ST. PETERSBURG — The greyhound that once committed a costly turn of the head turned 3 years old Friday. He is the top dog at Derby Lane, a career winner of 53 races and has been the wagering favorite in 30 of his past 32 starts.
He is called "a darn nice dog" by track director of racing Jerry Miller.
But Flyin Carnoustie runs with an asterisk. The McAllister kennel sprinter has an "interfered" racing line, which makes him ineligible for Derby Lane stakes races and will have a lasting impact after he retires.
"It's affected his stud career," kennel owner Malcolm McAllister said. "Who's going to breed to a dog with a ticket? They'll think the pups will be the same as their daddy."
A ticket for interference — also known as a strike — is issued by track judges when a greyhound turns his head in a race and makes contact with another dog. When that happens, Miller said the dog is taken off the active list and must school to the satisfaction of the judges before returning. The greyhound can no longer be entered in stakes races and, if it receives a second ticket, must leave Derby Lane.
Flyin Carnoustie was the track's leading winner for the meet that ended June 30. He won 25 of 40 starts to finish two victories ahead of Hi Noon Renegade of Nova kennel. His career-best time of 30.32 seconds at 550 yards was the eighth fastest.
Flyin Carnoustie is on pace to challenge for the North American yearly win title, a feat never experienced by breeder Vince Berland of Abilene, Kan. Last season, his Flying Coal City fell one short of tying Where's Big Cash (49 wins) for that crown.
The interfering incident occurred in 2010 during the final qualifier of the $20,000 Gold Trophy Juvenile. Rounding the final turn, Flyin Carnoustie was last among eight dogs when he came in contact with Ww's Cast Off. Flyin Carnoustie wound up eighth, 14 lengths behind, and was denied a spot in the final.
"He was 25 (lengths) back when the judges gave him the call," McAllister said. "(The dogs) were butting heads, but when puppies lose sight of the lure, they go to playing around.
"It did not interfere with the outcome of the race. It did interfere with him being eligible for any future stakes races."
Flyin Carnoustie was 22 months old when ticketed in his 40th lifetime start. Barbara McAllister, Malcolm's wife and the dog's trainer, said: "When dogs are a maiden or juvenile, judges should give them more leniency to see if they're fighting, because they're puppies."
A male out of a litter by 2006 All-America sprinter Dragon Fire and Flying Snap On, Flyin Carnoustie has shown perfect behavior in 88 subsequent starts.
"(The incident) is a shame because he has behaved himself for a quite a long time now," Miller said. "It seems to have been something he did foolishly early in his career."