ST. PETERSBURG — As he looks ahead to Wednesday night's qualifying in the $8,000 T.L. Weaver Memorial Challenge at Derby Lane, Nova Kennel operator Hans Limmer gazes into the past.
There, he sees Hi Noon Rembrant, who provided the 70-year-old Munich, Germany, native with his finest Derby Lane moment since he came here in 2007. Hi Noon Rembrant won the 70th edition of the $20,000 Gold Trophy Juvenile Stakes on May 23. It was the greyhound's first stakes win, the first for Limmer at the track and the first for Rosa Gibbs, 33, who celebrated her one-year anniversary as Nova's trainer that night.
"The win was awesome," Gibbs said. "(Limmer) is the best boss I've ever had. He's been in the business for over 40 years. He is a gentleman with a good, upbeat, positive attitude and a wealth of knowledge on top of it."
Hi Noon Rembrant is one of 16 entries for the T.L. Weaver. Other confirmed starters include Backwood Nan, Bb Off The Chart, Craigie Londoner, Greta's Searchin, Lamorge Aces Up, Lamorge Streaker and Tmc's Trail Boss. The top four in two 550-yard qualifiers go to the June 6 finale.
When Hi Noon Rembrant drew the No. 8 box for the Gold Trophy Juvenile Stakes, Limmer knew the odds were stacked against the 26-month-old male from a litter by State Of The Art and Flying Domino.
Seated in the Derby Club with Elly, his wife of nearly 47 years, Hans saw Hi Noon Rembrant go off as the longest shot, 18-1. The Limmers related their situation to that of jockey Calvin Borel, who rode Mine That Bird (50-1) to the second-largest Kentucky Derby upset May 2.
"(Hi Noon Rembrant) did exactly what I wanted him to: break decent, go down to the turn and pray for a little luck," Hans said.
Owned by Denver's Charles Haliburton, Hi Noon Rembrant challenged two foes for the lead entering the first turn. Then luck came into play. With Hi Noon Rembrant on the outside, five dogs jammed on the inside and slowed briefly. Hi Noon Rembrant avoided the traffic, zipping to a four-length lead. He was never threatened, beating favorite Backwood Nan by two lengths and paying $36.80. His time for 550 yards was 31.01 seconds.
It was the eighth win in 49 career races for Hi Noon Rembrant, who hadn't competed at Grade A until one start before the Gold Trophy began May 9.
"This is what it's all about," Hans Limmer said. "There are a lot of good dogs, and you don't win it every day. It was a long drought for me."
MORE RACING: Magic City's Reward Trent, the wins leader with 34, has been sent to Southland Race Track in West Memphis, Ark. … Tampa Bay Downs training champion Jamie Ness set a track record Wednesday, saddling his ninth consecutive thoroughbred winner at Thistledown in North Randall, Ohio.