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Night of Stars produces tight greyhound finish at St. Petersburg's Derby Lane

ST. PETERSBURG — Nova Kennel's Hi Noon Hypnotic defeated Backwood Nan by a nose for her first stakes win in Night of Stars XXII Friday night at Derby Lane.

Trained by Rosa Gibbs for owner Charles Haliburton III, Hi Noon Hypnotic paid $24.60, $11.40 and $10.40. Backwood Nan returned $5.40 and $3.80. Ask The Umpire paid $11 for third. Flying Magellan was fourth, completing a 4-6-1-2 superfecta worth $3,044.60. Winning time for 660 yards was 37.94 seconds.

It was the 17th lifetime victory from 87 starts for the 30-month-old female out of a litter by Flying Penske and Hi Noon Catwoman.

Night of Stars featured 17 races simulcast from tracks across the nation. Part of the proceeds benefits greyhound adoption.

MORE DERBY LANE: The 2008-09 meet concluded Tuesday with defending champion McAllister Kennels and Filipelli & O'Donnell sharing the kennel championship. Both operations had 517 victories, McAllister from 3,177 starts and Filipelli & O'Donnell from a meet-high 3,941.

Neither operation could win in the closing nights. McAllister lost with its final 22 starters and Filipelli & O'Donnell with its last 21. McAllister overcame an eight-win deficit in the final 16 performances for the tie.

Magic City sprinter Reward Trent was the top greyhound with 34 victories from 70 starts. The meet's best times were clocked by La Rosa Enterprises' Red Dirt Road at 550 yards (30.10 seconds) and McAllister's Flying Mancini at 660 (36.96 seconds). McAllister led in stakes wins with four.

In the final stakes June 27, Wayne Ward Kennel capped a fine campaign as Ww's Deathvalley won the St. Petersburg Derby on the eve of kennel manager-trainer John Graham's 50th birthday. It was an unlikely crown for the 32-month-old distance performer. Heading in, Ww's Deathvalley had only one career Grade A victory in 67 starts.

She won twice at that level in the three-race Derby series. It was her first stakes win and 11th victory overall for owner Julia Ward. The kennel also won the Derby in 2005 with All-America dog Its Dust Em.

Ww's Deathvalley was one of three kennelmates in the Derby. Its Quillan finished third and Ww Breezy Aimee seventh. "We're excited," Graham said. "All three will be staying (at Derby Lane)."

Graham said he generally loses top dogs in the summer to casino tracks such as Wheeling Island (W.Va.), which has higher purses. Nine greyhounds are being sent out, "but we've got some quality pups to replace them," Graham said. Wayne Ward finished third in the standings with 482 wins from 3,757 starts. Derby Lane started its 85th season Wednesday.

BREEDERS' CUP: The first Breeders' Cup Challenge races in America are today at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J. Tampa Bay Downs graduate Smooth Air is in the Grade III $250,000 Salvator Mile (Race 9, 4:50 p.m.), followed by the Grade I $750,000 United Nations (Race 10, 5:20 p.m.), a turf test that includes defending champion Presious Passion. The Breeders' Cup World Championships are Nov. 6-7 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

MORE HORSES: A trainer has been fined and banned three months from entering horses after one of Queen Elizabeth II's racehorses failed a doping test. Nicky Henderson learned of his punishment from the British Horseracing Authority. It says a prohibited substance was found after Moonlit Path's debut in February when she finished sixth. Moonlit Path tested positive for a drug that prevents hemorrhaging. … Backtalk beat Flatter Than Me by a length in the $110,500 Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Times wires contributed to this report.

Night of Stars produces tight greyhound finish at St. Petersburg's Derby Lane 07/04/09 [Last modified: Saturday, July 4, 2009 12:04am]

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