ST. PETERSBURG — McAllister Kennels led box-to-wire.
Six performances into Derby Lane's first year-round racing season, McAllister moved atop the kennel standings and never left.
The operation, handled by husband and wife Malcolm and Barbara McAllister, dominated in winning its first Derby Lane championship, setting a track record with 643 victories, capturing six of 12 stakes and achieving national honors with All-America greyhounds Flying Stanley and Flyin Bridgeport.
McAllister's masterful effort highlighted the 2007-08 meet that ended Monday. Derby Lane began its 84th season Tuesday, with the first six months being run under Tampa Greyhound Track's permit.
While a struggling economy slowed track momentum in April, May and June, McAllister lived in the fast lane all year.
"Malcolm seems to have found the formula for racing at Derby Lane and how to get the dogs ready and get the most out of them," said Vey Weaver, track president and chairman of the board. "I give Malcolm a lot of credit, because he's a fine trainer. But it's the stock being bred by Vince Berland (of Abilene, Kan.). You really have to give them both credit."
With an all-time high of 463 performances, records were bound to fall. McAllister won 20.2 percent of its 3,182 starts to finish 218 victories ahead of Cal Holland, which led in starts with 3,485.
La Rosa Enterprises' Red Dirt Road was the standout greyhound. The T.L. Weaver Memorial champion set a track record with 43 wins in 77 starts and recorded the season's best time of 30.06 seconds at 550 yards. Five wins behind was McAllister's Flying Macbeth, who clocked the fastest 660-yard time of 37.14 seconds. La Rosa was the only kennel to win six races on one performance (March 31).
Derby Lane had one of its best seasons for accolades. Flying Stanley was the All-America captain and Rural Rube award winner (top sprinter), while Flyin Bridgeport earned the Flashy Sir (best distance dog). Two others attained All-America status: D'Arcy Kennel's Dreamy Blossom (first team) and Floyd & Porter's Brady Thomas (second team). Retired kennel operator Charles "Chuck" Marriott and former runner Talentedmrripley were elected to the Greyhound Hall of Fame. Inductions are in October.
Five kennels left during the meet, mainly for business reasons. Thorne/Herron was the latest to leave last weekend. The Derby Lane Million was canceled (lack of entries), and Monday matinees were eliminated in June (business decision), leaving eight weekly performances. Monday matinees are expected to return in January. The Derby Club remains closed and will reopen at a date yet to be determined, Weaver said.
Sixteen kennels remain with a 12-race stakes schedule totaling $418,200 in purses. The first stakes is the $50,000 Fall Sprint from Sept. 20 to Oct. 4.