ST. PETERSBURG — He has the name. He has the game. Tonight he is looking for fame in the $50,000 Fall Sprint Stakes at Derby Lane.
Joey Ice is in the 550-yard final of the track's first stakes race of the season, a feat seldom seen by Capabal kennel owner Henry Parker.
"I've been (at Derby Lane) 23 years and I can't remember too many dogs with only 10 starts making a sprint final," Parker said. "I didn't really want to put him in (the Fall Sprint), but he's pretty fast."
Joey Ice will start from Box 2 in Race 10 (10:11 p.m.). Other starters, from the rail: Ed N Eddie (Hambleton Racing kennel), Kiowa Jordan Doc (Pauline O'Donnell), Pj Fresno (Abernathy), Kiowa Zabia (Pauline O'Donnell), Jack's Cruze (Cal Holland), Flying Sebastian (Red Oak Racing) and Craigie Beck (Cal Holland). The winner earns $22,000.
Joey Ice has lived up to the hype of breeder-owner Joey Lingle, who sent the 21-month-old pup and his nine littermates to Parker during the summer. Joey Ice won his Fall Sprint qualifying debut Sept. 21, clocking 30.51 seconds. He wound up tied for third in the four-round qualifying point standings with 42, three behind Jack's Cruze.
The 73-pound male began his career with victories in five of his first seven starts. Overall, he has won six of 14 races. Four of Joey Ice's siblings also already have wins. The other five have yet to race.
"When I sent Henry the litter, he kept asking me how good they were and to grade the dogs before he ran them," said Lingle, 53, who raised the greyhounds on his 10-acre farm in Blair, Okla. "I said, 'Joey Ice is going to be your stakes race dog, and you're going to have about five other Grade A's; the rest of them will be B's and C's.' Henry laughed like he didn't believe me. Now I guess he does."
Lingle said Parker's "patience with greyhounds" was instrumental in sending his pups to him for the first time. Longtime dog man Nick De Salvo made the connection.
Sired by 2011 Hall of Fame inductee Kiowa Sweet Trey, Joey Ice is out of the first litter produced by Queen Rania, a former Daytona Beach sprinter purchased by Lingle after her racing career ended. He is trained by Belinda Parker.
"(Joey Ice) doesn't care who's around him … he's going to the front," Lingle said.
"I think everybody tries to give the best dog in the litter the best name, and that's just his personality. He's just ice cold. He has got more under the hood that he's shown so far. Hopefully, he'll show it (tonight)."
Henry Parker said dogs like Joey Ice don't come along every day.
"Reality is someone who raises 10 dogs and you get one like Joey Ice," he said. "That's pretty good."
Kennel owners Jim and Kayruth Abernathy are hoping for a memorable finale from Pj Fresno, who will leave for Southland Park in West Memphis, Ark., after the race.