Year-round racing comes to bay area

Derby Lane and Tampa Greyhound Track, facilities with a combined 156 years of operation, enter into live year-round dog racing seasons Sunday.

Published June 30, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - The staccato sound of the call to the post will soon be available in stereo.

Derby Lane and Tampa Greyhound Track, facilities with a combined 156 years of operation, enter into live year-round dog racing seasons Sunday. It will be a first for both tracks.

"We don't know exactly what's going to happen, but we feel we got some good experience from last year when we did run nine months, " Derby Lane president and chairman of the board Vey Weaver said. "I think we'll be able to hold our own and keep a viable, good product going for the whole year."

Derby Lane's meet ends tonight with the St. Petersburg Derby championship and consolation 660-yard races. The new season at the track in St. Petersburg begins Monday. Tampa's track has races for the first time Sunday. Derby Lane will maintain its regular schedule of nine weekly performances, six in the evening, three matinees and dark Sunday. Tampa will race daily with seven of its weekly eight performances being matinees.

"We're not really running against each other that often, " Weaver said. "I don't see us conflicting that much, and we're going to carry each other's signals."

Greyhound racing isn't the only additional activity that begins Sunday. Derby Lane, Tampa Greyhound and Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar will provide poker 12 hours daily and host simulcast wagering on greyhounds, thoroughbreds, standardbreds and jai-alai every day. Senate Bill 752 became law recently without Gov. Charlie Crist's signature, allowing card rooms to open although racing isn't in effect at sites associated with live racing. Ninety-five poker tables will be available at the three sites, including 45 at Derby Lane. The Downs' card room has been moved from the grandstand to the clubhouse.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation approved 468 performances for Derby Lane in the upcoming season.

"(Kennels) have been asking us to do (year-round racing) for over 10 years, " Weaver said. "Finally, we're in the position to do this."

Racing secretary Jerry Miller has assembled a roster of 21 kennels. Charter Kennel, Rader Racing, Wayne Strong Kennels and Array Of Speed Racing Kennels (formerly Scheele) are additions. All performances will consist of 14 races, excluding Friday and Saturday evenings, which have 15.

The third edition of the Derby Lane Million for the upcoming season (March 1) highlights the track's stakes schedule. Other stakes are Fall Sprint (Oct. 6), Fall Juvenile (Nov. 17), 660-Yard Challenge (Dec. 22), Inaugural (Jan. 5), Matinee Idol (Jan. 26), Sprint Classic (March 29), Distance Classic (April 26), Gold Trophy Juvenile (May 24), T.L. Weaver (June 7) and another 660-Yard Challenge (June 28).

Derby Lane and Tampa will have five stakes races in the next eight days. Along with the St. Petersburg Derby final, Derby Lane has a 550-yard Firecracker Hot Box during Wednesday's matinee. Tampa will run the Future Champions Preview on Sunday's matinee and the Tampa Inaugural on its July 7 evening card, both 550-yard events.

The St. Petersburg Derby winner in Race 10 earns $13, 000. The field in post position order: Phenomenal Dream, Kiowa Larrys Run, Greys Touch Gold, Flyin Bridgeport, Fleet Mary, Seaquest, Hellion and Fed Factor. Post time is 10:07 p.m. The consolation is worth $4, 400 to the winner and will be Race 8 at 9:29. The field from the rail: Greys Red Skye, Lefty Moon, Extruding Dream, Flying Midnite, Gotta Havedreams, Starz Supreme, Greys Blak Smith and Wsr Oh Yummy.

AROUND THE TRACKS: Dominator, a standout greyhound at Derby Lane and Tampa from 1999-2001, died Wednesday of undisclosed causes. Owned by Ryan Farms and trained by John Filipelli, Dominator was captain of the 2000 All-America team and became the first greyhound to win the Rural Rube and Flashy Sir awards in the same season. ... Mike Fox, which ran at the Downs on March 23, won the $1-million Grade I Queen's Plate Stakes on Sunday at Woodbine Race Track in Toronto. The horse was ridden by Emma-Jayne Wilson, the first woman to capture the Queen's Plate in the 148th edition of Canada's oldest race.

Fast Facts:

The schedules

(effective Sunday)

Derby Lane (St. Petersburg): Dog racing - Monday, Wednesday and Saturday (matinees, 12:30 p.m.); Monday-Saturday (evenings, 7:30 p.m.). Simulcast wagering - Monday-Sunday. Poker - Monday-Sunday (noon-midnight), 45 tables. Gates open - 11:30 a.m.

Tampa Greyhound Track: Dog racing - Monday-Sunday (matinees, 12:30 p.m.); Saturday (evenings, 7:30 p.m.). Simulcast wagering - Monday-Sunday. Poker - Monday-Sunday (11 a.m.-11 p.m.), 20 tables. Gates open - 10 a.m.

Tampa Bay Downs (Oldsmar): Simulcast wagering - Monday-Sunday. Poker - Monday-Sunday (noon-midnight), 30 tables. Gates open - 11 a.m.