ST. PETERSBURG — The sheriff is taking his badge off, at least for a while.
Flying Stanley, who has ruled at Derby Lane since his arrival in 2007, hopes to make a rousing exit tonight on one of the track's most celebrated performances.
The McAllister Kennels' sprinter goes for his ninth stakes win and 55th career victory in the $85,000 Sprint Classic, Derby Lane's premier 550-yard race.
Trained by Barbara McAllister, Flying Stanley will make his final start at the St. Petersburg greyhound meet. Owner Vince Berland of Kansas-based Flying Eagles Kennel said his 3-year-old red brindle male out of a litter by Kiowa Sweet Trey and Flying Rimes has other business to tend to.
Flying Stanley's agenda includes the $75,000 Hollywood World Classic on March 12-29 at Mardi Gras Racetrack in Hallandale Beach, where he is the defending champ, the $25,000 Kansas Bred Sprint on July 9-19 at the Woodlands in Kansas City, Kan., and a stint on the breeding farm.
"He's worth too much money off the track than he is on it," kennel owner Malcolm McAllister said. "Australia and Ireland are ringing the phone off the hook for his services."
McAllister said he has been told by Lance Berland, Vince's son, that Flying Stanley's chance of returning to race later this year at Derby Lane is "90 percent."
Flying Stanley drew the No. 1 box. In his past 25 races since Oct. 6, Flying Stanley has only four losses, all to Brady Thomas, who has the No. 2 post. The Floyd & Porter standout has four stakes wins among 72 career victories.
The rest of the field in post position order: Flying Fabian, Kinloch Brae, Djays Itchintogo, Ballet Lady, Flying Macbeth and Red Dirt Road.
With first place worth $25,000, Flying Stanley could raise his industry-leading career purse earnings above $680,000, according to NGA spokesman Tim Horan. Flying Stanley also is the favorite for the 2007 Rural Rube, an award for the nation's top sprinter given by the National Greyhound Association. The voting deadline is today.
"(Stanley) is unbelievable, one in a million," Malcolm McAllister said. "He gives 110 percent every time he runs."
At Derby Lane, Flying Stanley has captured five stakes, highlighted by the 2007 Derby Lane Million, and won 33 of 45 starts by 176½ combined lengths (5-length average).
"Malcolm has done an awesome job with him," Vince Berland said. "Stanley is the genuine, superstar dog. Never in my life will I ever hope to have another one like him."
Before the Sprint Classic (Race 10, 10:15 p.m.), Derby Lane has planned on-track recognitions for retired Scott Free and Irish standout Ardkill Jamie.
Scott Free, 12, was the 1997 All-America team captain and Rural Rube winner. Ardkill Jamie, 4, a leading contender for 2007 Irish dog of the year, came to the area for the Derby Lane Million, which was canceled.
TAMPA BAY DOWNS: Stakes winners Cash's Girl and Tens Holy Spirit are among nine starters in the $65,000 Wayward Lass Stakes today at the Oldsmar thoroughbred track. The 11/16-mile event for fillies and mares 4 years and older will be Race 9 (4:09 p.m.). … Two meet records are likely to be broken, both by defending champs. Trainer Jamie Ness has 41 wins, three off the mark set by the late Don Rice (2001-02). Jockey Daniel Centeno has 85 wins and is on pace to eclipse his record of 125 last year. … Nominations close Sunday for Festival Day on March 15. The feature of four stakes is the Grade III $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby. Undefeated War Pass is expected to be nominated by trainer Nick Zito, who will probably send Sam F. Davis winner Fierce Wind to either the Grade II $300,000 Rebel Stakes on March 15 at Oaklawn Park Race Track in Hot Springs, Ark., or the Grade I $1-million Florida Derby on March 29 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach.