ST. PETERSBURG — The $75,000 660-Yard Challenge provides Derby Lane's biggest bonanza. For Flying Marvelous, a win would be a grand way to say goodbye.
Flying Marvelous, who will be sent to Arkansas this month, can give McAllister kennel its 20th overall stakes victory tonight in Derby Lane's final stakes of the year (10th race, 10:11 p.m.). The $33,500 first-place prize is the richest at Derby Lane.
Kennel owner Malcolm McAllister said it won't take long to see if Flying Marvelous is on top of her game.
"She's a fast breaker, and it's 'Catch me if you can,' " he said. "I'll be leaving the Derby Club (where McAllister will watch the race) real early if she's not near the front at the start."
Flying Marvelous, a 2-year-old female out of a litter by Kiowa Sweet Trey and Flying Midnite, led qualifiers with three wins and 54 points for trainer Barbara McAllister, Malcolm's wife.
This is Flying Marvelous' third stakes final this year. She finished eighth in the previous two, losing by 59 combined lengths in the $20,000 Fall Sprint (early collision) and the $30,000 St. Petersburg Derby, in which she sustained a right shoulder injury and missed more than two months.
"She's 100 percent now," Malcolm said.
Owned by Vince Berland of Abilene, Kan., Flying Marvelous drew Box 8. The rest of the field from the rail: Flying Big Gun (Red Oak kennel), meet wins leader Kentucky Fire (Cal Holland), Brother Buck (D'Arcy), Ahk Colormegone (Abernathy), Hallo Sangria (J.E. O'Donnell Jr.), St. Petersburg Derby winner Storm Rush (Hambleton) and Distance Classic and St. Petersburg Consolation Derby winner Magic Finch (Abernathy).
Flying Marvelous, a winner in 15 of 33 starts, will soon head to Southland Park in West Memphis, Ark. She will be replaced by super talent Tiger Boy, who in March became the youngest dog (17 months) to win the $75,000 Hollywood World Classic at Mardi Gras in Hallandale Beach. Tiger Boy is now at Naples-Fort Myers. He also has raced at Birmingham, Ala., and Southland Park.
McAllister has dominated the 660-Yard Challenge with wins in three of the first four years (Flying Coal City, 2010; Flying Mancini, 2008, and Flyin Bridgeport, 2007). All McAllister's stakes wins have come since 2007. The kennel arrived at Derby Lane in 2005 and is battling Hambleton Racing for its fourth wins title.
McAllister has not won a stakes since January, when Triple Crown winner Flying Coal City captured the $8,000 Inaugural.
MORE DOGS: All-America candidate Hi Noon Renegade (Nova) won his eighth consecutive start Wednesday after returning from a three-month injury layoff.