Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Slow-starting greyhound takes her place in front at Derby Lane

ST. PETERSBURG — Kentucky Fire isn't big on first impressions. She didn't stand out on a farm in Colorado. Nor was she particularly special upon her arrival at Derby Lane.

Now look at her.

Kentucky Fire is the top dog in Cal Holland kennel and among the win leaders at Derby Lane. She has won her past three starts. And in her past eight races — all at Grade A — she has six victories and a pair of seconds.

A year ago, success like that seemed unlikely. Kentucky Fire needed 43 starts to win at Grade C and 51 to win at Grade A. But she found the 660-yard course to be her bread and butter.

"I didn't know she could go that far or that she was going to become that type of dog," Holland said. "I put her (at 660) just to see what she could do. She does everything right and she's our house pet in the kennel."

Owned by Don Godby of Eaton, Colo., Kentucky Fire made her first 58 starts at 550 yards. In her first 660 race, she was knocked down. Now she runs longer and better than most. Kentucky Fire ranks second in the meet in wins with 12, two in back of Jw Titleist of Capabal. Her career-best time of 37.18 seconds at 660 is the meet's third fastest.

Kentucky Fire can set the pace or come from behind. Overall, she has 12 wins from 32 starts at 660, and nine in 62 races at 550. Kentucky Fire has been a runnerup twice this year in stakes: the 660-yard St. Petersburg Derby Consolation and 550-yard Gold Trophy Juvenile. In the Derby Consolation, she led by 4 lengths before being caught by Magic Finch.

"(Godby) never thought that much of (Kentucky Fire) on the farm," Holland said. "And even when I got her, she wasn't any great standout."

Kentucky Fire started her career slowly. In her first 26 races, not once did she have a clocking at 550 yards in less than 31 seconds. She lost 24 of them. The 60-pound greyhound is trained by Justin Holland, Cal's grandson. She is a 29-month-old female out of a litter from Dragon Fire and Rk's Tomb Raider. In 2006, Dragon Fire was an All-America first-team selection and win leader at Bluffs Run in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Rk's Tomb Raider was a multi-distance performer at Mardi Gras (formerly Tri-State) in Cross Roads, W.Va.

MORE DOGS: Defending champion McAllister kennel is Derby Lane's top operation again with a 177-161 win lead over Hambleton Racing after Thursday.

HORSES: Tampa Bay Downs trainer Jane Cibelli is attempting to become the first woman in the 65-year history of Monmouth Park to win a conditioning crown. Cibelli held a 31-25 win lead over Edwin Broome entering Friday. The Oceanport, N.J., season ends Nov. 6. … In the national win standings, Oldsmar five-time defending leading trainer Jamie Ness ranks second with 269, five behind Steve Asmussen. Deshawn Parker, who rode at the Downs last year, leads jockeys with 317.

Slow-starting greyhound takes her place in front at Derby Lane 10/21/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 21, 2011 9:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Thursday's Rays-Yankees game

    The Heater

    The 10 strikeouts look flashy, but RHP Chris Archer was not his sharpest Thursday. He allowed three runs on seven hits, including three straight in the two-run second and a Gary Sanchez homer in the third, and lasted only six innings, throwing 102 pitches.

  2. Rays fall to Yankees in 11 on Brett Gardner homer (w/ video)

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — The front office did its part Thursday, making two trades to bolster the roster in a push for the playoffs. But the Rays didn't follow up in a frustrating 6-5 11-inning loss to the Yankees.

    Rays reliever Andrew Kittredge stands on the mound and can only watch as the Yankees’ Brett Gardner starts to circle the bases after his walkoff home run leading off the 11th inning.
  3. Believe it! Rays are buyers, trade for reliever Dan Jennings and 1B/DH Lucas Duda

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — Dan Jennings' ability to render lefty hitters useless with a sinker that gets beaten into the ground and Lucas Duda's power to blast baseballs off and over outfield walls should make the Rays better.

    Lucas Duda
  4. Bucs' direction is decidedly up for first time in several years


    TAMPA — If you want to see a team give the Heisman Trophy stiff-arm to expectations, check out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Tight end O.J. Howard, left, the Bucs’ first-round draft pick this year, was brought in to give QB Jameis Winston another big-play option.
  5. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Friday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.