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Temecula rookie crushes foes in his debut as local hack stumbles into sports writing

Tim O'Leary

Special to the Valley News

A historic Temecula setting was the backdrop for a stunning victory when a homegrown rookie made his racing debut by crushing a pair of big city ringers at the Temecula Fall Wiener Fest.

The competitors – 125 of them – came from as far away as Georgia to vie for the top honors in various categories. An estimated 2,000 spectators, owners, trainers and vendors crammed the historic Vail Headquarters in Temecula for the Sunday, Nov. 5 spectacle.

Dust filled the air from the 53-foot dirt track as racers competed in qualifying heats in hopes of reaching the semi-finals and onto the finals. There were also side events to pump up the crowd as the organizers moved from one point of the event to another.

Some of the top athletes hit speeds of 17 mph. The average human can run at a speed of about 7.25 mph.

Music blasted from loudspeakers and the Assembly of the Buglers. There's still much debate over how that musical snippet, also known as First Call, came to mark the start of American horse races. Another iconic racing song was played as well. "Who Let The Dogs Out" was released in 2000 by Baha Men.

It seemed as though every dog and owner in Southern California was there. The place echoed with barks, growls, whines and other hound sounds. A young woman with nose rings and blue and purple hair sported a pair of dachshund tattoos on her arms. One of the tats had the name "Monty" inked beneath an elongated pup.

An older woman wore a black T-shirt that proclaimed: "It's all about the wiener."

Dog owner Andi Acosta, 24, of Los Angeles had three dachshunds at the event. One of them, 6-year-old Zeke, had just been edged out of the competition to determine which dog could rip a squeaky toy to shreds in the fastest time.

"I love them because they are the most loving dogs," Acosta said. "They're the most licky."

Dachshunds are the creation of German breeders who blended French, English and German hounds and terriers. The name is of German origin, and it means "badger dogs," as the breed was used to scent, chase and flush out burrowing animals.

The longest specimen to appear at this wiener fest was Queenie, a brown beauty that measured 39 inches from tail to snout.

Wiener fests have been held for several years by the Temecula Valley Dachshund Club, which meets monthly at the Redhawk Dog Park.

Portions of the entry fees, vendor fees and a raffle went to support dog rescue groups. The spring wiener fest is held at Wilson Creek Winery.

The tension was palpable as the final race unfolded on a picture-perfect day at the location that is designated as a National Historic Site and a segment of the Butterfield Overland National Trail.

Leo, a long-haired black doxie, finished as the puppy champion. Karli Tucker of Temecula entered her 10-month-old pup in his first event on a whim. Leo won one of his races in 3.01 seconds.

Leo vied against a pair of pros seeking to become the 2023 Fall Frolic Grand Champion. The odds favored the ringers, Harrison and Esri, who are owned by Chris and Denise Miesner of San Diego.

The Miesners, who live near Sea World, have a passel of "Celebrity Dachshunds" that they make available for movies and advertising. Their "actors" appeared in the 2013 Wiener Dog Nationals movie and its 2016 sequel, Wiener Dog Internationals, both starring Morgan Fairchild.

Miesner dogs have also appeared in commercials, print advertising and they periodically run in races and demonstrate how dachshunds were used as hunting hounds.

At Temecula's Fall Fest, Harrison snared the open field category honors and Esri bested an array of other challengers to become the event's senior champion. Leo burst out of the starting box at a blazing pace and managed to stay a step ahead of the pack to claim the top prize.

"It was fun," Karli said as she nuzzled her canine champion and scooped up his grand prize plaque and his $50 check.


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