. The joy you will experience is seeing your dog play the game they were born to play and attitude adjustment it results in can seem miraculous. The amateur dog racing clubs of Florida are truly grass roots, extremely friendly and eager to bring all of your dogs to a track to play too!


Two cool days in the Florida Winter Heat up as the Greyhounds and Whippets descended on the training oval track in Jacksonville, Florida for the 2019 SOMOS Winter Derby. See the excitement or relive this weekend of fun, friends and very happy Bad Azz Dogz.

SOMOS 2019 Winter Derby Saturday - Sunday 9th – 10th February 2019


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