ST. PETERSBURG — It will take the winner a little more than 30 seconds tonight to capture the $20,000 Fall Juvenile at Derby Lane. For Sand Cloud and Se's Chewie, the first eight seconds are paramount.
That is when they hope to reach the first turn in the 550-yard race. And the thoughts of Sand Cloud trainer Catherine D'Arcy and Se's Chewie owner Christopher Palmieri Jr. are identical: "My dog has to get there first."
Sand Cloud and Se's Chewie are the ones to beat in the fifth annual event (Race 8, 9:33 p.m.). They dominated qualifying with 56 points apiece and have combined for 24 career wins — all but one by leading at every call.
"(Sand Cloud) runs a lot like her mom (2007 All-America sprinter Dreamy Blossom)," D'Arcy said. "It's catch me if you can."
The field from the rail: Makers Bark (Hambleton Racing), Kentucky Blue (Cal Holland), Sand Cloud (D'Arcy), Flying Marvelous (McAllister), St. Petersburg Derby winner Storm Rush (Hambleton), Atascocita Davia (Alderson), Se's Chewie (Capabal) and Jw Rapid Strike (Capabal). First place pays $9,000.
This will be the second stakes final for Sand Cloud. It was the first turn in the Oct. 1 Fall Sprint, where the Mick D'Arcy-owned dog fell and finished last.
"(Sand Cloud) needs to get to the front to win it," Catherine D'Arcy said.
Se's Chewie, the youngest finalist at 21 months old, didn't appear to be a front-runner when he was purchased from Steve Ward in April for $1,250 at the National Greyhound Association spring meet auction in Abilene, Kan.
"I thought I had bought a closer for Derby Lane," said Palmieri, who has flown in from Oxon Hill, Md., for the race. "All the credit goes to (kennel owner) Henry (Parker) to get the dog to break."
Parker corrected Se's Chewie's starting box issues.
"Now he's got that break down real good," Parker said. "He's got exceptional speed and if he can stay away from injuries, he's going to be a heck of a dog."
Palmieri is seeking his first Derby Lane stakes win since Pnj's Barr upset two-time All-America choice Cayman Went in the 2004 St. Petersburg Derby. Trained by Belinda Parker, Se's Chewie is one of 60 dogs owned by Palmieri.
He also has a booking at Birmingham, Ala., and owns thoroughbreds as a partner with Fantasy Lane Stable. His top horses include Uptowncharlybrown, who ran in the 2010 Sam F. Davis and Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar, and the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.; and recently retired R Betty Graybull, a four-time stakes winner with earnings of $436,117.
"I like the dogs more," Palmieri said. "They actually bought me my interest in my horses."
NOTES: Derby Lane kennel Magic City-Mighty Fine has been dissolved. … Oldsmar's Jane Cibelli became the first woman to win a training title at Monmouth Park on Sunday in Oceanport, N.J.