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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The birthday girl came through.

WW’s Odessabeach, arguably Derby Lane’s top 660-yard greyhound, gave Patriot kennel trainer Richard Marcoux his first St. Petersburg stakes victory Saturday night in the $70,000 Holiday Distance Challenge.

Breaking first from the No. 5 box, WW’s Odessabeach led every stride. After fighting off a challenge by eventual third-place finisher Mega Trujillo (Burk Greyhounds kennel) on the final turn, the daughter from a litter by Djays Ocatane and WW’s Gucci pulled away in the stretch for a three-length victory in 37.59 seconds. She paid $5.60 to win as the wagering favorite.

It was the first stakes title for WW’s Odessabeach, who turned 3 on Friday. She has won 11 of her past 12 starts on the 660 course for owner Julia Ward of Abilene, Kan.

Mega Toledo (ABC Racing) nosed out Mega Trujillo for second place. The remaining order of finish: LR Checkers (Floyd), JSK Bye Bye Baby (Cal Holland), TMC’s Moonbeam (Steubenville), Mocha Maya (Capabal) and Hula Hoopn Haley (Capabal).

WW’s Odessabeach won for the 23rd time from 82 starts, and raised her career earnings to more than $47,000. She earned Derby Lane’s richest first-place prize of $32,000.

Patriot owner Vinny Savill and his wife, Phyllis, of Whitman, Mass., won their first Derby Lane stakes title since 2013, when T’s Hanky Panky captured the St. Petersburg Derby.

Marcoux joined Patriot in June after operating a kennel at Sanford Orlando Kennel Club in Longwood, Fla.

“I can’t even comprehend what (the title) means to me,’’ said Marcoux, 46, a native of Manchester, N.H. “It means a lot to Vinny and Phyllis. It means even more to me and my wife (Kami Buchanan). . . . Trust me.’’

This is Marcoux’s second stint at Derby Lane. He previously worked for former kennel owner Tom La Rosa in 2000.

The next stakes race at Derby Lane is the $18,000 1925 Historical Inaugural, a 550-yard event set for Jan. 3-6.

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.