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Monday, August 29, 2016

All you had to do what hit the replay button in the $8,000 T.L. Weaver Memorial Challenge on Saturday night at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Flash back to Wednesday, one of two semifinals in which Cal Holland kennel’s Kentucky Kat followed Tr’s Flapjack of Floyd kennel into the stretch before finally coasting past her opponent for a win.

Three nights later in Derby Lane’s first stakes of the season, the pattern continued as Kentucky Kat chased the pace-setting Tr’s Flapjack into deep stretch before rallying for a 1-1/2 length victory – her first career stakes title.

“(Kentucky Kat) was close enough to where I know Flapjack is a little bit short,’’ kennel manager and trainer Justin Holland, 29, said. “So (I knew) she would be able to catch him at the end. Still, (Tr’s Flapjack) really gave a much tougher test (Saturday) than he did Wednesday.’’

Kentucky Kat, a 27-month-old female, clocked 550 yards in 30.57 seconds as the 2-1 wagering favorite. It was her 22nd victory from 46 lifetime starts. First place was worth $3,200.

She became the second stakes winner from a litter by Pat C Clement and Kentucky Jude. Her brother, Somerset Roy, won the $20,000 Gold Trophy Juvenile on May 7. Both greyhounds are owned by Don Godby of Eaton, Colo.

The T.L. Weaver Memorial, named in honor of Derby Lane’s founder, came two races after retired standout Husker Magic of Abernathy kennel participated in an on-track farewell ceremony. Husker Magic, the 2015 All-America captain and Rural Rube award winner as the sport’s top sprinter, ran her final race on June 21 after winning 105 races. She is the only Derby Lane greyhound to reach the century mark in wins at the 91-year-old track. Her last of three stakes titles came in the previous T.L. Weaver Memorial on June 4, and the upcoming $50,000 Husker Magic Fall Sprint on Sept. 10-24 is named after her.

“(The night) was special,’’ Holland said. “I lost many times to (Husker Magic), but she definitely deserved everything she got, because she was able to withstand the ins and outs of every day. (Kennel owners) Jim and Kayruth (Abernathy) did a very nice job taking care of her.’’

The remaining order of finish in the T.L. Weaver: Flying Dynomite (McAllister Racing), Sh Norio (D’Arcy), Yolo Carter (Burk Greyhounds), Hallo French Gig (Pauline O’Donnell), two-time stakes winner Mac’s Gossie (Alabama Racing) and Lk’s Neon Lite (Lashmet).

‘Hopefully, (this win) will get us to start going on the right foot,’’ said Holland, whose operation ranks 15th in the track’s 17-kennel win standings. “We’ve had a rough start, and, hopefully, we get some things figured out.’’

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.