Make us your home page

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Greyhound's stakes victory comes with a few firsts

ST. PETERSBURG — Ken Lesperance did something he rarely does after Craigie Mr Venus did something he'd never done.

After Craigie Mr Venus' first career stakes win in the $20,000 Gold Trophy Juvenile Stakes on May 24 at Derby Lane, the manager and trainer for Lester Raines Kennel talked to a reporter.

Standing nearby was wife and assistant trainer Jeanne, who was cooling off the sprinter with a water hose.

"I usually have Jeanne do all the interviews, because she's a good talker," Ken said.

The Lesperances were in a celebratory mood after Craigie Mr Venus dominated seven rivals in the 69-year-old event, Derby Lane's fourth oldest. The 26-month-old brindle male out of a litter by Dodgem By Design and Greys Starwishes had more experience, the best rush to the turn and a post position (No. 8) that favored outside runners.

Before Craigie Mr Venus got loose for a 6-length victory over Flyin Home Depot, 10 of the day's first 21 races were won by greyhounds in the eight box.

"The rail was kind of dead," Ken said. "I felt confident as long as they didn't tighten the track up. He won three times (in the series) from the eight hole."

The winning time of 31.04 seconds for 550 yards was the slowest in the past seven Gold Cups.

Craigie Mr Venus, third wagering choice at 9-2, rushed in front by 2 lengths approaching the first turn and got a break when Forest Dylan nudged Flyin Home Depot entering the backstretch.

"I was a little worried about how close Home Depot was behind him, but the (No.) 1 dog (Forest Dylan) took care of that going wide in the first turn," Jeanne said. "That's when I felt a sigh of relief."

Craigie Mr Venus and Ctw On The Plaza are the top sprinters in the 60-dog kennel, Jeanne said.

"(Venus) has come around since the stakes race started," Ken said. "He's got a lot of heart, and he's his own dog. He was more mature in the race, basically. That experience paid off.

"Winning is a feather in his hat; it's a steppingstone. He should have an above-average career. There are a lot of nicer dogs talent-wise, but he's a good, solid Grade A."

Craigie Mr Venus, winner for the 16th time in 51 starts, earned $9,000 for Oklahoma owner Steven Boyd. It was the second Gold Cup title for Lester Raines and first in 27 years for Ken. Lester Raines became the first kennel to win at least one stakes at the St. Petersburg track each year since 2006.

"Winning always feels good," Jeanne said.

More Derby Lane: The track begins its summer schedule Monday with eight weekly performances. The Monday matinee has been eliminated. Simulcast wagering and poker are not affected. … The kennel roster stands at 17 with today's departure of Wayne Strong Kennel. … The $8,000 T.L. Weaver Memorial begins qualifying Wednesday. The top four finishers in two semifinal races advance to the 550-yard final June 7. First place is worth $3,200.

Greyhound's stakes victory comes with a few firsts 05/30/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 9:15am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. College World Series: Gators, LSU face off in all-SEC finals


    OMAHA, Neb. — The matchup for the College World Series finals bolsters the case for those who say the best baseball in the land is played in the SEC.

    Florida’s Brady Singer, delivering during a CWS win over Louisville last week, is scheduled to start tonight against LSU.
  2. Jones: Fox Sports Sun shows depth in Rays coverage

    TV and Radio

    tom jones' two cents

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) makes a run home for a score in the in the final game of a three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and AL East rival the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
  3. Brian Boyle says returning to Lightning a 'huge option'


    As former Lightning forward Brian Boyle approaches free agency this week, he said he's trying to stay busy.

    Former Tampa Bay Lightning player center Brian Boyle (24), on the ice during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa on March 16, 2017.
  4. Rays journal: Blake Snell to rejoin rotation, Erasmo Ramirez heads to bullpen

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Blake Snell is rejoining the Rays' rotation, but the move has as much to do with helping the bullpen as it does with Snell's improvement during his time at Triple-A Durham.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (30) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.
  5. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.