ST. PETERSBURG — Seventeen days before she was whelped, Caitlyn Stoodard's namesake made a name for herself.
Caitlyn Stoddard, a thoroughbred jockey at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, won with her first career mount — riding Im Charming to a score at 87-1 odds in his 15th maiden race.
Perhaps greyhound owner Raymond Thurber, a resident of Vernon in the Florida Panhandle, had that May 1, 2015, moment in mind when he named his dog in honor of the Baltimore native.
Caitlyn Stoodard has made an impression, too. The 61-pound female, who entered the 86th edition of the $5,000 St. Petersburg Consolation Derby on June 30 without a win on the 660-yard course in seven previous tries at Derby Lane, captured her first stakes title on the track's final night of the 2016-17 season.
"I'm not really surprised she won, but I'm surprised, because she's not a real ⅜ths(er)," Capabal kennel assistant trainer Gudrun Scheider said. "She is like in the middle. … She can do a 5/16ths, and she can also (run) ⅜ths. If everything is right for her, she can go."
Caitlyn Stoodard, a 26-month-old dog from a litter by Street Credit and Gmc Kool Kassie, is one of the latest Thurber dogs with jockey-related names to be handled by Capabal kennel owner Henry Parker and trainer Belinda Parker.
Three other greyhounds — Brian Ernst, David Lopez and John Valazquez — combined to give Henry Parker three starters in a stakes championship race for the first time May 29 in the $20,000 Remembrance — a race won by Nova kennel's Poweroftraction. John Valazquez clocked Derby Lane's best time of 30.13 seconds at 550 yards in the previous January-to-June meet, and tied for seventh in the win standings at 12.
His namesake, Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, won his second Kentucky Derby this year aboard Always Dreaming, who broke his maiden Jan. 25 at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar.
"(Thurber) likes to name his dogs after jockeys," Parker said. "We're pretty happy for him. … He is a great guy.
"(Caitlyn Stoodard) is pretty young, and we've been thinking about making a ⅜ths dog out of her. She is awesome around the kennel. (Thurber) raises his dogs, and they get more hands-on (attention)."
Caitlyn Stoodard's victory in the Consolation Derby required a photo finish. After rallying to take the lead from pace-setter Yolo Pink (Burk Greyhounds kennel) entering the stretch, she held off a charging Noelles Bella (Floyd) to win by a head in 37.85 seconds. She paid $12.60 to win and earned $2,200.
It was the seventh win for Caitlyn Stoodard from 27 starts.
HORSES: Tampa Bay Downs nine-time training champion Jamie Ness got his first graded score with his 2,621 career victory July 8 when 11-1 shot Ghost Hunter won the Grade III $100,000 Arlington Handicap under jockey Edwin Gonzalez at Arlington Heights, Ill.