Greyhound News
Back to News » St. Petersburg Derby Preview
Monday, June 12, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Pat Floyd gives the clue. Not many can provide the correct question.

Noelles Bella . . .

The proper response is: Who is the only greyhound to compete in the past two finals of the $75,000 Distance Classic, and the previous edition of the $30,000 St. Petersburg Derby?

While D’Arcy kennel has dominated Derby Lane’s premier 660-yard races in the past 14 months, Noelles Bella has been a regular in the championship races. Slow starts have kept her out of the stakes winner’s circle as D’Arcy’s Ethanol (2017 Distance Classic), O Ya Cruiser Max (2016 Distance Classic) and 2016 All-America first-team selection Oya Stan The Man (2016 St. Petersburg Derby) claimed top honors.

“(Noelles Bella) just has her own running style,’’ said Floyd, who owns Floyd kennel with husband, Randy Floyd. “She’ll break, drop back, and she tries to close at 100 miles per hour down the stretch.’’

Trained by Derek Barsell for Massachusetts owners William and Sabrina Chamness, Noelles Bella is expected to be entered again for this year’s St. Petersburg Derby, which begins qualifying on June 21. The title race is nine nights later on the track’s final performance of the 2016-17 season.

Noelles Bella had arguably one of her finest moments in the first qualifying round of the 2016 St. Petersburg Derby, pulling off an 11-1 upset with a seven-length victory in 37.17 seconds – the second fastest 660 time of her career. It was her first Grade A win in start No. 36. The 38-month-old female from a litter by Bd’s Grayson and Flying Nome would eventually advance to the finale, where she finished fourth. Noelles Bella also finished fourth in the 2017 Distance Classic, and sixth in the 2016 Distance Classic.

“We call her ‘Pretty’ in the kennel,’’ Pat Floyd said. “She’s just a sweetheart.’’

Noelles Bella was moved to the 660-yard course early in her career. After only six races at 550, Randy Floyd stretched out his 69-pound greyhound. Eighty-seven of her ensuing 89 races have been at 660. She has come from the pace in 19 of her 21 lifetime victories.

Four starts after her eye-opening win in the 2016 St. Petersburg Derby qualifier, Noelles Bella clocked a career-best 36.93 – the fourth fastest 660 time for the July-to-December meet.

To reach the St. Petersburg Derby finale, dogs must finish at least fourth in two consecutive qualifying races. The series includes the Consolation Derby, also on June 30.

The Floyds have been to the St. Petersburg Derby winner’s circle before with Touche Baby in 1999.

“We’re just grateful (to have Noelles Bella), and hope for a miracle (in the St. Petersburg Derby),’’ Pat Floyd said.

Don Jensen

I have been a sports writer in the newspaper industry for 40 years: working in Florida, Maryland and Virginia. I moved to Florida in 1984 after serving as the publicity director of Charles Town Race Track, a thoroughbred facility in West Virginia. I reside in Tampa, Fla., and cover the Tampa Bay area parimutuel scene – both greyhounds and thoroughbreds – and write about high school sports for the Tampa Bay Times.