2014 Greyhound Hall of Fame Inductee
Being a three-time All-American is a sure indication that a greyhound has enjoyed a remarkably long and successful career. It also means the champ has likely traveled to many different venues and has enjoyed prosperity in a number of different stake events.
Members of this elite three-time All-America club have included Hall Of Famers Miss Whirl, Westy Whizzer, L.L.’s Doug and Perceive.
Now joining this select group as the latest canine inductee into the Greyhound Hall Of Fame is the talented and durable sprinter—EA’s Itzaboy.
Itzaboy was one of the last of the sport’s “traveling stars,” toward the end of the great golden age when the game still was blessed with numerous major sprint stakes at a variety of different tracks around the country. He traveled so well and won so frequently, that EA’s Itzaboy’s name landed on the AGTOA All-America teams of 2002, 2003 and 2004. No greyhound has turned in that “hat trick” since the Itzaboy era.
Owned by Fred Fulchino, EA’s Itzaboy was a 67-lb. red son of Oswald Cobblepot-San Tan Bomber whelped July 2000. As a rookie sensation in 2002, he captured 21 of 33 races at the tough Lincoln track. His first big stake win came in that year’s $100,000 Commissioners Cup at Wheeling. He went on to win the New Hampshire Sweepstakes at Hinsdale and the Fred Cairone Memorial Countdown, going undefeated throughout that Lincoln stake. Three stake wins at three different tracks were more than enough to vault him onto his first All-America team in 2002.
As it turned out, “Joey”—as he was affectionately called by his team—was just getting started. In 2003, he took on—and defeated—the country’ very best sprinters in the Hollywood World Classic.
The World Classic was Itzaboy’s fourth stake win at four different tracks. While at Hollywood he also set a new track record of 29.88 seconds.
Itzaboy’s next big triumph came in the $75,000 Seabrook Great Race in New Hampshire. He’d made the finals of the Great Race in 2002, but now in his prime, Itzaboy dominated the event in ’03, going undefeated through the stake.
This would be the only time any greyhound captured the World Classic and the Great Greyhound Racing in the same year. Itzaboy followed that unprecedented double with a repeat victory in the New Hampshire Sweepstakes. He also scored other special stake wins at Lincoln that season, including the 5/16 Kennel Medley and the Inaugural. He also finished fourth in the Wheeling Commissioners Cup while trying to defend his title from 2002. In two years of racing, Itzaboy, who’d won at five different tracks in 2003, now boasted seven stake wins; remarkably, these were captured at five different racetracks in four different states.
For his feats, EA’s Itzaboy was not only named Captain of the 2003 All-America team, but he also was named the 2003 NGA Rural Rube Award recipient as the sport’s best sprinter.
At this point, few could imagine that the aging veteran’s greatest feat still lay ahead. This one last notch in his collar would win him a third All-America award, and rank him as one of the sport’s all-time greatest and most durable racers.
It happened on Mar. 12, 2004, at Hollywood Greyhound Park. Here was EA’s Itzaboy, nearing his 4th birthday, attempting to successfully defend his World Classic title. Well past his prime, Joey, three races earlier, he’d re-set the Hollywood track record with a 29.78 performance. In the final, despite an unusually mediocre break, Itzaboy would give the performance of his career. He couldn’t have picked a better time to draw on his experience and racing savvy to avoid trouble, pick the right holes at the right time, then put on a the type of stretch drive he rarely needed throughout his long and distinguished career. His win in this stake at the sunset of his career sealed his own immortality, as well as his claim on being one of the all-time greats of the game.
During the awards ceremony at the Hall Of Fame in Abilene a month later, Fred Fulchino—upon picking up both the All-America captaincy and Rural Rube Awards from the year before—emotionally announced that EA’s Itzaboy was being officially retired.
Joey spent the last 9 years of his life on the Fulchino Farm in Pomfret Center, Ct. He passed away on Mar. 13, 2013—just shy of his 13th birthday, and exactly 9 years and a day after his momentous second World Classic win at Hollywood. As the newest canine inductee into the Greyhound Hall Of Fame, EA’s Itzaboy’s name will live on in the pages of history of our great sport. Congratulations to EA’s Itzaboy and the Fulchino family!