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Friday, January 5, 2018

 ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The inaugural Derby Lane Million – a race featuring a $500,000 first-place prize and eventually won by Greys Calibrator of D’Arcy kennel – had just completed its first-round, post-position draw in February, 2006 when Jan Alderson spoke about the most talked about event in years.

  “We’re thrilled that the race is here,’’ the long-time kennel operator said. “Something like this was really needed.’’

  The Alderson brand always seemed to be part of the greyhound racing landscape. That changed recently when Jan Alderson retired. Her kennel was dissolved Dec. 30, and the dogs were dispersed to other operations.

  “She had the longest tenured kennel here at Derby Lane,’’ track director of racing Les Robison said.

  For a majority of Derby Lane’s 93 years, Alderson was a prominent name in the industry. Track vice president and historian Louise Weaver said the Alderson family had ties with Derby Lane since the 1930s. Jan Alderson was the latest to carry the torch after her late father, Hiley Edwin “Eddy’’ Alderson, retired.

  “She had taken over for her father, and they had been around here for years and years and years,’’ Robison said.

  Alderson’s departure comes a year after her final stakes victory by 12-1 shot Bella Gigan in the $18,000 1925 Historical Inaugural, which kicks off Derby Lane’s 2018 stakes schedule Saturday night in Race 10 at 9:47.

  The Alderson kennel endured three generations. “Eddy’’ Alderson (2000) was the most recent of four family members to be inducted to the Greyhound Hall of Fame in Abilene, Kan. Others include Jan Alderson’s grandfather, Perry Alderson (1981), and uncles G.A. “Sonny’’ Alderson (1986) and Highley Alderson (1975).

  Jan Alderson collected 4,258 victories in statistics available since 2003. Her best season came at the January-to-June 2015 meet when the kennel finished second in wins to three-time champion Burk Greyhounds. Alderson handled three stakes-winning dogs: Fiesta Bruno ($20,000 Gold Trophy Juvenile in 2015), Lamorge Streaker ($8,000 T.L. Weaver Memorial Challenge in 2009), and Bella Gigan. Alderson also had two meet win leaders with Fiesta Mercury (2015) and Dewey Millions (2009). Greg Lesperance, her son, assisted in the operation.

  Robison said no other changes are planned for Derby Lane’s 16-kennel roster.

  MORE DOGS. RT’s Bo Jangles (Cal Holland kennel) goes for his third stakes crown in the 1925 Historical Inaugural. Other starters: Barts Mr Peabody (Bartley Corporation), CTW Party Animal (Clear The Way Kennels), Flamenco Dancer (Farmer Racing), John Valazquez (Capabal), SE’s Wepon X (Nova), Volando Orange (Burk Greyhounds) and Wall Nut (ABC Racing).  The winner earns $7,700.

  MEET LEADERS. RT’s Bo Jangles claimed his second win title in a row with 25 victories from 35 starts at the recent July-to-December meet. Bartley Corporation captured its first kennel championship with 232 wins from 1,411 starts to finish nine victories in front of Capabal. Kaias Blackjack (Floyd kennel) and RT’s Bo Jangles clocked the fastest 550-yard times at 30.22 seconds. Cool It Now (Farmer Racing) had the best 660 clocking at 37.21 seconds.

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.