D'Arcy's pup set to take on Million boys

Greys Calibrator is only female to advance through five qualifying rounds to final.

Published March 4, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG - When Jack and Mary Butler traveled to West Virginia to watch one of their greyhounds race at Wheeling Downs, someone asked if they had other pups at their Abilene, Kan., farm that might warrant attention.

"Yes," Mary Butler said. "We've got a really nice one coming along."

Greys Calibrator has come a long way in a short time.

Two months after being sidelined by a hip injury, the 33-month-old red brindle female by Craigie Whistler and Greys Nose Dive has been the most hip dog in the Derby Lane Million at Derby Lane.

Not outgoing. Not flashy. Just efficient.

Competing for D'Arcy Kennel, Greys Calibrator has turned the world's richest greyhound race into a personal showcase. Tonight, she attempts to close the deal when she faces seven of the country's top sprinters in the Million, a 550-yard championship race that pays $500,000 to the winner.

"She's a phenomenal female," Butler said. "Whenever we schooled her on the farm with 20 to 24 others, she always had the fastest time. We saw her potential and sent her to Wheeling. Now she's shining at Derby Lane."

Greys Calibrator is the only female to advance through five qualifying rounds to the final. She was the lone dog to win four races, finished atop the point standings with 72, and set a track record, running 550 yards in 29.80 seconds.

"She's in fantastic shape and I really believe she's coming up to her peak," kennel owner and trainer Mick D'Arcy said. "Tom Ferris and his staff at Wheeling did a real good job of bringing her back (from the injury).

"She is so laid back that you could probably walk her with a string. Nothing bothers her and she's all about racing."

Greys Calibrator has won five of seven starts at Derby Lane since coming from Wheeling Downs, where she had 14 victories from 36 starts. She missed most of December and January with a hip injury.

That's when Ocala greyhound owners Bobby Sidhu and Gayle Darville entered the picture. They wanted to nominate a dog for the Million and asked D'Arcy to find them a quality entry. D'Arcy and his daughter, Catherine, researched Greys Calibrator and called the Butlers, who gave their approval to run her.

D'Arcy was the Butlers' trainer at Derby Lane when they operated Greymeadow Kennel. They teamed for numerous kennel titles and stakes wins, but the Butlers dispersed their local operation in 2004 and plan to retire soon.

"Calibrator is a typical Greymeadow dog," D'Arcy said. "They're made for Derby Lane and are very strong. She wouldn't be one of the strongest finishers, but she compensates with early speed. She has a fantastic rush to the bend."

At 72 pounds, Greys Calibrator is larger than many males. Butler said Greys Calibrator has a wonderful future in racing or breeding.

"She has all the credentials as an excellent racing athlete," she said. "Most people that know Greymeadow are very familiar with our breeding lines and the females we have used to make our farm.

"We can continue to race her, possibly in the Sprint Classic, or sell her if we're offered a substantial price. There's a buyer for everything and a seller for everything."