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ST. PETERSBURG -- When Ben Awhile broke cleanly from the 4 box in the $85,000 Sprint Classic at Derby Lane on Saturday night, owner Dick Adler dug the tie out of his pocket.
He knew he would have his picture taken.
Ben Awhile, at 3-1 odds, chased down Cayman Went in the clubhouse turn and won the title in 30.47 seconds.
This is LaRosa Enterprises' first win in the Sprint Classic, the largest payout for the five-sixteenth mile race during the season.
"He almost never breaks first," Adler said. "That's his style. But he has a huge rush. Once he broke I was pretty happy.
"I was standing around the first turn and just knew we had it. There wasn't another dog who was going to catch him. I always keep my tie with me just in case, and once he was out in front I started fishing for it."
The payoff was $5.80, $4.60 and $3.20. More important to Adler, who leases Ben Awhile to La Rosa Enterprises, the winner of the stakes race received more than $25,000. Cayman Went, who ran out of the No. 5 box and finished second, earned more than $12,500 for the Bahama Mama kennel.
The prerace favorite was WW Unjinx Me, who went off at 7-5 odds. He was bumped around the first turn and broke through a crowd along the backstretch to finish fourth.
Because of the jostling, Ben Awhile and Cayman Went had clear paths to the rail. Narmada, who was in the No. 3 box, came from the back to finish third.
This is the second sprint title for Ben Awhile, who won the Tampa Speed Classic at Tampa Greyhound this summer. His father, Greys Flambeau, won the Sprint Classic at Derby Lane in 1997.
"We bought (Ben Awhile) for $6,000 at an auction," Adler said. "He looked good, but he didn't look like a worldbeater. We just thought he ran the rail well, and that's good here.
"Still, I didn't like his box (No. 4) for the race tonight. But it turned out to be okay the way he ran."
The 4-5 quiniela paid $14. The 4-5-3 trifecta with third-place Narmada paid $52.30. A season-best 4,311 attended. The next major stakes race at Derby Lane is the $100,000 Distance Classic on March 29.