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Chill greets Derby Lane opening

Most watch indoors, though some vacationers refuse to be cooped up.

By BOB PUTNAM

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 3, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- Aside from watching Michigan beat Auburn in the Citrus Bowl, Betty and Rich Bosowski and Sue and Steve Hoekstra have not had much fun in Florida.

Hoping for refuge from the frigid temperatures in Michigan, the Bosowskis and Hoekstras have encountered more of the same chilly conditions during their vacation. They have not gone to the beach, and their golf trips have been postponed.

"We were thinking of going to a tanning salon just to say we got some sun," Sue Hoekstra said.

So the couples decided for the next best bet. They attended the opening of Derby Lane's 76th season Tuesday night.

With temperatures in the high 30s forcing most patrons to watch races from inside the Derby Club and TL's Card Room, the Bosowskis and Hoekstras sat at a table outside weathering the conditions.

"The weather hasn't been the greatest, but it's still better than being home," Rich Bosowski said. "Back home, we've had record amounts of snow for November and December."

The couples are avid followers of the Wolverines and have missed just two bowl games in the past 12 seasons.

"We're happy with the outcome this year," Steve Hoekstra said of Michigan's 31-28 victory Monday in Orlando. "We don't care too much about the other games."

There was one game, however, that caught the attention of most people. The Sugar Bowl between No. 2 Miami and No. 7 Florida on TV inside the Plaza IV sports bar, which was packed.

For the Bosowskis and the Hoekstras, their focus was on the dogs. They even won two races.

"Not a bad night so far," Rich Bosowski said.

One of the races the couples didn't win was the sixth, a semifinal for the Puppy Preview.

Shall Be Fast won in 31.39 seconds, beating Rancho Caroline and Courageous Nicky.

A 1-year-old red fawn male, Shall Be Fast belongs to Tim Cahill of Cahill & O'Connor Kennel. Cahill ran out of West Palm Beach but decided to bring his entire operation to Derby Lane.

"I sold the house and brought the boat and the dogs here," Cahill said. "I've been in this business for 40 years and it is always a dream to be able to race here."

In the other semifinal (No. 10), Reward Green from System Kennel won in 31.59 seconds to beat betting favorite Salute, which battled back from the eighth and final spot after Turn 1 to finish as the runner-up.

The final of the Puppy Preview is Friday night.

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