ST. PETERSBURG — The comments on the racing chart of Lk's Now R Never read "impressive, red-hot and awesome." And that was just after three career starts at Orange Park near Jacksonville.
"By the time he was 2 months old, we figured out he was going to be something special," Derby Lane kennel owner John Lashmet said. "His big, white stocking feet made him pretty, and he was all over you all the time."
Tonight, on the eve of his second birthday, Lk's Now R Never can live up to that buildup with a victory in the $64,000 Sprint Classic at Derby Lane, the greyhound track's richest 550-yard stakes. He will break from the No. 1 box in Race 10 (10:11 p.m.).
Other starters in post-position order: Art Alex (Patriot kennel), Drew A Winner (Alabama), Call Me Ishmael (D'Arcy), Goodluck Topaz (Alabama), Flyin Pink Floyd (McAllister), Se's Home Owner (Red Oak) and Lily Rose (Floyd & Porter). First place pays $25,000.
Whelped on the farm of John and Jill Lashmet in Fort Lupton, Colo., Lk's Now R Never came to Derby Lane in January when the kennel moved from Orange Park. The 72-pound black male took Jacksonville by storm in 2012, winning his first five starts for a perfect graded-ladder climb. He won 11 of 24 starts and qualified for his first stakes final in the Jacksonville Juvenile, where he finished seventh as the wagering favorite. In that race, he was shut off on both turns.
At Derby Lane, Lk's Now R Never has won three of 14 starts for trainer Tom Artzer. The Fall Sprint is his second stakes final at St. Petersburg. On Jan. 21, he was seventh to Lily Rose in the Matinee Idol after being nudged wide on the first turn. Overall, he has finished in the money 82 percent of the time with top-four finishes.
Lk's Now R Never's sire, Pat C Clement, won 84 races and was a two-time sprint stakes winner at Raynham-Taunton, Mass. His dam, Brett's Raceyone, was a multidistance performer in Colorado.
"I whelped (Lk's Now R Never) and raised him all the way through," John said. "When it was time to go sprint, he'd sprint everyone on the farm. Right off the bat, we knew he was going to be a good dog."
HORSES: Prospective, winner of the 2012 Tampa Bay Derby, faces seven rivals today in the $60,000 Challenger Stakes (Race 8, 4:15 p.m.) at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar. … The Kentucky Derby Championship Series resumes today with the Grade III $400,000 Gotham Stakes (Race 10, 5:02) at Aqueduct in New York. … Dinner in Odem reached $400,000 in career earnings on Feb. 21 for owners Peter and Sharyn Wasiluk at the Downs. The 9-year-old Quaker Ridge gelding snapped a 28-race losing streak with his eighth victory in start No. 87 at the $5,000 claiming level. The biggest win for the Florida-bred came in 2009 in the final $75,000 Chris Thomas Turf Classic at Oldsmar.