On the main stage, kennel owner Malcolm McAllister is most comfortable. His top greyhounds are megastars, often favored to win Derby Lane's richest races.
McAllister once called Flying Coal City "phenomenal" and Flying Stanley "one in a million." Each dog won five stakes at the St. Petersburg track, laying the foundation for the four-time leading kennel's recent milestone.
Tiger Boy's victory in the $8,000 St. Petersburg Inaugural on Jan. 7 gave McAllister its 20th stakes win at Derby Lane. Owned by Vince Berland of Abilene, Kan., Tiger Boy was the ninth greyhound to win a stakes for McAllister, the only kennel with at least one stakes victory in the past six meets. The stakes winners, all since 2007, have totaled $856,000 in first-place paychecks.
"If it wasn't for stakes races, I might as well go fishing," McAllister said. "(Berland) promised me the best dogs he had, and I stay (at Derby Lane) for that."
Barbara McAllister, Malcolm's wife and kennel trainer, said Tiger Boy appears capable of carrying on the kennel's tradition.
"It looks like this track fits him like a glove," she said. "Hopefully he's going to do what (Flying) Coal City did."
Flying Coal City, who was retired in September, captured the industry's Triple Crown in 2010 as All-America team captain and winner of the Rural Rube (best sprinter) and Flashy Sir (best distance) awards. Flying Stanley preceded him. He was the 2007 All-America team captain and Rural Rube recipient. Flying Stanley's win in the 2007 Derby Lane Million was worth $500,000.
Tiger Boy, a 27-month-old male out of a litter by Flying Penske and Flying Exquisite, is unbeaten in three Derby Lane starts. Previously, he raced at Mardi Gras in Hallandale Beach, Naples-Fort Myers, Southland Park in West Memphis, Ark., and VictoryLand in Shorter, Ala.
At 17 months old, he became the youngest winner of the $75,000 Hollywood World Classic at Mardi Gras. He clocked a season-best 550-yard time (29.88 seconds) at Naples-Fort Myers on Nov. 25 and set a 660 track record (36.16) at Southland Park on Aug. 19.
"He's smart and that's what makes him special," Malcolm McAllister said. "He's unreal as a three-eighths (660) dog. In February, he'll be on the backside to see if he can handle the distance.
"But until I see him take Coal City's emblem away, he's got a lot to run for."
HORSES: Delightful Magic is the 5-2 morning-line choice in the $100,000 Gasparilla (Race 8, 3:42 p.m.) and For Oby is the 5-2 favorite in the $100,000 Pasco (Race 10, 4:40) on Skyway Festival Day at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar.
HOLIDAY SCHEDULE: Derby Lane will hold a matinee performance on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There will be no night racing. Poker and simulcast wagering will be available at Derby Lane, Tampa Bay Downs and Tampa Greyhound Track.