St. Petersburg, Florida: Derby Lane Greyhounds Shine when Saturday Night Spotlight is On
Derby Lane, the nation’s premier greyhound track located in St. Petersburg, Florida, put on one of their patented Saturday evening cards July 21st, with many of their stars on display. Brady Thomas, fresh off the 50th win of his All-American career, was featured, as was the great router Flyin Bridgeport and his arch-nemesis Phenomenal Dream. Flying Macbeth and Pistol Grip Pump, a pair of hot racers, hooked up, and Red Dirt Road tried to regain the form that had many observers thinking he was Derby Lane’s best sprinter. All of this was on tap, as well as the debut of a young puppy who would try to conjure up a Maiden victory.
That pup was named Wizards Alcatraz, an October 2005 son of K’s Roadmaster, who had a second place finish followed by two triumphs in his schooling endeavors. Sent off at odds of six dimes to the dollar, Alcatraz made a clean escape from the Maiden ranks when he blew to the front of the field and never looked back, winning in 31.82 and helping get the chalkers back on track after a rough Daily Double that saw Mister Twister upset Castle Princess and Furion in the first race and Star White rally from dead last at the first turn call to win a Grade D 3/8ths of a mile contest in the second.
Brady Thomas was such a huge favorite in the fourth that it seemed silly to even open the box and waste his time, seeing how he had just recorded his 50th win on the ultra-tough Derby Lane-Tampa circuit the start before. Beer Run must not have gotten the memo as to how good Brady Thomas was, as he gave the star all he could handle before finally falling a length short. Brady went around the 1,650 foot course after breaking from the eight box in 30.96 seconds, holding on after establishing a three length margin at the turn, embarking on perhaps his second fifty wins.
Few who follow the greyhounds at Derby Lane would argue that there is a better router on the grounds than Flyin Bridgeport, who has won six of his last seven. Unfortunately, that one setback was in the St. Pete Derby finals a few starts back, to Phenomenal Dream. This duo faced off once more on the Saturday night program, with Bridgeport in the one and Dream in the eight, boxes that their handlers would have gladly traded due to their running styles. However, Dream, despite his penchant for running the turns as if the inside was covered with broken glass, to be avoided at all costs, managed to grab the front. The race winner was a foregone conclusion when that occurred, but Dream had some work to do to allow the multitude that pounded the 1-8 quiniela down to 6-5 odds able to return those tickets to the window and get back some cash. Dream got around the turn in fourth, but he had the class to move by the pair ahead of him and finish second, some four lengths back of Flyin Bridgeport, who stayed true to form, running the turns on eggshells but flyin’ down the straight-aways to the tune of a 38.01 second clocking.
In the eighth, Red Dirt Road looked to be in a great spot to shake out of his recent doldrums. At one point the talented runner had won four Derby Lane Grade As in a row, with a fearsome late kick the main weapon employed. Lately he had looked very beatable, with just one win in his last five. That triumph was from the one hole though, and on Saturday night he was wearing red once more, the sight of which persuading the over seventeen-hundred Derby Lane faithful at the track and many more at betting parlors across the land to make him a 7-5 choice. Red Dirt Road broke okay and seemed well on his way to a win, as he made it to the turn a close fourth, well within striking distance of the leaders. However, he failed to fire and had all he could do to run third, while Beyond Reproach and Starz Supreme ran first and second respectively, leaving the fans to ponder why Red Dirt Road was a dead end this time around.
Flying Macbeth and Pistol Grip Pump were matched up in the tenth race, the last of the top grade events on this night. Both had three wins in their last four times out and this one looked to be up for grabs. It was, right up until the box opened, as Macbeth won from here to Scotland, blowing this bunch away by seven in the fastest time of the evening, a 30.75. The festivities weren’t quite over yet, as the twin-trifecta was hit in the lucky thirteenth race. The first half from the eleventh race was 1-8-7, and when All Star Boss won the thirteenth from the eight hole, ahead of the one and three dogs, the twin trifecta came back to the person who had the foresight to wager on such an outcome, giving he or she $12,683 reasons to smile.