ST. PETERSBURG — Flying Macbeth knocked … and knocked … and knocked.
A rival always seemed to slam the door in his face in major races — until the McAllister Kennels' greyhound turned the tables in the $50,000 Fall Sprint Stakes at Derby Lane. His six-length victory over kennelmate Flyin Home Depot on Oct. 4 was the breakthrough kennel operator Malcolm McAllister had waited for. It was Flying Macbeth's first stakes victory.
"I'm relieved," he said. "I hope this is one of many. … He's been in five (previous) finals and never pulled one off. He was overdue. I was happy for him, (owner) Vince Berland and the regime."
Flying Macbeth, a 38-month-old red male out of a litter by Flying Hydrogen and Fuzzys Blueangel, had trouble shedding the bridesmaid tag. In stakes races, he lost to Greys Touch Gold (St. Petersburg Derby), Red Dirt Road (T.L. Weaver Memorial) and Kinloch Brae (Sprint Classic) — all this year — and to Flying Stanley (Fall Sprint) and Flyin Bridgeport (660-Yard Challenge) in 2007. In those stakes, his best finishes were two third places.
At the Derby Lane 2007-08 meet, Flying Macbeth was the leading winner until a lower back injury in March sidelined him for five weeks, allowing Red Dirt Road to overtake him and set a meet win record (43). He also appeared to clock the meet's fastest times on both courses (30.07 seconds at 550 yards and 37.14 at 660), but Red Dirt Road took down the mark with 30.06 three days before the season ended.
The Fall Sprint set up perfectly for Flying Macbeth, who is trained by Barbara McAllister, Malcolm's wife. The event's qualifying points leader drew the No. 1 box and didn't have to face Red Dirt Road, who injured his leg in the final qualifier and is expected to miss at least two months. In the 550-yard final, Flying Macbeth passed pacesetter Lamorge Streaker (fifth) entering the stretch and posted his 62nd career victory in 128 starts. The winning time was 30.68 seconds.
"I was just hoping for a clean race," Malcolm said. "It was a shame what happened to (kennel operator) Tommy (La Rosa). He's got a hell of a nice dog" in Red Dirt Road.
Flying Macbeth is now arguably the top athlete at Derby Lane. The dual-distance performer has won half of his 110 career starts at 550 yards, and seven of 18 at 660.
MORE DOGS: Retired Derby Lane kennel operator Chuck Marriott and former standout greyhound Talentedmrripley will be inducted into the Greyhound Hall of Fame on Thursday in Abilene, Kan.
HORSES: Tampa Bay Downs trainer Tom Proctor sends two-time stakes winner Closeout of Ocala's Glen Hill Farm against 10 challengers today in the Grade I $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (Race 9, 5:10 p.m.) at Keeneland Race Track in Lexington, Ky. Closeout starts from the No. 5 post with Jamie Theriot up in the 1 1/8-mile turf test for 3-year-old fillies. … Smooth Air, a third-place finisher in the Sam F. Davis Stakes this year at TBD, is expected to be entered in the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif. It appears Smooth Air will have enough points to qualify for the $5-million race. … A hearing officer found there is insufficient evidence to suspend Big Brown's trainer Rick Dutrow for violating Kentucky drug rules with another horse. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission claimed that Salute the Count had an excessive amount of Clenbuterol in his blood during a race. The commission said it will appeal.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.