ST. PETERSBURG - Cayman Went has done some impressive things at Derby Lane.
The fawn brindle male set track records with the best time in a 5/16th-mile race (30.02 seconds) and most wins in a season (36). He also posted the season's best time in a 3/8-mile race (37.19).
Saturday, Cayman Went tried to add to that list. He was vying to become the first greyhound in the track's 79-year history to win every stakes race he entered.
Cayman Went came up short, finishing third in the 78th St. Petersburg Derby, the signature race that concludes Derby Lane's live racing season.
Running out of the No. 7 box, Cayman Went was caught in a crowd at the beginning and held on to show. Pnj's Barr (out of the No. 1 box) beat Im Ur Sugardaddy in a photo finish to win in 37.84. The payout was $25.20 to win, $9.20 to place and $2.10 to show.
The field included seven dogs. Whistler's Cove was scratched after coming up lame during the semifinals Wednesday.
Despite not winning, Cayman Went's performance throughout the season helped Bahama Mama Kennel owners Francesca Field and Donna Marie Moore take first in the kennel standings by a comfortable margin.
The success of Cayman Went also showed at the gate. Though officials numbers were not available, Derby Lane president Vey Weaver said attendance was up this season. On-track wagering was not available.
"Having a big-name dog like Cayman Went always helps," Weaver said.
But Cayman Went's rise to stardom was not the only reason the track experienced a surge in popularity. Unlike last season, Derby Lane did not have any outbreaks of kennel cough or upper respiratory illness. In 2003, the track closed for two weeks after two dogs died.
Others boosts came from T.L.'s card room and a switch in live dates with Tampa Greyhound that added two weeks to Derby Lane's live racing season.
A new law eliminated the $10 per pot limit and replaced it with a $2 bet limit and a maximum of three raises per hand.
The poker room became even more popular with the addition of one-day No-Limit Texas Hold'em tournaments.
"We didn't have the sickness like we had last year, so we knew we were going to have a much better year," Weaver said. "The changes in the card room were a big plus."
When the live season at Derby Lane ends tonight, the card room will not shut down as it has in previous years.
Tampa Greyhound Track has transferred its poker rights to the St. Petersburg facility in a unique agreement.
The same state laws modified last year to allow increases in poker betting - helping bay area card rooms cash in on a national poker craze - now allow parimutuel facilities to essentially sell their licenses to other facilities within a 35-mile radius.
Tampa Greyhound and Derby Lane shifted their live dates last year, allowing Tampa to start earlier in the summer for its seasonal crowds and Derby Lane to take over in early December to accommodate Pinellas County's holiday tourists.
Those dates continue this year with Tampa Greyhound's live season running June 21 to Dec. 4.
Cayman Went will race at Tampa but not for long. He is scheduled to move to Wheeling, W.Va.