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Wednesday, December 21, 2016


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Twenty-six stakes wins. Four qualifiers. One potential big paycheck.

Before the $70,000 Holiday Distance Challenge began on Dec 7, McAllister Racing kennel manager and trainer Louis Amaral had one wish for the 660-yard event, Derby Lane’s final stakes race of 2016.

“The goal is to get them all in (the finale),’’ Amaral said.

He succeeded.

Led by track win leader Flying Dynomite, McAllister will have half of the eight starters in a rare Friday night championship race. The Challenge finale was scheduled a day earlier than normal because of the holiday weekend and with the six-month meet ending on Dec. 31. The Challenge will be Race 10 at 9:47 p.m. with the winner earning $32,000.

Flyin Honor Code, Flyin Joni Ernst and Kiowa Spin A Web will join Flying Dynomite in the starting box for kennel owner Malcolm McAllister, who goes for his 27th stakes title at Derby Lane. McAllister has not won a stakes since 2012. All four dogs are owned by Vince Berland of Abilene, Kan.

“With four of the eight starters, we have half the field,’’ McAllister said. “That’s called a coin flip. Heads or tails? That’s where we’re at.’’

The rest of the field includes Bella Bulgari (Burk Greyhounds kennel), Oya Stan The Man (D’Arcy), Tempo Ringer (Patriot) and Wendy Rhoades (Alabama). St. Petersburg Derby winner Oya Stan The Man is the only dog with a stakes title.

Flying Dynomite, a 23-month-old female from a litter by 2010 Triple Crown winner Flying Coal City and Firecracker Sue, was the overwhelming standout in the four-round qualifying format. She won three times and finished second by a half-length while recording the best time of 37.03 seconds, a career best. Her 58 points led all qualifiers. She is the meet win leader with 19.

Flyin Joni Ernest needed a big effort in her final qualifier, and she came through with a box-to-wire, four-length victory in 37.06 seconds. The victory was worth 16 points, nearly half of her 33-point total.

The top four greyhounds will walk away with nice paychecks. After the winner, the next three finishers earn $16,000, $9.600 and $6,400, respectively.

Post positions from the rail out: Oya Stan The Man, Tempo Ringer, Flyin Honor Code, Flying Dynomite, Wendy Rhoades, Kiowa Spin A Web, Bella Bulgari and Flyin Joni Ernest.

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.