ST. PETERSBURG — One win, zero confidence.
Budz Crosby had little else on his profile in December when he arrived at Derby Lane. But kennel owner Jan Alderson was struck by what Arkansas kennel operator Randy Finegan said when he recommended the greyhound.
"He's got talent," she said.
Budz Crosby, an invader from Southland Park in West Memphis, has developed into one of Derby Lane's leading 660-yard performers. He is a blue-collar dog, purchased for only $1,500 at the National Greyhound Association spring meet in 2011.
"It took (Budz Crosby) a while to get his confidence back," Alderson said. "We're lucky he did, because a lot of times that doesn't happen."
Finegan believed Budz Crosby would be a good fit for the St. Petersburg facility, where Finegan once had a booking. Led by track top dog Extruding Dream, Finegan's Magic City kennel captured the 2005-06 win championship. Extruding Dream was an All-America first-team selection and winner of the Flashy Sir award (nation's top distance greyhound). Finegan's trainer was Doug Flint, now with Hambleton Racing at Derby Lane.
Alderson started Budz Crosby on the 550-yard course. After winning only one of his first nine starts, he was moved to 660.
"It looked like he had some finish," Alderson said, "and it gave him more time to get going."
Budz Crosby has since raced exclusively at 660. In 50 starts at that distance, he has 14 victories and placed in the money 33 times with top-four finishes for owner Richard Armington Jr. He has clocked the season's two fastest times, including a career-best 37.39 seconds on July 25. Budz Crosby has five victories from 13 starts this meet, and five of Alderson's seven Grade A wins.
After running eighth Wednesday, Budz Crosby is being given time off to rest for the $75,000 Holiday Distance Challenge (formerly called the 660-Yard Challenge) on Dec. 1-15. The 81-pound greyhound placed third in the $30,000 St. Petersburg Derby on June 30, losing to 2011 All-America team captain Tiger Boy.
"We're very happy with him," Alderson said. "Crosby wasn't sure about things at first. But he kept going, and then he finally started to see that everything was going to be okay. It takes a lot of patience and a lot of luck to get a dog like him back (to being confident)."
Budz Crosby is a 35-month-old male out of a litter by Kiowa Mon Manny and Craigie Maxi. Of his 15 victories at Derby Lane, he has come from off the pace 12 times.
"Just like any good dog, he's got a lot of heart," Alderson said.
Alderson's kennel is a four-generation operation. Greg Lesperance, her 30-year-old son, is the trainer. Jan's grandfather, Perry Alderson, started the kennel in 1939. Eddie Alderson, her father, took over in 1963.
"Greg really likes it and he takes a lot of pressure off me," she said.