ST. PETERSBURG — Flying Coal City targets stakes races. Now he wears the bull's-eye for the $50,000 Fall Sprint that begins tonight at Derby Lane.
The McAllister kennel dual-distance greyhound leads the meet in wins, owns the best time at 550 yards and has the top-five clockings at 660 yards. Kennel owner Malcolm McAllister, who has handled All-America performers Flyin Bridgeport, Flying Mancini and Flying Stanley in recent years, calls Flying Coal City the fastest dog he has had in a 31-year career.
"Flying Coal City is the best dog here, I believe," McAllister, 63, said. "But he hasn't won (this stakes) yet. There's traffic in a sprint, and that worries me. We'll see what happens when he goes into the turn, some speed jams up, and he's in the wrong place at the wrong time. That's what can get him beat."
A 30-month-old male out of a litter by Kiowa Sweet Trey and Flying Crestline, Flying Coal City is among 32 sprinters in the 550-yard, four-qualifying round series. His first test is tonight in Race 10 (10:11 p.m.). Other top rivals include Kiowa Lazy Lazy (Lester Raines kennel), whose five-race win streak is the longest of any entry; Backwood Ike (Campbell); Ctw Flight Plan (D'Arcy); M's Free Hand (Floyd & Porter); and Rc Out Of Site (Capabal). Aerial Battle (Capabal), the previous meet's leading winner, is sidelined with an injury. Eight dogs advance to the championship race on Oct. 2.
This is the seventh stakes for Flying Coal City, all this year. Trained by Barbara McAllister, Malcolm's wife, the 76-pound greyhound won the $64,000 Sprint Classic and $8,000 T.L. Weaver Memorial Challenge, both at 550 yards. He finished second in Night of Stars XXIII, the $30,000 St. Petersburg Derby and $80,000 Distance Classic, the latter two at 660 yards.
Flying Coal City has 45 victories from 73 career starts, winning 14 of 25 races at 550 yards, and 31 of 48 at 660. With lifetime earnings totaling $78,656, he can surpass $100,000 with the $22,000 first-place paycheck. McAllister is seeking his 17th stakes win at Derby Lane since 2007.
Owner Vince Berland runs Flying Coal City at Derby Lane because of the track's stakes program.
"He's got an awesome year ahead of him if he doesn't break down," McAllister said. "He is 21/2 (years old) and that's about peaking-out time for him. Winning prestige stakes races at Derby Lane and winning an All-America award (would) help his resume for a stud career."
NOTES: Red Oak Racing has replaced Filipelli kennel on the Derby Lane roster. Red Oak is owned by Robert Lambert, who also has a booking at VictoryLand in Shorter, Ala. Elizabeth Carter is the trainer. The move came after former kennel owner John Filipelli accepted a trainer's position at Bluffs Run in Council Bluffs, Iowa. … Robin Searl is the new trainer for Alderson kennel.