ST. PETERSBURG — Red Dirt Road vs. Flying Macbeth.
It is a rivalry that has dominated the meet at Derby Lane and was expected to continue tonight in the $50,000 Fall Sprint Stakes.
That all changed Thursday, when Red Dirt Road of La Rosa Enterprises was scratched with a leg injury. With the track's all-time meet wins leader out of the 550-yard race, Flying Macbeth is the likely favorite to win his first career stakes.
Flying Macbeth drew the No. 1 box for Race 10 (10:07 p.m.) after the McAllister Kennels sprinter finished as the qualifying points leader with 50 under trainer Barbara McAllister. The rest of the field: Backwood Hombre, Lamorge Streaker, Flyin Home Depot, Kaias Sequoyah, Ww Jungle Dizzy, Tnj Super Hero and Craigie Penske.
Red Dirt Road suffered a slight tear of his left rear hind muscle in Wednesday's final qualifying round, finishing last for the first time in 116 career starts. The Kim McAuliffe trainee entered with a series-leading 42 points and assured a final berth. He is expected to be sidelined at least two months.
"When (kennel operator) Tom (La Rosa) found out the news about Red Dirt Road, he said, 'Can you believe that?' '' track spokeswoman Vera Filipelli said. "He is our leading All-America candidate."
Flying Macbeth will be in his fourth stakes final this year and sixth overall. He has 61 lifetime victories. Kaias Sequoyah of La Rosa seeks his 65th career win and first stakes victory. Palm Beach invader Backwood Hombre won his last two qualifiers for Campbell Greyhound Racing.
Lamorge Streaker is expected to contest the early pace for Alderson Kennel. One of two females in the field, she has 35 career wins with a top-three finish in 17 of her last 18 races.
"She always tries her heart out," kennel owner Jan Alderson said. "She needs a big, huge break and some luck. I'm just happy I've got (a dog) in the final."
HORSES: Several Tampa Bay Downs horsemen had fine summer meets that ended Sunday. At Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pa., Gerald Bennett (27 wins) finished second in the trainer standings; Ronnie Allen Jr. (82 wins) was third and Willie Martinez (64 wins) fifth in the jockey race. At Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., former TBD riding champion Jose Lezcano captured the title with 141 wins and led in purse earnings with $4,543,236. Two-time defending TBD leading rider Daniel Centeno ranked sixth with 63 victories. … Deputy Glitters, winner of the 2006 Tampa Bay Derby, has been retired to stud at Journeyman Stud Farm in Reddick. … Kenneth McPeek-trained Dream Empress pulled won the $500,000 Darley Alcibiades Stakes Friday and captured a Breeders' Cup berth. … Jockey John Velazquez was hospitalized Friday after a spill at Keeneland. He lay motionless on the track for several minutes but was alert and moving his arms and legs later Friday at the hospital.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.