Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gaming limits cost Derby Lane third kennel

ST. PETERSBURG — The departure last week of Lester Raines kennel from Derby Lane took some by surprise. Yet, it wasn't surprising.

Lester Raines is the third longtime operation to leave in the past 2 1/2 years, an exodus that started shortly after former Gov. Charlie Crist signed a five-year compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida in 2010 for gaming exclusivity within the state. The St. Petersburg greyhound track lost Charter in 2011 and Wayne Ward in 2010.

Though other states have let dog tracks enhance business with casino gaming — and subsequently boost their purses — Derby Lane has not been able to because of the deal approved by Crist and the Legislature. With Derby Lane's purse structure at $60 a point — the minimum ensured by the track and based on money wagered — Lester Raines moved to Southland Park in West Memphis, Ark., a facility that pays a casino-aided $260 a point. Jeanne Lesperance, who managed Lester Raines at Derby Lane with husband Ken, said money was the factor in their departure.

"Five kennels (at Southland Park) ran out more than $1 million last year," she said. "If Crist hadn't given the (gaming) monopoly to the Indians, then the points (at Derby Lane) wouldn't have kept steadily dropping."

Patriot, Derby Lane's kennel champion the past two meets, earned less than $500,000 last season. "It costs so much to run the dogs," Patriot manager-trainer Cal Holland Jr. said. "It's just tough for these big kennels that want more money to stay."

Jeanne Lesperance had been at Derby Lane since 1994, the last 12 1/2 years with Lester Raines. "It has nothing to do with Derby Lane," she said. "It is just the opportunity."

Derby Lane director of racing Jerry Miller replaced Lester Raines with a Jacksonville kennel owned by John Lashmet. "(Lester Raines' move) was all economics," Miller said. "They may think it's the promised land now … and I hope they make a good living for themselves. But I think when all is said and done, you'll see that promised land start to go downhill. They all know that Derby Lane is quality racing, even though it might not be for the same money because of (gaming) machines."

John Graham, manager-trainer for Pauline O'Donnell kennel and formerly with Wayne Ward, said, "The state of Florida is behind the times on their parimutuel offerings. (Derby Lane) does so well at trying to encourage us to stay, and the stakes program is so good. If Derby Lane was on equal footing with states that are offering casinos, they wouldn't lose anybody."

MORE DOGS: The $8,000 Inaugural Stakes is tonight in Race 10 (10:11 p.m.).

HORSES: Tampa Bay Downs has the $75,000 Turf Dash Stakes (Race 9, 4:25) today in Oldsmar. … Trainer Jamie Ness (wins) and owner Midwest Thoroughbreds (wins and purse earnings) captured 2012 national titles.

Gaming limits cost Derby Lane third kennel 01/04/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 4, 2013 8:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Clarity coming this week on Florida Gators, Malik Zaire

    Blogs

    After months of speculation, we could finally get some clarity this week on the Florida Gators and graduate transfer quarterback Malik Zaire.

    SEC flags outside the hotel of last year's spring meetings in Destin. This year's meetings could have a huge impact on the Florida Gators' season.
  2. Jose De Leon sent back to minors after helping Rays win

    Blogs

    RHP Jose De Leon worked 2 2/3 innings to get the win in his Rays debut Monday and then was optioned back to Triple-A Durham.

    De Leon was brought up to provide length and depth in the bullpen after the Rays played 15 innings on Sunday, and he did that, allowing three runs on four hits while throwing 69 …

  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Monday's Rays-Rangers game

    The Heater

    The Rays had good reason to have faith in RHP Erasmo Ramirez starting Monday after closing Sunday based on his resiliency, versatility and efficiency. But it still turned out to be a bad idea as he allowed four runs without getting through three innings.

  5. Rays journal: Dugout bench becomes bed for Logan Morrison at end of long night

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — The Rays found creative ways to get through the physical and mental fatigue of the 6½ hours they spent playing — and ultimately winning — Sunday's game in Minnesota.

    Corey Dickerson drapes towels over an exhausted Logan Morrison in the dugout during the 15th inning of Sunday’s marathon victory.