ST. PETERSBURG — Meacham Field didn't know if he was coming or going.
He went from Alabama to Florida, back to Alabama and is now in Florida again. The Texas-bred sprinter has given Red Oak Racing kennel plenty of mileage.
Meacham Field, who is at Derby Lane because greyhound racing in Shorter, Ala., was suspended last year, is expected to contend for the $64,000 Sprint Classic, which begins tonight.
The Sprint Classic is Derby Lane's richest 550-yard stakes with a $25,000 first-place prize. Thirty-two dogs are entered in the four-round qualifying event. The eight with the most accumulative points advance to the March 3 final.
Meacham Field was in limbo when VictoryLand in Shorter ended live racing. He was inactive for five months and returned to Derby Lane in July 2011. The 73-pound greyhound has since exceeded expectations, including winning the $10,000 Matinee Idol on Jan. 28.
"I'm surprised he is a stakes winner," Red Oak Racing manager/trainer Gary Buckmaster said. "He was not the fastest dog in the (Matinee Idol) field, but he's got a great heart. If I had a half-dozen of Meacham Fields, they could carry the kennel with no problem."
Meacham Field, a 40-month-old male out of a litter by 2004 second-team All-America selection Fuzzys Cannon and Fuzzys Arizona, has been a consistent money-earner for owner Janelle Jackson of Rockdale, Texas. A winner in 30 of 105 races, Meacham Field has earned a paycheck (top-four finish) in 27 of his past 29 starts, including eight victories. His career-best times at 550 yards are 30.31 seconds at VictoryLand and 30.46 at Derby Lane.
"The perfect race for him would be to have the 7- or 8-hole and just go to the front," Buckmaster said. "He's not going to come and get six or seven dogs (from behind). He's got to be within a couple of lengths of the lead and hopefully the other dog is short."
Meacham Field drew Box 5 in Race 6 (8:55 p.m.). Other top greyhounds: M's Free Agent (Floyd & Porter kennel) and Serpent's Head (D'Arcy) in Race 4 (8:18); Magic Finch (Abernathy) in Race 8 (9:33) and defending champion Hi Noon Renegade (Nova) and Tiger Boy (McAllister) in Race 10 (10:11).
MORE DOGS: Derby Lane will have a 15-race holiday matinee Monday. No evening racing is scheduled, but the track will remain open for poker and simulcast wagering.
HORSES: Trainer Jamie Ness, who leads the nation in victories, attempts to win a stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar for the sixth consecutive meet with Western Prospector in the $$75,000 Turf Dash (Race 8, 3:42). … Trainer Brenda McCarthy recorded her 500th win Sunday with Sofi Ana, ridden by Rosemary Homeister Jr. … Jockey Jesse Garcia is sidelined with a broken collarbone and bruises to a lung and ribs sustained in a spill Feb. 9.