ST. PETERSBURG — The sands of time will soon catch up with Malcolm and Barbara McAllister, the old-school greyhound couple who took many challengers to school.
Owners of arguably the most successful modern-day kennel at Derby Lane, the McAllisters will retire June 30, ending a career that has spanned more than three decades. They came to Derby Lane in 2005 from Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque, Texas, bringing flair, forthrightness and fine dogs to the 88-year facility.
"The greyhounds always came first," said Malcolm McAllister, 66. "I'm going to miss them. But now, my wife has to come first; my life has to come first."
First has been the common denominator for the McAllisters. They recruited the top dogs from Abilene, Kan., resident Vince Berland and his Flying Eagles Kennel, developing them into champions. The McAllisters' resume at Derby Lane is impeccable: four kennel championships; three individual win leaders; five first-team All-America greyhounds, including three captains; three Rural Rube winners (sport's top sprinter); two Flashy Sir winners (top distance dog); 25 stakes victories by 12 dogs totaling $881,200 in first-place added money; and their 4,000th track victory on May 20.
"I'm burned out," Malcolm McAllister said. "I've had enough — no vacations, always worrying about the dogs."
The McAllisters have sold their St. Petersburg home and will leave the area in September for a 21-day Asian cruise. Boracay, an island in the Philippines, is one of several retirement sites being considered by the McAllisters, both natives of London and married in 1986 in Las Vegas.
Malcolm McAllister began his career in 1980 in Phoenix. He also raced in Arkansas, Colorado and Wisconsin.
"I came to Derby Lane for stakes races," he said.
A bull's-eye was often on the McAllister dogs in those major races. Flying Coal City and Flying Stanley, both All-America captains, won five stakes apiece. Flying Coal City was a Triple Crown winner in 2010, gaining Rural Rube and Flashy Sir honors. Flying Stanley, a Rural Rube winner, capped the McAllisters' most memorable night March 3, 2007, with a victory in the Derby Lane Million. The win was worth $500,000.
On the same card, the McAllisters finished 1-2 in the Consolation Million with Flying Larussa and Flyin Bridgeport, another All-America runner and Flashy Sir winner. Tiger Boy was the McAllisters' final All-America dog, also a team captain and a Rural Rube winner.
"It was a joint effort, and we took care of business with 100 percent input to the dogs," Barbara McAllister said.
Said Hambleton Racing kennel manager-trainer Doug Flint: "Malcolm has got a certain way he likes to have things run. It's like anything else in sports, if you're the best, everybody's looking to beat you. He'll be missed, that's for sure."