ST. PETERSBURG — As Randy and Patty Floyd dined with friends at Derby Lane, Arthur Weaver, then the track president, stopped by their table.
"Mr. Weaver thought Randy was a (major-league) ballplayer, and one of Randy's friends was (Reds catcher) Johnny Bench," Patty said. "We said, 'No! No! No!' After that, he bought us a round of drinks. We just got tickled about that."
The occasion, which took place more than three decades ago on the Floyds' first visit to Derby Lane, has stayed with Patty. She mentioned it after M's Free Agent won the $8,000 T.L. Weaver Memorial Challenge on June 4.
"This means a lot to us," said Patty, who owns Floyd & Porter kennel with her husband and Lamar Porter of Plant City.
"Stakes wins are all special because they're so few and far between."
It was the kennel's first win in the 15-year-old T.L. Weaver, named for the Derby Lane founder and Arthur's grandfather. Arthur, who died in 2004, is the father of track president and chairman of the board Vey Weaver.
M's Free Agent became the first member of his litter to win a stakes, edging Hi Noon Renegade by a length. He has 31 wins from 107 starts for trainer Cal Holland.
The 38-month-old male was sired by Extruding Dream, a 2006 All-American and Flashy Sir winner (top distance dog).
He is out of M's Mary Freeman, the nation's third-leading dam this year. The winning time of 30.56 seconds over 550 yards was M's Free Agent's second fastest over his past 41 races and earned $3,200.
"That's like winning seven Grade A races," said Brian Baldwin, who works in the kennel with his wife, Paula.
"The (purse) points have gone down so much over the years, you need to get a piece of the stakes pie to keep going."
M's Free Agent's litter has amassed 138 wins from 576 starts and $91,630 in purse money.
"It's been a nice, nice litter," Patty said. "Free Agent is a happy boy who likes to get out and go."
Floyd & Porter had not won a stakes since 2007, when Brady Thomas captured Night of Stars XX. Brady Thomas was part of the most successful litter ever for the Floyds. Including Hometown Boy, Legends Field and Miss Merle, the litter combined for 259 wins in 899 starts and $263,743 in purses from 2005-09.
Brady Thomas was a two-time second-team All-American and four-time stakes winner. Hometown Boy is the only dog to go unbeaten in winning the $64,000 Sprint Classic and holds Tampa Greyhound's 550-yard record of 30.01.
Early openings: Oldsmar's Tampa Bay Downs (10:30 a.m.), St. Petersburg's Derby Lane (11) and Tampa Greyhound (11:15) open early today for the Belmont Stakes undercard.