ST. PETERSBURG — The second that Eddie McDonald laid eyes on Tmc's Moonbeam, he knew his greyhound liked to be first.
"We have a home that has a glassed-in room where we can watch our puppies," said McDonald, who owns a 350-acre farm in Bridgeport, Texas. "We noticed he was very active with the other (dogs). When he would start running like they all did, he'd try to be out in front. And if he wasn't, he'd nip somebody in the butt and get out in front, too. He was a fun dog at home."
So when Tmc's Moonbeam won the $50,000 Husker Magic Fall Sprint on Sept. 30 at Derby Lane, McDonald wasn't surprised.
"We planned on winning. … Honestly, we did," said McDonald, 74, who traveled more than 1,200 miles to watch his homebred greyhound win his first stakes title. "I had faith in that booger. He's mine. He's one I think this is not his last (stakes title). I think there's a three-eighths (stakes, the $70,000 Holiday Distance Challenge on Dec. 9-23) coming up, and I believe he'll win it, too."
Tmc's Moonbeam, the third wagering favorite who paid $9.40 to win for Steubenville kennel, showed his endurance with a race-winning move entering the final turn. He overtook pace-setter and eventual third-place finisher Kentucky Boy (Cal Holland kennel), and won by two lengths over Se's Wepon X (Nova).
The 40-month-old male from a litter by Tmc's Remedy and Kiowa Venice appeared fresh from a seven-day rest between qualifying and the finale in a scheduling change necessitated by Hurricane Irma. His 550-yard time of 30.68 seconds was the fastest among 64 dogs that raced on the evening card at that distance.
"I knew he'd be strong after the break, because he's a three-eighths dog and it takes a little while to get your rhythm back," Steubenville manager-trainer John (Jay) Graham said. "With another week layoff (before the title race), I knew he was going to be really fresh for the finals."
Tmc's Moonbeam, who was making his 100th career start (62 races at 550 yards, 38 at 660), won for the 17th time. The $22,000 first-place paycheck elevated his lifetime earnings to $40,290.
Graham won his first stakes crown since 2013 All-America first-team selection Kiowa Jordan Doc captured the $8,000 Inaugural in 2015. Graham also won the 11-year-old Fall Sprint (renamed the Husker Magic in 2016) for the second time, the first coming with Kiowa Jordan Doc in 2013.
OBITUARY: Donald (Donnie) Ryan, 57, of Abilene, Kan., who operated Ryan Farms and bred many greyhounds that raced at Derby Lane, died Sept. 30 because of undisclosed causes. A celebration of life for Mr. Ryan will be at noon Wednesday at Elks Lodge in Abilene.
MORE DOGS: The $20,000 Gold Trophy Juvenile begins qualifying Saturday night in Races 4, 6, 8, and 10 at Derby Lane. The event features two qualifying rounds with the championship race Oct. 14.