ST. PETERSBURG — The 70th edition of the $20,000 Gold Trophy Juvenile Stakes has been as much about patrons wearing coats and ponchos as greyhounds running in the rain. There have been heavy downpours and lightning, delaying some races in the final three qualifying rounds.
But for one of eight finalists in tonight's 550-yard championship at Derby Lane, it will be a watershed moment. One dog will earn its first stakes win in Race 8 (9:30 p.m.). First place pays $9,000.
"All dogs in the race would prefer just drier conditions," said owner Catherine D'Arcy, whose Craigie Londoner represents D'Arcy Kennel. "It's been a quagmire out there for the last couple of (qualifying) nights."
The wet conditions didn't seem to affect Upcomin Design, the only greyhound to win three of four qualifying races. The Charter Kennel speedster led qualifiers with 56 points and hasn't lost since finishing third in the series opener May 9. A 22-month-old son of 2002 all-American and multiple-stakes winner Dodgem By Design, Upcomin Design is the youngest sprinter and will attempt to give first-year trainer Danielle Asbury her first stakes victory. He is owned by Lelethe Frith-Carnabucci.
"I'd like to see him get in front, pull away from everybody and not get in any trouble," said Asbury, who also advanced Vegas Rooster. "I'm surprised he's done this well."
The field from the rail: Backwood Nan (Campbell Greyhound Racing), Deerfield Betty (Filipelli & O'Donnell), Upcomin Design, Suppliesrlimited (Abernathy), Craigie Londoner, Greta's Searchin (Capabal), Vegas Rooster and Hi Noon Rembrant (Nova). Craigie Londoner, Suppliesrlimited and Upcomin Design share the lead in lifetime victories with nine apiece.
Craigie Londoner, a 25-month-old male sired by 2003 Derby Lane wins leader and multiple-stakes winner Lonesome Cry, can give kennel owner-trainer Mick D'Arcy his first Gold Trophy title. "He's won every Derby Lane stakes except this one," said Catherine, Mick's daughter. She and twin brother Michael purchased Craigie Londoner from John Boyd in December after he wasn't sold at the national meet in Abilene, Kan.
"He'd only been in our kennel for a week or two when we bought him," Catherine said. "It was actually Michael's idea. The reason we picked Londoner was that we were both born in London, and it just seemed a fitting name. It couldn't have been a better decision. He's been amazing. He loves the rail and isn't afraid of anything. He has done everything right so far — always hits the board (25 of 32 top-four finishes) and has a good win percentage (28 percent)."
MEMORIAL DAY: Derby Lane will hold a matinee-evening doubleheader Monday.