— If the doggie pundits have it correct, a terrier will once again take the Best in Show title at the 135th Westminster Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in New York on Tuesday.
According to Johnny Avello, the famous Las Vegas wizard of odds who has correctly predicted the winning breed for the past five years, a Smooth Fox Terrier is likely to take the top title in dogdom.
However, this year, there will be a further battle within that breed, as Smooth Fox Terrier contender Dodger will go leash-to-leash against a fellow Smooth Fox Terrier named Adam to take the breed title before the battle to win the terrier group even begins.
Avello has a Smooth Fox Terrier ranked at 6-1 to win, a Pekingese named Malachy listed at 7-1 and a Boxer named Scarlett ranked 8-1.
Terriers have won 46 Best In Show titles on Westminster’s famous green carpet, including last year’s winner Sadie, the Scottish Terrier who charmed the crowd with her self-assured strut. Smooth Fox Terriers have won on four previous occasions with the same dog, Champion Warren Remedy winning three successive years in 1907, 1908 and 1909.
This year, Westminster is also introducing six new breeds that have been officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. The versatile Boykin Spaniel joins the Sporting Group; the athletic Bluetick Coonhound and the courageous Redbone Coonhound join the Hound Group; the robust Cane Corso, an Italian Breed and the elegant Leonberger join the Working Group; and the agile Icelandic Sheepdog joins the Herding Group.
A total of 2,597 dogs representing 179 breeds from 49 states, Washington D.C. and Canada will compete. For the first time since 1998, New York leads California with the most entries.
This year, the highest number for one breed is the Rhodesian Ridgeback with 56 contenders. However, Avello has this breed ranked at 175-1 to win. Other top entries include Golden Retrievers (46), French Bulldogs (44), Vizslas (40), Australian Shepherds (39), Labrador Retrievers (38), German Shorthaired Pointers (36), Pugs (33), and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (31).
Avello, who is director of race and sports book operations at the Wynn Las Vegas in Las Vegas, is also known for his predictions for the outcome of the Super Bowl and "American Idol."
However, unlike these events, when it comes to betting on the Westminster winner, no money changes hands.
“It’s purely for entertainment,” Avello said. “But people have a lot of fun with it, because it is without doubt America’s premier dog sporting event and has a huge following.”