ST. PETERSBURG — Capabal Kennel is leading a cash giveaway at Derby Lane.
The 20-year-old operation has produced some of the track's highest-paying winners while asserting itself as one of the top kennels. Entering Friday, Capabal ranked fifth among 16 kennels, a turnabout from the past four years when it was 13th, 11th, ninth and 13th, respectively. Capabal has never won a title, finishing second to Bahama Mama in 2005 under co-owners Paul Caple and Henry Parker.
"It's always been a fun thing, even in the down days, because there's not a whole lot of money (in greyhound racing)," Caple, 69, said. "The success is all in the puppies and avoiding injuries. Actually, most of it is due to Henry. He's like a magician (and) a veterinarian. He works with whatever he's got and gets the most out of them. He knows every dog and catches injuries before they're career-ending. Why do you think I made him a partner?"
Capabal's surge has caught many by surprise. Twenty-eight of its 57 winners have paid more than $10 on a $2 parimutuel ticket, including $32.20, $27.60 and $25.40. Fifty-one performances have been held, and Capabal didn't reach 57 wins last year until performance No. 101. Its win percentage of 15.32 from 372 starts is an improvement over its combined 11.38 rate from the past four meets. Capabal, which trails leader Charter (74 wins), gets much of its talent from breeders Lowell Watson of Tampa and Texan Larry Wadlington.
Capabal was the last kennel to record a Grade A victory with Greta's Shanghai on Aug. 1. Greta's Shanghai is one of many greyhounds that has spent time at Caple's 3-acre farm in Tarpon Springs, where dogs are rehabilitated or rested. She returned to action in June after a four-month layoff with a stressed hock. Caple also is a breeder who focuses on distance runners.
One goal for Caple is to win a stakes race, something the Scranton, Pa., native last achieved in 2005 with Top Cat Orson in Night of Stars XVI. His top sprinters are Ll's Dormarbuddy and Monica Crawley, both earning their first four career wins since the meet began July 1.
Monica Crawley took a two-race win streak into her Grade A debut Friday. She paid $32.20 to win in her previous start. "I think you're going to see us contending for a lot of the stakes races," Caple said. "It's been a while (since a win)."
HALL OF FAMERS: Oklahoma breeder Kay Smith, a dog supplier for many Derby Lane kennels, has been elected to the Greyhound Hall of Fame. She is joined by National Greyhound Association secretary-treasurer Gary Guccione. Induction is Oct. 15 in Abilene, Kan. … Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame at Saratoga Springs, N.Y.. Joining him were trainer Janet Elliot, jockey Eddie Maple and horses Ben Nevis II, Silverbulletday and Tiznow.