ST. PETERSBURG — Floyd & Porter Kennel has gone 1,018 days without a stakes victory at Derby Lane. The M & M boys might change that soon.
M's Free Agent, M's Free Mover and M's Free Hand, littermates owned by kennel partner Lamar Porter of Plant City, lead Floyd & Porter into tonight's third round of the $20,000 Gold Trophy Juvenile.
The 550-yard stakes race features greyhounds that have broken their maiden at the track this season. There were eight different winners in the first two qualifying rounds, and only one favorite prevailed. Campbell Greyhound Racing's Backwood Ike, the points leader with 26, drew Race 6 (8:55 p.m.), where he will be joined by M's Free Hand (13 points). M's Free Agent, fifth in the standings with 19, is in Race 10 (10:11) with M's Free Mover (14). Qualifying concludes Wednesday with the top eight pups advancing to the championship race May 15.
The Floyd & Porter 25-month-old sprinters are from a litter by 2006 All-America member and Flashy Sir (top distance) award winner Extruding Dream and M's Mary Freeman, a female owned by Porter.
"This is the best litter we've had in a couple of years," kennel co-owner Pat Floyd said. "If Agent gets in front, he's more of a sprinter. The other two seem to come from behind. They're all really hard-trying dogs."
Trained by Cal Holland Jr., the trio has combined for 30 wins from 110 races, all advancing to Grade A by their 10th start. M's Free Agent leads with 11 wins and clocked the Gold Trophy Juvenile's fastest time, 30.41 seconds Wednesday. M's Free Lance might be the best of the group, Floyd said. But he injured a shoulder in February and began schooling Friday.
Floyd & Porter had arguably its best litter from 2005 to 2009 with Brady Thomas, Hometown Boy and Legends Field. They totaled 186 victories, winning five stakes. Brady Thomas won the 2006 Gold Trophy Juvenile and gave the kennel its last stakes victory, in Night of Stars XX in 2007.
Thoroughbreds: Final statistics for the Tampa Bay Downs season that concluded Sunday showed a sharp decline in total on-track handle, more than $7 million from the previous year. The total on-track handle, including simulcasts, was $38,613,226, down 15.38 percent from $45,631,836.
Results for the 91-day meet were released this week. Last year the Downs ran 94 days.
Other declines: live product on-track handle (14.73 percent), attendance (4.52), purses paid (2.19), turf races (7.66), total races (4.15) and race starters (3.97). Total claiming prices were off 43.95 percent, with 153 horses being purchased, an increase of five.
On positive notes, the Downs' daily live all-source handle increased 5.16 percent, to a record $4,186,133, boosted by gains in out-of-state handle (6.92 percent) and live in-state handle (2.41).