ST. PETERSBURG — Nicolaus Silver was the leading qualifier and drew a favorable post for tonight's 71st edition of the $20,000 Gold Trophy Juvenile at Derby Lane.
But that won't prevent kennel owner-trainer Mick D'Arcy from being on pins and needles.
Fresh on D'Arcy's mind is the acupuncture treatment Nicolaus Silver received after a jumping accident in 2008. And when his greyhound enters the starting box of Derby Lane's fourth-oldest race, D'Arcy will think about the person who jump-started Nicolaus Silver's career, licensed massage therapist and veterinary acupuncturist Diane Giordan, 58, who died March 10 of cancer.
"It will be an emotional night, and a win would mean a lot to the whole family — my wife, my daughter, my son — (and) all the St. Petersburg kennel staff," D'Arcy said.
"Without Diane, this dog would have been a couch potato by now. She spent nearly six months with him. Our own vet said he had no chance of racing."
Nicolaus Silver starts from the No. 2 box in Race 8 (9:33 p.m.). It is the post that D'Arcy drew in 2006 when Greys Calibrator won the defunct Derby Lane Million, the Irishman's richest victory.
Other qualifiers from the rail: M's Free Agent (Floyd & Porter Kennel), Poppys Pick (Lester Raines), Jack's Shortfuse (Cal Holland), Backwood Ike (Campbell), Carry Out (Lester Raines), M's Free Mover (Floyd & Porter), and Ls Jack Williams (Nova). First place in the 550-yard race pays $9,000.
A 30-month-old male by Lonesome Cry, the nation's third-leading sire in 2009, Nicolaus Silver suffered severe muscle trauma throughout his body in the accident. Recovery began with acupuncture, followed by swimming five days a week at Gandy Beach.
He started racing in October 2009, winning his first two schooling sprints by 20 total lengths. He broke his maiden in his second lifetime start.
"When he won a maiden, we thought it was like winning a stakes race," D'Arcy said.
Another reason for D'Arcy's sentiment with Nicolaus Silver is his pedigree. Valoris, his dam, raced for D'Arcy, as did grand-dam, Greys Free Style, a dual-stakes winner and 2000 Distance Classic champion.
"He's a third-generation dog, and to see the (blood) line continue on at one of the premier tracks in the world means a lot to us," D'Arcy said.
Nicolaus Silver, whose kennel moniker is Frosty, has five victories in his past seven starts. He has won 13 of 45 lifetime races. His career-best clocking at 550 yards is 30.37 seconds.
"He's 105 percent healthy and one of the best dogs on the track to run a bend (turn)," D'Arcy said. "In the last two months, he's (been) a new dog."