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)

Jason Billington's first greyhound, Special Purpose, wins in stakes debut

ST. PETERSBURG — Family surrounded Jason Billington at his 5-acre farm in Murray, Ky., ready to watch the Derby Lane race on the Night of Stars XXIII national simulcast via Internet.

Billington, 42, knew the night could be special if his greyhound ran with purpose.

Special Purpose did.

A former resident of St. Pete Beach and part-owner of an insurance agency in Murray, Billington said it was "like winning the lottery" after Special Purpose, the first racing greyhound he ever purchased, won his stakes debut July 2.

"I'm a little overwhelmed. But at the same time, I'm real happy," Billington said. "God gives us the ability to run fast, and God gives us desire. I'm just glad Special Purpose has some of both.

"When you buy a dog out of a litter, he could be a (Grade) D dog his whole life. Some guys have dogs for 20 years and never have a stakes dog. I'm more pleased than anybody could ever be."

It was the first career stakes win for Billington and Charter Kennel trainer Danielle Asbury. Special Purpose, a 23-month-old male out of a litter by national two-time leading sire Dodgem By Design and Power Of Faith, faced seven rivals that totaled 540 starts and 155 wins.

They included stakes winner Aerial Battle and two-time stakes winner Flying Coal City, leading winners at the Derby Lane meet that ended June 30.

In his 25th career start and second since an on-track fall on June 14, Special Purpose led box to wire for his 11th victory, winning by 5 lengths at 13-1 odds.

His time for 550 yards was a not-so-fast 30.86 seconds.

"There's more to dog racing than flat-out speed," Billington said.

"And that's something as a newcomer I'm learning."

Special Purpose recorded his second win of Derby Lane's new season on Wednesday. He has helped Billington overcome the loss of family pet Maverick, a 12-year-old nonracing Italian greyhound who died in 2008.

"I was torn up," Billington said.

"I told my wife (Katherine) I loved greyhound racing and began to pull my notes."

The information was 14 years old when Billington first contacted Charter about getting into the business.

"Back then, I didn't have any money and moved back to Kentucky," he said.

Billington began bonding with greyhounds at Derby Lane, where he used to watch thoroughbred simulcasts from 1994-96.

Special Purpose is part of a nine-pup litter whelped at Tanner Kennels in Elgin, Texas. He came to Derby Lane in February.

Billington, who also owns Wheeling Island (W.Va.) Grade AA sprinter Petro Mcpiercy, has yet to see Special Purpose race in person.

"When Special Purpose started schooling, Jay Childs (Charter's farm development program manager) said he thought the dog would be well suited for Derby Lane," Billington said.

"That was great (because) that is where I fell in love with dog racing."

Jason Billington's first greyhound, Special Purpose, wins in stakes debut 07/09/10 [Last modified: Friday, July 9, 2010 10:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Jake Odorizzi admitted he probably should have gone on the DL sooner than late July for the back stiffness that was keeping him from throwing the ball where he wanted to. He has since found an impressive groove, with another strong outing Saturday.

  4. Matt Baker's takeaways from Florida State-N.C. State


    RB Cam Akers still looks like a former high school quarterback at times. His first two touches (30 yards) were special, but the freshman juked instead of powering ahead on his third (an unsuccessful third-and-1 rush). That's why the Seminoles are easing him in, as they did with Dalvin Cook three years ago.

    Running back Cam Akers carries for a first down during the third quarter as FSU eases the freshman into the college game.
  5. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.