ST. PETERSBURG — The D'Arcys are back at it, together again for another stakes finale at Derby Lane.
Kennel manager-trainer Catherine D'Arcy — joined by father Mick, mother Frances and brother Michael — hope to add another chapter to a book of greyhound successes tonight with Golden Squire, the overwhelming favorite in the $75,000 Holiday Distance Challenge.
Over the past two seasons, the D'Arcys have won several of the track's top stakes races. Call Me Ishmael captured the 2013 Sprint Classic, and Brother Buck won the 2012 Distance Classic.
This 660-yard event involves Orla, the moniker for Greys Touch Gold. She is Golden Squire's dam as well as a past winner of the $30,000 St. Petersburg Derby and Catherine D'Arcy's retired pet.
"I bought a house (in St. Petersburg) just to bring her home because my condo association wouldn't allow greyhounds," Catherine D'Arcy said. "She means the world to me."
Greys Touch Gold became a legend at the 2008 St. Petersburg Derby, rallying from a 20-length deficit to defeat Fly Bye Popstar and Flying Macbeth. Mick D'Arcy, who owns the Derby Lane kennel and works with greyhounds at Southland Park in West Memphis, Ark., was Greys Touch Gold's trainer.
"We all had such a part in Orla," D'Arcy said. "(Golden Squire) reminds me so much of her with his running style and personality. It's uncanny."
Golden Squire, a 30-month-old male who won all four Holiday qualifying rounds, is joined by kennelmate Sovereign Lake in Race 10 (10:11 p.m.). The other starters: Flying Hero, Flying Sebastian, Hs Camaro, Lk's Instigator, Kiowa Jordan Doc and Odd Grayson.
When Greys Touch Gold was purchased in 2006, the plan was to breed her to an Australian sire after her racing days. Assisted by two Australian friends, Catherine D'Arcy did that with sprint champion Surf Lorian. The artificial breeding took place in Abilene, Kan., and produced nine pups, led by Golden Squire.
"Graham Lunney told me to watch a pup named Slater break in in Australia," D'Arcy said. "He was a son of Surf Lorian (and career earner of more than $400,000). I kept watching Surf Lorian pups do so well in Australia and Ireland. It became a dream of mine to make the breeding happen. Paul Horig went through all sorts of immigration and quarantine customs rules to get the (frozen semen) tank here for me."
Golden Squire is the litter's best 660-yard athlete, and Golden Surf is tops at 550.
"There is so much to this litter that makes me proud … watching (Golden Squire) learn his trade at three-eighths and getting better every single race," D'Arcy said. "This feels like family with Orla living at home with me."