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Westminster dog show 2011: Top-ranked smooth fox terrier is a no-show, but another top winner steps in

February 15, 2011 |  2:39 pm

The Westminster dog show, for the fifth consecutive year, has been handicapped by Vegas odds-maker Johnny Avello (see his odds in PDF format) -- but America's top-ranked show dog in 2010 may have just thrown a wrench into the works.

Avello -- who lists odds on the breed, group, gender and age of the winning dog, but doesn't call out individual dogs by name -- gave the smooth fox terrier 6-to-1 odds to win Best in Show this year. It's a safe bet that he was banking on smooth fox terrier GCH J'Cobe Kemosabe Vigilante Justice, nicknamed Dodger, to represent his breed in the competition. Dodger's show career has included more than 100 Best in Show wins at dog shows around the country -- and he isn't even 4 yet.

He's a formidable competitor, for sure -- but he didn't show up. Dodger, whose co-owner Phillip Booth gave every indication the dog would compete at Westminster in an interview last week with Bloomberg News, was entered and even came to New York City, where the show takes place. But "[t]here was no reason to show him," Booth told Bloomberg on Tuesday, adding, "People don't realize how subjective [Westminster] is."

But don't throw Avello's smooth fox terrier prediction out the window just yet -- the eventual Best of Breed winner is another top-winning dog, GCH Slyfox Sneaks A Peek, who goes by Adam for short. Adam was the country's 10th-ranked show dog of all breeds in 2010 and won the terrier group at the prestigious AKC/Eukanuba National Championship dog show last year.

A smooth fox terrier named Ch Warren Remedy was Westminster's very first Best in Show winner and captured the title for three consecutive years, a record still unbeaten -- but no smooth fox terrier has won since. (Wire fox terriers have won a number of times in the intervening years, however.)

Malachy Also high on Avello's odds list are the Pekingese, with 7-to-1 odds (a Peke named GCH Palacegarden Malachy won the Toy group Monday night and was ranked the No. 2 show dog in the country in 2010); and the boxer with 8-to-1 odds (a boxer named GCH Winfall Brookwood Styled Dream was the No.4 dog last year and already won her breed competition Tuesday).

The Vegas expert also gave the Irish setter impressive 10-to-1 odds, but the Irish setter that ranked third among all show dogs last year failed to win her breed competition. The bearded collie has 15-to-1 odds; a beardie named GCH Tolkien Raintree Mister Baggins, who ranked ninth among all show dogs in 2010, won the herding group Monday night.

Avello correctly predicted that a Scottish terrier would win Best in Show last year. And in 2007, his first year making Westminster odds, he also picked the eventual winner, the English springer spaniel. But his odds haven't always been spot-on. In 2008, he picked the standard poodle as the likely winner; a 15-inch beagle named Uno wound up winning Best in Show. In 2009, the gaming expert mistakenly gave the best odds to the Brussels griffon; in a victory that shocked many dog show aficionados, a rare Sussex spaniel named Stump emerged from retirement to win top honors. The Sussex had been given 275-to-1 odds by Avello.

Explaining his method for picking winning dogs to the Wall Street Journal, Avello said: "I spend a lot of time on it. I rank all the dogs that I think are in the top 100 and then I go back and put odds on those dogs from top to bottom." We'll just have to wait until Tuesday night to find out how effective his process is.

RELATED POSTS ABOUT WESTMINSTER:
Westminster dog show 2011: Where we stand going into Day 2
Westminster dog show 2011: The contestants prepare [Photos]

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: Dodger the smooth fox terrier competes in a dog show. Despite being favored to win, he was a no-show at Westminster 2011. Credit: merfythcow via YouTube

Photo: Malachy, a top-ranked Pekingese, wins the toy group Monday night. The Pekingese was given 7-to-1 odds to win Best in Show by Johnny Avello. Credit: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press

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