ST. PETERSBURG — The evening started with lightning and thunder. Flying Lone Wolf ended it with an electrifying effort.
The McAllister kennel greyhound gave a career-best performance in winning the $20,000 Gold Trophy Juvenile Stakes on May 19 at Derby Lane.
But had the 550-yard race gone off 30 minutes later, when a deluge of rain turned the track surface from fast to sloppy, kennel owner Malcolm McAllister said it could have been a different story.
"He would have been in trouble because the rail (Flying Lone Wolf had the No. 1 box) would have been bogging him down," said McAllister, who won his 21st stakes at Derby Lane. "This particular surface is not beneficial to being on the inside when it rains (and) is beneficial to mid-trackers. I needed a dry, good rail."
That is what Flying Lone Wolf got. He won his first stakes in box-to-wire fashion, beating D'Arcy kennel's Call Me Ishmael by 31/2 lengths for the $9,000 first-place paycheck. The winning time of 30.37 seconds was the best in his young career and second fastest in the Gold Trophy's 73 years. Brady Thomas of Floyd & Porter ran a 29.98 in 2006. Flying Lone Wolf's time also was the track's second fastest for the week in 106 races over the 550-yard course.
Owned by Vince Berland of Abilene, Kan., Flying Lone Wolf almost skipped the series.
"He was going to go to Wheeling (Island in West Virginia) and I said, 'Wait a minute. He could win the Gold Trophy,' " McAllister said. "Lance Berland (Vince's son), who pretty much runs the operation, said, 'If you think he can win it, he can stay.' "
Flying Lone Wolf had his worst lifetime race before the finale. On a sloppy track in the fourth qualifier, he finished last, 21 lengths behind Call Me Ishmael.
Overall, Flying Lone Wolf has nine victories from 23 starts under trainer Barbara McAllister, Malcolm's wife. The 21-month-old male out of a litter by Lonesome Cry and Flying Argyle has led at every call in each win. Lonesome Cry, a dual stakes winner, was Derby Lane's win leader in 2003. He competed in the Gold Trophy that year, but finished last behind winner Flying Newport. Lonesome Cry won career 49 races and earned more than $90,000.
McAllister said Flying Lone Wolf may be sent to Wheeling Island in June.
"There are no more stakes races for him now (at Derby Lane)," he said. "If he goes, (the Berlands) might bring him back in December for the Sprint Classic next year. He's a small male (65 pounds), but he's got big feet.
"He's got everything going for him. He's got box break, a huge rush to the turn and he's not that short. He is very young and can only get better."
MEMORIAL DAY SCHEDULE: Derby Lane will have a 15-race matinee performance Monday. There will be no night racing, but the track will remain open for poker and simulcast wagering.