ST. PETERSBURG — Art Allen is all or nothing. Jim Mercedes gives it his all, all the time.
The Patriot kennel greyhounds couldn't be more different. But when the Derby Lane meet concluded June 30, the pair had the same number of wins, 16 each, one behind top dog Tiger Boy, the 2011 All-America team captain for McAllister kennel.
Art Allen and Jim Mercedes were responsible for nearly 10 percent of Patriot's record-setting 333 victories. They became sources of satisfaction for Cal Holland Jr., who was hired as the kennel manager and trainer in December.
"I'm just glad for both because I didn't think they'd develop into the dogs they have become," Holland said. "When I started (with Patriot), Art Allen was a Grade C and Jim Mercedes a Grade B."
Both are entrenched now at Grade A, where Derby Lane's best dogs are grouped. Art Allen recorded his biggest victory in his final start of the meet, winning the $10,000 St. Petersburg Derby Consolation on June 30. It was his first stakes title in four attempts and the first stakes victory for Holland with Patriot.
Of Art Allen's victories, four came in stakes competition and nine at Grade A. The dual-distance performer had only one second-place showing from 44 starts. Owned by Kay Smith and Patriot owner Vinny Savill, Art Allen has 23 career victories in 68 races, all at Derby Lane. He has finished second just twice.
"Art Allen is all or nothing," Holland said. "If he breaks and gets around (the turn) second or third, you better be a very strong dog, because he can put some move on coming down the home stretch."
A 26-month-old male out of a litter by Flying Penske and Sol Venus, Art Allen made his first 36 starts on the 550-yard course before trying 660. He has three littermates running at Derby Lane: Art Almost, sixth-place finisher in the $30,000 St. Petersburg Derby, and Grade A winners Art Alex and Art's Adeline.
Jim Mercedes is a pure sprinter for owner Jack Sherck. At the previous meet, all his wins came at Grade A. He made 42 starts. In his past 39 races, Jim Mercedes cashed 36 times with top-four finishes, including 17 wins.
The 30-month-old male out of a litter from Lonesome Cry and Sol Regina came to Derby Lane in November from Flagler in Miami, where he won four of 22 starts. He has 24 career victories in 82 races, all at 550 yards. His best stakes finish is third in the $8,000 T.L. Weaver Memorial Challenge on June 9.
"Jim Mercedes puts out 110 percent in every race and hardly ever misses the (tote) board," Holland said. "He's a little bit ornerier and meaner (than Art Allen), but he's run with the best … and beat them."
MORE DOGS: Venus Espinosa of Patriot is the top dog at the current meet with five victories.