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Kiowa Sweet Joe wins St. Pete Derby

Talentedmrripley is second, one length back; Boot Scootin Gal is fifth.

By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 30, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- All eyes were on Talentedmrripley on Saturday.

In the hours leading up to the 76th St. Petersburg Derby, a radio station from Tucson wanted to interview the owners of the fawn brindle male and fans and track owners from across the country flooded Derby Lane with calls.

But the 5,976 who attended closing night did not watch the most celebrated greyhound at the track win.

Kiowa Sweet Joe, running out of the No. 6 post, won the 3/8-mile stakes race in 37.64 seconds. Talentedmrripley finished one length behind as runner-up.

"He (Kiowa Sweet Joe) had room to run and he just put his head down and won," said Mike Carrigan, trainer for the dark brindle male.

Talentedmrripley, who had the No. 4 post, was forced wide early.

It was his sixth loss in 34 starts this season. One of Ripley's other losses came to Kiowa Sweet Trey, brother of Kiowa Sweet Joe, in the semifinals of the Sprint Classic.

Boot Scootin Gal, the black female who won the St. Petersburg Derby in 2000 and 2001 and was trying to become the first greyhound to win the stakes race three years in a row, finished fifth.

By losing, Talentedmrripley did not help the Bahama Mama kennel move ahead of Greymeadow kennel for the lead in wins. The kennels were tied at 239 wins on the season with five races left on Saturday. Talentedmrripley's father is Greys Statesman, a dog that belongs to the Greymeadow kennel.

The success of Talentedmrripley, who gained national recognition by winning the Rural Rube for the top sprinter in 2001, showed at the gate at Derby Lane.

The track drew an estimated 569,000 this season, up 17,000. The on-track wagering, though, was down a half-million from the year before.

"We are extremely pleased with the performance we had this season," said Vey Weaver, vice president and general manager of Derby Lane. "We didn't have high expectations this season because of 9/11 and the recession.

"Talentedmrripley made a great contribution to our success, but it wasn't just him. We have a lot of great dogs and this is the best track in the country."

Talentedmrripley and Boot Scootin Gal will race at Tampa Greyhound, which starts its season Monday with matinee and evening races. The track has two stakes races this week, the Inaugural stakes race on Monday and the Future Champions stakes race on Wednesday.

In Saturday's other races, Whytell Hopper of the Scheele kennel won the 72nd Consolation Derby, a stakes race featuring the top eight dogs who didn't qualify for the St. Petersburg Derby.

The fawn male went box-to-wire to win the 3/8-mile race in 37.75.

Courageous Nicky, a black male who won the Puppy Preview and the Gold Trophy Juvenile, was third in the seventh race, his final race at Derby Lane.

The greyhound is returning to his owners and will enter the Kansas Bred stakes race in Wichita this summer.

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