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)

Venus Espinosa makes Patriot No. 1 kennel at Derby Lane

ST. PETERSBURG — For Cal Holland Jr., it was time to look back and move ahead.

With Patriot kennel star sprinter Venus Espinosa having clinched a berth in the $50,000 Fall Sprint Stakes finale at Derby Lane, Holland and wife Joyce had a family meeting days before the Sept. 29 title race.

"We talked about our kennel and what it needs to do," Cal said. "This (Fall Sprint) was big. When I took this job, I was here to win races and to win stakes races. This was another one we needed to do."

Venus Espinosa didn't let Cal down. The greyhound had a dream trip in what has become a dream meet. He was first out of the starting box, never trailed and showed his heart in the final yards, holding off defending champion Craigie I Am Jak and Call Me Ishmael by less than a length. It was Venus Espinosa's first stakes victory and the second for Cal since joining Patriot in December. (He won the St. Petersburg Consolation Derby on June 30 with Art Allen.)

"(Cal's) passion is these dogs, and he wants to make Vinny (Savill, kennel owner) very proud of him," Joyce said. "My husband and I are best friends. He eats, sleeps and dreams of the greyhounds. That's his livelihood, and that's how he looks at it."

Cal, 47, led Patriot to a record-setting 333 wins in his first meet, which ended June 30. Now with Venus Espinosa leading the way, Patriot is again the track's No. 1 kennel with 172 victories through Thursday, 39 in front of Red Oak Racing.

Venus Espinosa, who turns 3 years old Wednesday, is Derby Lane's top dog. He has 15 wins from 23 starts and has clocked the meet's best 550-yard time, 30.40 seconds. Winning the Fall Sprint served as redemption for the 76-pound male out of a litter by Kiowa Mon Manny and Sol Venus.

In the 2011 Fall Sprint Stakes, Venus Espinosa injured an ankle in the semifinals. He was sidelined the following seven months and rehabilitated at the farm of Tom Taplin in Abilene, Kan. Venus Espinosa then showed he was ready for racing again, not retirement.

"When he first came back here (in April), I saw a little bit of spark in him in a schooling race," Cal said. "He looked awesome, and I knew he had the talent. I just didn't know he would blossom into what he is now. He is one of the easiest dogs I've ever worked with, and I have worked with a lot of dogs in my time."

Owned by Kay Smith and Savill, Venus Espinosa has 35 victories from 93 career starts. He won nine consecutive races from June 29 to July 28.

MORE DOGS: Floyd & Porter kennel sprinter M's Free Agent, winner of the 2011 T.L. Weaver Memorial Challenge, has been retired. He finished with 53 victories from 196 starts. … Derby Lane will have a 15-race Columbus Day matinee performance Monday. There will be no evening racing, but the track will remain open for poker and simulcast wagering.

Venus Espinosa makes Patriot No. 1 kennel at Derby Lane 10/05/12 [Last modified: Friday, October 5, 2012 9:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Rays vs. Blue Jays: Looking to make it 2 in a row


    UPDATE, 5:25: Manager Kevin Cash remains confident the Rays can get back on a roll and make up ground lost in the wild-card race. ... RHP Matt Andriese (hip) will make his next rehab start on Wednesday for Triple-A Durham. ... RHP Alex Cobb said he is "good to go" and set to start on Thursday. .. Cash said new OF …

    Chris Archer will be on the mound for the Rays.
  2. Commissioner Manfred to visit Trop Wednesday for Rays-Blue Jays


    Commissioner Rob Manfred is slated to be at the Trop on Wednesday.

    Commissioner Rob Manfred is slated to be at the Trop on Wednesday.
  3. Bucs running back's gamble pays off for his mom


    TAMPA — When Peyton Barber decided to leave Auburn after his sophomore year, with only one season as a starting running back, it was a risky decision, one he hoped would let him help out his family back home in suburban Atlanta.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber (43) takes the field with an American flag before a preseason game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  4. Armwood vs. Tampa Bay Tech teeming with Division I-A talent


    Armwood High School strong safety Caleb Sutherland (18) breaks a tackle to score a pick-six during the Spring Football Jamboree in Seffner, Fla. on Thursday, May 18, 2017.
  5. Bucs bring back long snapper Andrew DePaola to compete


    Just 12 days before the NFL makes its final cuts, the Bucs have added another position battle, signing back long snapper Andrew DePaola to compete with veteran Garrison Sanborn.

    Andrew DePaola is making an impressive recovery from the torn ACL he suffered in last year's season finale against Carolina in January.  [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]