ST. PETERSBURG — After coming to the bay area for different reasons, Deco Bull Rum and Aerial Battle are on the same path in the $85,000 Sprint Classic at Derby Lane.
Another quality qualifying performance tonight or Wednesday will ensure the Capabal Kennel a couple of spots in the championship race March 6.
"We've got two strong contenders," kennel co-owner Paul Caple said. "It looks good for both of them."
Deco Bull Rum is one of three undefeated greyhounds in the track's richest 550-yard stakes, with two early-round wins and 32 points. Aerial Battle is tied for fourth with 26 points. Eight dogs with the most accumulative points advance to the finale. Deco Bull Rum drew the rail in Race 10 (10:11 p.m.), where he faces unbeaten Kiowa Ak Richpie (Patriot Kennel). Aerial Battle has the No. 2 box in Race 6 (8:55) against undefeated Odd Inspector (Charter). Both Capabal sprinters are trained by Belinda Parker.
Caple says Deco Bull Rum is a pup with personality.
"He is so much of a fun dog," he said. "I don't think he'll ever get out of being a puppy."
Deco Bull Rum, who finished seventh in the Fall Juvenile in November, is at Derby Lane for owner Roger Spiess, who resides part time in St. Petersburg.
"Roger bought him at national (auction in Abilene, Kan.) so he could watch him when he came down here in the winter," Caple said. "Bull has a good rush, and he's got a big heart."
Aerial Battle won his only stakes to date in the Matinee Idol. He needed a place to run for owner John Bladen after Twin River suspended greyhound racing at its Lincoln, R.I., facility last year.
"He's got great early speed," said Caple, who shares kennel ownership with Henry Parker. "If he gets enough of a lead and then a little help behind, he can win the whole thing."
MORE DOGS: West Virginia invader Kiowa Power Pak has been pulled from Filipelli & O'Donnell Kennel after two winless starts to join the O'Donnell operation in South Florida.
HORSES: Don't Forget Gil goes for her first victory since winning the 2009 Florida Oaks in today's $65,000 Wayward Lass (Race 10, 4:37 p.m.) at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar. … Nominations close today for the Grade III $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby and three other stakes on the March 13 Festival Day card. … Downs trainer Wayne Catalano collected his 2,000th career win with Dunscombe on Wednesday at Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero/Stickney, Ill. … Jockey Leandro Goncalves is out several weeks after hip surgery for bone spurs, the Daily Racing Form reported. … The Family Festival Day program this past Sunday was marred by the death of Skippertip, a 4-year-old gelding that collapsed after the fourth race. Track spokeswoman Margo Flynn said he died of a heart attack.