Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show: Scottish terrier Sadie is the odds-on favorite to win
Moments later, Sadie was on her way at Westminster. The monster favorite breezed past four would-be rivals Tuesday afternoon and walked off as the best Scottish terrier at Madison Square Garden.
If the early win was a lock, it was hard to tell by watching Rangel.
He hid Sadie behind a black curtain before entering the ring, away from photographers eager to snap her picture and shielded from curious fans who might accidentally step on her paws. Two assistants hovered over Sadie, brushing her coat to assure a perfect appearance.
Rangel constantly wiped his brow while waiting to be judged. After the win, he grabbed a napkin from a concession stand to towel off.
"Expectations? Never expectations," Rangel said. "If you think that way, you get nervous and in trouble."
Judge Elliott Weiss was set to make his pick as best in show shortly before 11 p.m. Tuesday. He's already seen Sadie -- he chose her as the winner of an event in North Carolina last September.
The terrier, sporting and working were to be decided shortly before Weiss stepped into the ring. Among the top contenders was a precious golden retriever named Treasure. Always a popular breed in this country, a golden has never won Westminster.
Four dogs secured their spots Monday night -- a whippet called Chanel who can run 35 mph, a fancy toy white poodle named Walker, a French bulldog that became the first of its breed to win Westminster and a puli that's been the best herding dog for two straight years.
The 134th Westminster Kennel Club event drew 2,500 dogs from 173 breeds and varieties and is regarded as the nation's most prestigious show.
Sadie has already won the two other big U.S. canine competitions, the National Dog Show in suburban Philadelphia before Thanksgiving and the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in December.
The 4-year-old Scottie with the champion's name Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot has earned 111 best in show ribbons and was poised to become dogdom's first Triple Crown winner. Rangel said he'd eased off Sadie's schedule as the trip to New York approached.
"She's taking a little rest. Maybe too long," Rangel said. "She wanted to get in there today. She was full of herself."
Then again, maybe Sadie had a reason for being in a hurry.
"She likes to watch TV," he said. "We have dinner together at the hotel and watch 'Animal Planet.' "
-- Associated Press
Photo: Gabriel Rangel shows Sadie to a win in her breed competition on Tuesday. Credit: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press