— Who is going to win the Best in Show title at the 133rd Westminster Dog Show?
Right now, this is undoubtedly the big question being asked by dog show enthusiasts at water coolers around the country.
Last year, canine pundits predicted that 2008 was going to be The Year of the Poodle. Then along came a spunky little Beagle named Uno, who brought the crowd to its feet in a standing ovation at Madison Square Garden, when he was crowned Best in Show.
This year, John Avello, Las Vegas’ famous Wizard of Odds, has ranked a Brussels Griffon at 10-1 to win the most coveted title in dogdom.
Avello, who is the director of race and sports book operations at the Wynn hotels, has been posting the odds on this famous dog show since 2007.
“Even though it’s purely for entertainment and no money changes hands, people love the idea and have a lot of fun with it,” Avello said. “I’ve even had hotel guests saying that if they couldn’t make it to Madison Square Garden to see the event live, the sports book is the next best place to be. It’s America’s premier dog-sporting event and has a huge following generating a lot of camaraderie.”
Avello has listed the following dog breeds as most likely to win.
According to David Frei, Communications Director for the Westminster Kennel Club, the field is really wide open.
“I really don’t know,” he said. “The field is definitely wide open. However, I certainly concur with Avello’s lineup.”
In terms of Westminster tradition, the top five dogs in each breed are invited to take part in the show. One of the five Brussels Griffon to receive an invitation was Lincoln, Champion Cilleine Masquerade, who placed second in the Toy Group last year. He was also named Best of Breed at the AKC Dog Show in Long Beach, Calif., at the end of last year.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi Carley, Champion Coventry Vanity Fair, who also took top honors in her breed in the Herding group at the same AKC Dog Show, is also on the Westminster invitation list.
Last year, when Uno went from underdog to top dog, he also became the first Beagle ever to win the Best in Show title.
Frei points out that a Brussels Griffon has never won in the dog show’s history. Neither has an Affenpinscher.
This year’s Best in Show judge, Sari Brewster Tietjen, is a toy dog person, but this is not likely to sway her decision.
“First a dog has to win its breed and its group,” Frei said. “Then from the handler’s standpoint, you can only hope that your dog has its moment of divine inspiration during the two minutes the judge is actually looking at it.”
Uno got it right. He charmed the judge from the moment he stepped on to the green carpet.
As America’s current top dog, Uno has really had a charmed year. He was on the Snoopy float during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, and even went to the White House and played on the lawn with President and Mrs. Bush.
In the past year, the dog’s public engagements have rivaled any grueling celebrity schedule. People lined up for eight hours in the hot California sun when the word got out that he was going to meet Snoopy, the world’s other most famous beagle, at the Knott’s Berry Farm theme park. Baseball enthusiasts cheered and roared their approval when he “threw” the first pitch at a Brewers-Reds game and again when the Cardinals played the Braves.
Due to his celebrity status, Uno was upgraded from “carrier class” to his own seat on American Midwest Airlines. And as he flew around the country with Frei as his chaperone, he checked in with tickets that listed him as “Uno Frei.”
According to Jerry Grymek, the doggie concierge at the Hotel Pennsylvania that plays host to many of the participants during the show, this year’s contestants are all vying to stay in room 2013, the room Uno occupied last year.
This year 170 breeds and varieties will walk the green carpet at Madison Square Garden on Monday and Tuesday. The lineup includes a new breed, the Dogue de Bordeaux that is also known as the French Mastiff. The breed is believed to have originated in France more than 600 years ago and Avello currently has it ranked at 1,000-1.