ST. PETERSBURG — So far, so good for La Rosa Enterprises.
In the $20,000 Fall Juvenile Stakes at Derby Lane, La Rosa is the only kennel to advance three pups into tonight's third round of qualifying.
La Rosa's Shotgun Charlie, Rosey Rookie and Tk Rapala rank among the top six in points. With Magic City's Reward Trent the only undefeated greyhound in the series, kennel operator Tom La Rosa wants to take as many dogs as possible into the Nov. 15 final, which is expected to have Reward Trent as well.
"Half a loaf is better than none," La Rosa said. "Right now Reward Trent is the top dog to beat. He's got fantastic speed."
Sixteen dogs have advanced to tonight's two 550-yard qualifiers (Race 6, 8:54 p.m., and Race 10, 10:30 p.m.).
For the first time in the event, La Rosa dogs go against Reward Trent, the points leader with 32. In Race 6, Shotgun Charlie (24 points) and Tk Rapala (22) face Reward Trent. Race 10 includes Rosey Rookie (22), Lester Raines' Kelsos Scotsclan (26) and Campbell Racing's Backwood Cash (22).
The top eight dogs in points after Wednesday's fourth round advance to the final. First place pays $9,000.
The La Rosa trio has performed well under trainer Kim McAuliffe, each winning once in the Fall Juvenile. In 58 combined lifetime starts, they have 22 victories, nine at Grade A.
"Rosey has been a smart-running dog, keeps pushing forward and tries to find places to run," La Rosa said. "Rapala comes from behind, is a wide runner and has a lot of ability.
"Shotgun showed some potential with early speed as a young dog. He hurt his ankle but has overcome that and progressed well. He's got that big burst of speed to the turn."
La Rosa knows speed will be necessary against Reward Trent, the meet wins leader with 17 from 30 starts. Trained by Doug Flint, Reward Trent won his first two qualifiers by a total of 14 lengths and posted the best time, 30.55 seconds. He has 20 career victories, 13 at Grade A.
MORE DOGS: The industry will lose two tracks in 2010 after Massachusetts voters Tuesday approved a ban of greyhound racing in the state. Raynham-Taunton and Wonderland will be affected. It is not known if the two tracks will remain open for simulcast wagering and the possibility of gaining slot machines.
HORSES: A duel between Tampa Bay Downs graduates Soldier's Dancer, Silver Tree and Icy Atlantic in the $150,000 Bonnie Heath Turf Cup (Race 4, 1:46 p.m.) headlines the first of eight stakes on the Florida Million card today at Calder Race Course at Miami Gardens. The 12-race program features purses totaling more than $1.2-million.
Keeneland sale: A weanling colt by a son of Giant's Causeway brought $310,000 for the top price Friday during the November Breeding Stock Sale in Lexington, Ky.