ST. PETERSBURG — Before Flying Sebastian ran his first career race in May, Vince Berland received a high five-figure sales offer for his pup.
"No way," the Abilene, Kan., dog breeder said of the undisclosed amount.
It's easy to see why.
Flying Sebastian is the only undefeated greyhound in tonight's third round of qualifying in the $50,000 Fall Sprint, the first stakes race of the season at Derby Lane.
"My boss (Robert Lambert) let me know when I got this pup how tremendous and talented he was," said Alex Hall, the 20-year-old manager-trainer of top kennel Red Oak Racing. "This dog has got some straight speed coming from the turn."
Flying Sebastian, the track's top dog, goes for his seventh consecutive victory in Race 6 (8:55 p.m.), one of two 550-yard qualifiers. The 73-pound greyhound drew box 3. He is the point leader with 32, six ahead of Jack's Cruze (Cal Holland kennel) and Kiowa Jordan Doc (Pauline O'Donnell). The other qualifier is Race 10 (10:11). Qualifying concludes Wednesday night for the Oct. 5 final.
A 19-month-old male out of a litter by Bd's Grayson and Flying Witness, Flying Sebastian is trying to uphold family tradition. Bd's Grayson was a stakes winner in 2009, taking the Firecracker Sprint at Wheeling Island (W.Va.). During a 44-win career, Bd's Grayson won seven in a row by 32 lengths. A five-length victory tonight by Flying Sebastian would match that superiority. "As young as Sebastian is, he's got one heck of a career ahead," Hall said. "I think he is just getting the best of himself right now."
Flying Sebastian has won 15 of 30 career starts and is the meet win leader with 11, one more than Budz Crosby (Alderson). "(Winning) seems to be an ongoing sequence with some of my young pups," Hall said.
MORE DOGS: So Divine (D'Arcy) clocked a meet-best time of 37.24 seconds at 660 yards Tuesday. She won the Grade B race by 14 lengths.
HORSES: Tampa Bay Downs will offer a record $2,695,000 in stakes purse money when its traditional 88th season kicks off Dec. 4 at Oldsmar. The 25-race stakes program is highlighted by the Grade II $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby, one of six graded stakes races and the Downs' only Kentucky Derby qualifier on Festival Day, March 8. The undercard includes Grade III events: the $200,000 Florida Oaks and the $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes.