No Chaser: Bourbon Tops Whiskey in Westminster Whippet Upset

February 11, 2019 Updated: February 11, 2019

NEW YORK—Straight up, this was a Westminster Kennel Club surprise: Bourbon over Whiskey.

A big-winning whippet was bounced from America’s top pooch pageant Monday — knocked off, in fact, by his own sister.

Whiskey had won the prized National Dog Show televised on Thanksgiving Day and the prominent AKC event shown on New Year’s Day. But his bid for a Triple Crown of dogdom ended when he was topped by littermate Bourbon in the breed judging.

Whippet Bourbon
Whippet Bourbon looks at her handler in the Best of Breed event, at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York,on Feb. 11, 2019.(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

“She’s the new kid on the block,” handler Cheslie Pickett Smithey said.

Bourbon advanced to the hound group competition at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. The toy, herding and nonsporting champ also will compete — Biggie the pug, who had fans chanting his name at the Garden last year, advanced to the evening session.

Cheslie Pickett Smithey, runs with her Whippet named Bourbon
Cheslie Pickett Smithey, runs with her Whippet named Bourbon, as they compete in the Best of Breed event at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York, on Feb. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

More than 2,800 dogs in 203 breeds and varieties were entered. The best in show will be picked Tuesday.

An Old English sheepdog name Bugaboo's Let It Go
An Old English sheepdog name Bugaboo’s Let It Go Blu Mtn gets her fur brushed during the Best of Breed event at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York, on Feb. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

For Pickett Smithey, the win was a bit bittersweet. She teared up talking about the result because she and her husband, Justin Smithey of Sugar Valley, Georgia, co-own both dogs. He guided Whiskey in the ring.

“I just hate beating Whiskey,” she said.

Last year, Whiskey won the breed at Westminster, and Bourbon was awarded best of opposite sex. This time, the 3-year-olds switched places.

“We’re as proud as we can get,” he said.

Whiskey wasn’t sour after the upset. The littermates are “best buds,” Cheslie said, and nuzzled outside the ring when it was over.

Whippets are similar to greyhounds, only smaller. They’re known for their tremendous running speed, but Bourbon was completely under control. She was more mesmerized by the meat treats Cheslie fastened to her arm with a rubberband.

At one point, she sensed Bourbon needed a little extra.

“Go get me the fish,” she told an assistant from inside the ring.

This year’s Westminster features two new breeds, the grand basset griffon Vendeen (grahnd bah-SAY’ grih-FAHN’ vahn-DAY’-ahn) and the Nederlandse kooikerhondje (NAY’-dehr-lahn-seh KOY’-kehr-hahnd-jeh).

Biggie the pug poses for photos at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
Biggie the pug poses for photos at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York, on Feb. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Nat Castaneda)

There were 57 golden retrievers entered, but just one sloughi — who was a no-show.

By Ben Walker

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