ST. PETERSBURG — What makes Flying Mancini so special is she is not a specialist. She can win at 550, 660 or 770 yards.
Since coming to Derby Lane in November, the West Virginia invader has filled the void left by All-America dogs Flying Stanley and Flyin Bridgeport, both retired last year. And the McAllister Kennels standout has brought a buzz that had been missing since October, when Derby Lane all-time meet win leader Red Dirt Road went down with a torn hind muscle.
Flying Mancini, a 27-month-old red brindle female out of a litter by Kiowa Sweet Trey and Gable Acadia, is Derby Lane's top candidate for the All-America team, and possibly Flashy Sir (top distance) and Rural Rube (best sprinter) awards for 2008. Announcements will be made later this year.
Under the care of kennel operators Malcolm and Barbara McAllister, Flying Mancini has won two of her four career stakes at Derby Lane: 550-yard Inaugural on Jan. 3 and 660-yard Challenge on Dec. 20. The 60-pound greyhound has won her past seven starts by 42 total lengths and clocked the meet's second-fastest time at 660 yards (37.09 seconds) and fourth fastest at 550 (30.14).
"This female is awesome," Malcolm said. "She can run all day — sprints, three-eighths or seven-sixteenths."
Owned by Vince Berland, Flying Mancini set two track records in 2008: Woodlands in Kansas City, Kan., where she ran 770 yards in 43.22 seconds, and at Wheeling Island (W.Va.) with a 548-yard time of 29.34 seconds. She has made the finals in all eight career stakes. Her first stakes wins came at Woodlands, where she took the Kansas Bred Sprint and Woodlands Countdown. "She'll be here until the end of the meet," Malcolm said. "Hopefully, she's going to be in every stakes we have."
HORSES: He's So Chic heads 10 older horses today in the $65,000 Pelican Stakes (Race 10, 4:37 p.m.) at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar. Defending champ Lookinforthesecret was nominated for the 6-furlong race but has been idle for six months with foot issues.
WAGERING DOWN: Parimutuel wagering in Florida has declined 19.3 percent compared with one year ago. In statistics from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation/Division of Parimutuel Wagering, total handle for thoroughbreds, greyhounds, standardbreds and jai alai from July through November was $415,329,138, down from $514,561,071. Wagering at thoroughbred facilities declined 20.3 percent and 18 percent at greyhound sites. Card rooms had a 15.2 percent increase. Equibase Company reported recently that wagering on thoroughbred racing in America was down more than seven percent in 2008.