By DON JENSEN, Times Staff Writer
Published September 17, 2005
ST. PETERSBURG - The sizzle has been put into the stakes at Derby Lane.
As the St. Petersburg greyhound track opened its 81st racing season Monday, industry talk has focused on the inaugural Derby Lane Million, a race that will be the world's richest ever for dogs.
"It will be phenomenal," Derby Lane media manager Vera Filipelli said. "It will be the biggest event in the history of greyhound racing at the nation's most historic track."
Details of the 550-yard race should be announced in late October, Filipelli said. Derby Lane Million qualifying will begin Feb.11 with the final on March4.
This will be Derby Lane's longest season to date. The 291-day meet runs through June30 with daily racing except for Christmas. There will be nine weekly performances with nightly races Monday through Saturday and matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Schooling will be Monday and Thursday evenings.
The facility also offers simulcast wagering and poker daily. The Derby Club opens Oct.21.
Derby Lane has resurfaced its racing strip with the clubhouse turn bank lowered 6 inches. All 21 kennels have returned, including two-time defending champion Bahama Mama . The track's stakes series began Friday with the St. Petersburg Puppy Preview.
Tonight, Joe Hearns of Floyd & Porter Kennel goes for his eighth straight win in the 81st annual St. Petersburg Inaugural. Joe Hearns closed the Tampa Greyhound Track meet with six victories in a row to take the Tampa win title with 12 in 23 starts. He won his first Derby Lane start Wednesday.
Joe Hearns drew the No.8 post position for the 550-yard Inaugural. The rest of the field in post position order: Mister Wentz (Scheele Kennel), Top Cat Orson (Capabal), Maryville Cagney (Cal Holland), Whistler's Stud (C&C), Ten Pound Test (Lester Raines), Sas Mason Jar (Thorne/Herron) and Bob's Spider (LaRosa Enterprises).
The Inaugural will be the 10th race with post time at 9:58 p.m. Greys Statesman bobbleheads will be given to the first 2,000 fans tonight.
TAMPA LEADERS: LaRosa and McAllister Kennels shared the Tampa kennel title with 127 wins apiece. LaRosa made 771 starts to McAllister's 823. The best times were recorded by J's Habanero of Brumage/Filipelli (37.62 seconds at 660 yards) and Jr's Flashy of Campbell Greyhound Racing (30.21 seconds at 550 yards). LaRosa and Alderson Kennel tied for most stakes wins with two apiece. Tampa's all-source handle for its 126-performance meet was $40,167,566 ($318,790 average) and attendance was 74,117 (588 average).