Upland Flower a favorite in Derby Lane's puppy stakes

Walking with Upland Flower toward the compound at Derby Lane, Cal Holland didn't balk as he talked about one of the top greyhounds in his kennel. That hasn't always been the case.

By DON JENSEN, Times Correspondent
Published May 19, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - Walking with Upland Flower toward the compound at Derby Lane, Cal Holland didn't balk as he talked about one of the top greyhounds in his kennel. That hasn't always been the case.

"She was actually brought in here for the (Derby Lane) Million, but she had a hard time getting here and got in too late, " Holland said. "So I told Daryl Brumage, her owner, I'm not putting her in because she's too young and doesn't have that much experience. I said I was just going to put her on and see how she did, and maybe we could win the puppy stakes."

Upland Flower is one race away from making that happen.

After qualifying as the series' point leader, Upland Flower is expected to be one of the favorites tonight in the 68th annual Gold Trophy Juvenile Stakes. The 550-yard championship race features pups that have broken their maiden by April 14 at the current meet. Only 21 months old, Upland Flower will be one of the youngest starters in the field of eight. The white and brindle-ticked female out of a litter by Cajun Image and Thursdays Flower will be the first stakes finalist of the season for Cal Holland Kennel.

"She has always been a good dog with early speed and a good box breaker, " Holland said. "She is a great kennel dog and never causes any trouble."

Upland Flower drew the No. 4 box for the featured eighth race with post time at approximately 9:30. St. Petersburg Puppy Preview winner In Your Eye of Lester Raines starts from the No. 1 box. The remainder of the field in post-position order: Silver Trumpet (Campbell Greyhound Racing), Kiowa Boy (Filipelli & O'Donnell), Red Dirt Road (LaRosa Enterprises), Godfather (D'Arcy), Hallo Flying Sol (Filipelli & O'Donnell) and Craigie Crimson (D'Arcy).

Trained by Justin Holland, Cal's grandson, Upland Flower led qualifiers with 48 points and was one of two greyhounds to post a pair of wins. She recorded the second-fastest qualifying time Wednesday night, 30.79 seconds in a one-length triumph over Red Dirt Road, which had the best time of 30.75 on May 12. Hallo Flying Sol was the other double winner with favorites prevailing only twice in 12 qualifying races.

Upland Flower came to Derby Lane from Colorado and schooled Jan. 30, only 10 days before the start of the Derby Lane Million. She ran in only two maiden races before the industry's richest race began.

"Larry Birnbaum was going to put the money up for her (in Derby Lane Million), " Holland said. "But I knew I had a nice female and didn't want to ruin her with all these experienced dogs. So he nominated someone else."

Upland Flower has eight victories from 23 starts. She lacked a Grade A win until the Gold Trophy began May 5. Holland said the 63-pound speedster ranks among the top five of his 67-dog kennel, and has been nominated to the Derby Lane Matinee Idol on May 23 and 28 along with kennelmate Fast Tide.

Holland, 63, is trying to snap a 17-month stakes drought since Rambition won the Matinee Idol on Dec. 10, 2005.

A $9, 000 paycheck awaits the Gold Trophy winner.

AROUND THE TRACKS: Defending Tampa Greyhound Track wins leader Dreamy Blossom, Derby Lane Million champ Flying Stanley and Sprint Classic winner Hometown Boy come off second-round qualifying wins in today's third round of the Palm Beach Grand Classic. Dreamy Blossom is the event's only greyhound with two wins. ... Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar, Derby Lane and Tampa Greyhound open gates at 10 a.m. today for advance wagering on the 132nd Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, where Tampa Bay Derby and Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense attempts to capture the second leg of the Triple Crown. Post time for the first race at Pimlico is 10:30 a.m.