ST. PETERSBURG — A virus nearly ended his life. A leg injury almost halted his racing career.
Kaias Sequoyah has managed to keep going.
After winning Race 10 on Friday, the La Rosa Enterprises' 550-yard specialist leads the list of all-time winners for Derby Lane kennel operator Tom La Rosa. He has 60 victories, one more than kennelmate Red Dirt Road (entered tonight in Race 10).
"It's a welcome thing when you get these dogs," said La Rosa, a kennel owner for 20 years. "They make things a little easier for you, knowing their ability is going to help in general."
Kaias Sequoyah has made 127 starts, but it hasn't been easy. In 2006, he contracted a virus, and La Rosa said, "we were fortunate to save him." A tendon injury to the left hind leg hock in 2007 sidelined him for five months. He returned to the track in March and has proceeded to win nearly half his starts.
"If he comes out of the box and puts his nose in front, he's tough," La Rosa said.
Kaias Sequoyah's talent showed in his first lifetime Grade A win in 2006, when the Kim McAuliffe trainee clocked a career-best 30.20 seconds at 550 yards. He posted the fastest time (30.28) at the 2007 Derby Lane meet.
Owned by part-time Parrish resident George (Dick) Adler, Kaias Sequoyah was bred for success. His sire, Ww Time Warp, won 86 races and captured the Woodlands Great American Futurity and Woodlands Kansas Cup, both in 1998. Flying Anne, his dam who once raced for La Rosa, was a finalist (sixth) in the 1999 Tampa Speed Classic.
Kaias Sequoyah has never won a stakes despite reaching the finals in three of five events. His best finish was third to Brady Thomas in Night of Stars XVIII in 2006.
"You have to have a certain amount of luck going your way (in stakes)," La Rosa said. "It seems like he's had that misfortune at all times."
With Kaias Sequoyah three weeks away from his 4th birthday, La Rosa realizes his 73-pound greyhound won't be on the track much longer.
"Possibly until December," La Rosa said. "We just have to play it by ear."
LABOR DAY RACING: Derby Lane will have a matinee performance Monday with no night races.
HORSES: Curlin makes his Saratoga Race Course debut today when he faces seven foes in the Grade I $500,000 Woodward Stakes (Race 10, 5:45 p.m.) at Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Only a second-place finish on grass in the Man o'War Stakes on July 13 at Belmont Park blemishes nearly a year of dominance for Curlin, the champion 3-year-old of 2007. Curlin has won the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Breeders' Cup Classic, Dubai World Cup and Stephen Foster Handicap. … Tampa Bay Downs graduates Atoned and Smooth Air are among 14 3-year-olds in the Grade II $1-million Pennsylvania Derby on Monday at Philadelphia Park.
Times wires contributed to this report.