By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 5, 2003
ST. PETERSBURG -- After KL Bahama Boyd dashed past the finish line in Saturday's 78th Inaugural at Derby Lane, just about everyone milling around the kennel scratched their heads trying to figure out how the brindle male was able to come away with a victory.
Everyone except assistant trainer William Vazquez.
Vazquez predicted victory, even though his greyhound had finished no better than third in his last four starts and had dropped to a B grade before the race.
His prognostication turned out to be a good bet, though the greyhound went off at 25-1 odds.
Running out of the No. 2 post, KL Bahama Boyd showcased his speed and penchant for staying on the inside to win the five-sixteenths-mile stakes race in 31.08 seconds.
The Charter Kennel won about $500 plus earnings. The payout was $54 to win, $11.40 to place and $7.80 to show. The superfecta paid $27,090.
"He's a fast dog and had won six in a row before stumbling a bit in his last couple of starts," Vazquez said. "I just knew he was good enough to win."
KL Bahama Boyd's biggest challenge came from Narmada, the betting favorite.
Narmada, who won nine of 13 starts at Tampa and won the juvenile stakes race in November, drew the favorable inside No. 1 post. Trainer John Filipelli said the position favored the white brindle male.
But KL Bahama Boyd, head tilted, mouth agape, nudged past the field after the first turn and won by 2 lengths.
Narmada got past a calvary charge on the final turn to finish second.
"Always a bridesmaid," Filipelli said.
Ben Awhile, which had won 27 of 40 starts in Tampa and was a contender heading into the Inaugural, was nudged wide on the first turn and finished fifth.
The Inaugural was the first stakes of the season. Up next is the Puppy Preview.
Normally held opening weekend, the Puppy Preview was pushed back a week because opening night fell on a Thursday and the greyhounds would not have enough rest between starts.
The semifinals for the Puppy Preview are Wednesday. The top four from each race advance to the final on Saturday.
Solitary Cal is the favorite for the Preview. Lester Raines Kennel paid $55,000 for the greyhound at the Nationals in Abilene, Kan., $1,000 short of the auction record paid for Flying Train in 1991.
OTHER KEY DATES: Feb.8 -- $85,000 Sprint Classic; March1 -- Matinee Idol; March29 -- $100,000 Distance Classic; May3 -- Gold Trophy Juvenile; June7 -- T.L. Weaver Memorial; June28 (Closing night) -- Consolation Derby, St. Petersburg Derby.