ST. PETERSBURG — As kennel owner Jim Abernathy began the long walk to the Derby Lane compound, he stopped to tell someone, "Down but not out."
"Deja vu" would have been appropriate, too.
More than two decades ago, Abernathy had a greyhound overcome a first-round fall in a stakes race and win the event. Odd Grayson's victory in the $20,000 Fall Juvenile Stakes on Nov. 2 triggered those memories.
The similarities between Odd Grayson and Sorrento Warrior — the greyhound who won the $100,000 Winter Spring Classic in 1991 at the Woodlands in Kansas City, Kan. — are uncanny. Both males were whelped in November, both were involved in collisions early in stakes races, and both went on to win their stakes finales by 5 lengths.
"Sorrento Warrior (an invader from Dairyland in Kenosha, Wis.) was the first outside dog to ever win a stakes race in Kansas City, and he got knocked down in the first round," Abernathy, 47, said. "When (Odd Grayson) got knocked down, I said to myself, 'Hopefully he can repeat that.' "
Odd Grayson upset heavily favored Flying Sebastian, Red Oak Racing's track wins leader and who had won all four qualifiers by a total of 27 lengths. Odd Grayson's winning time for 550 yards was 30.66 seconds, his second best. Had the 78-pound greyhound not completed the first-round race, he would have been ineligible for the remainder of the Fall Juvenile. He won his next qualifying race to stave off elimination.
Owned by Linda Jones of Abilene, Kan., Odd Grayson is the kennel's top 660-yard performer and is expected to be entered in the $75,000 Holiday Challenge, which begins Nov. 30. "He's a monster and can go both distances," Abernathy said.
The 2-year-old dog out of a litter by Tk Quick Strike and Odd Swanee is trained by Kayruth Abernathy, Jim's wife. "He's a nut," she said. "He likes to jump on you all the time."
Abernathy kennel is undergoing a renaissance. After a fifth-place showing in the January-to-June meet, it ranks third in the current win standings, behind powerhouses Red Oak and Patriot. In 12 meets from 2005-12, Abernathy never finished higher than 10th.
MORE DOGS: Derby Lane will have a Veterans Day 15-race matinee performance Monday. There will be no night racing. … Alabama Racing rolled to a four-win performance Oct. 28, the third time the kennel has done that since arriving in 2011 under owner Patty Byers. Jesse Fraker is the trainer.
HORSES: Training began Thursday at Tampa Bay Downs, which resumes live racing Dec. 4 in Oldsmar.