ST. PETERSBURG — When 2011 All-America team captain Tiger Boy won the St. Petersburg Derby last year, it gave kennel owners Malcolm and Barbara McAllister a career sweep of the stakes program at Derby Lane.
Tiger Boy is no longer around and soon nor will the McAllisters.
The McAllisters, who are retiring June 30, will compete tonight in their final stakes race, the 87-year-old St. Petersburg Derby. The four-time kennel champions have entered Kiowa Kay Dan, Flying Ignatius, Flying Welsh and Flyin Pink Floyd in the four 660-yard qualifying races (4, 6, 8 and 10). The top four finishers in each event advance to Wednesday night's semifinals, where the first four greyhounds head to the $30,000 Derby and the remaining dogs start in the $10,000 Consolation Derby, both on June 28. They are Derby Lane's final stakes races of the 2012-13 season. Post time for tonight's opening qualifier is 8:18.
"This is my last rodeo, and I've won every stakes race that is conceivable to win," Malcolm McAllister said. "I want to go out with a bang, but I won't be surprised if anyone else wins it."
The 66-year-old London native informed Derby Lane chief of operations David Tiano in December that this would be his kennel's last meet. The following day, McAllister gave the news to Vince Berland and son Lance Berland, who have sent many outstanding athletes to the operation from their Flying Eagles Kennel in Abilene, Kan. The Berlands are now transporting their Derby Lane dogs to Red Oak Racing kennel.
"David Tiano wished me the best and said, 'I'm proud of you. You've done good,' " McAllister said. "And I told the Berlands that I didn't want to break in any (more) pups."
Down to 34 active greyhounds, the McAllister operation still ranks third in the 16-kennel standings. The McAllisters have won more than 4,000 races and 25 stakes since arriving in 2005 from Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque, Texas.
"I'd like to think we could win (the Derby), because I'd like to go out with a win," Barbara McAllister said. "I'm going to miss the dogs."
The Derby pays $13,000 for first place, and the Consolation Derby winner earns $4,400. The morning-line favorites are Kiowa Jordan Doc (Pauline O'Donnell kennel, Race 4), Art Allen (Patriot, 6), Lk's Tomb Raider (Lashmet, 8), and Flyin Pink Floyd (10).
"There have been so many good dogs, but my heart is leaving the business," Malcolm McAllister said. "I've got to think of my wife and Malcolm, and the future — what's left of it."
HORSES: Entries close Wednesday for the Summer Festival of Racing on June 30 and July 1 at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar. Both cards will feature eight races with daily post time at 12:35 p.m. The races can only be seen and wagered on at the Downs. A $5,000 Jockey Challenge will be part of the festivities.