ST. PETERSBURG — Flying Stanley seldom was out of the spotlight.
The prized greyhound came to Derby Lane with a guarantee by Vince Berland, his breeder and owner from Abilene, Kan., that he would win the 2007 Derby Lane Million.
Flying Stanley also departed while on his final stage. This week, several days after the National Greyhound Association announced that the eight-time stakes winner had been chosen for the Greyhound Hall of Fame, the association's outgoing executive director, Gary Guccione, was told by Lance Berland, Vince's son, that Flying Stanley had died. He was 11. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Flying Stanley, a male out of a litter from Kiowa Sweet Trey and Flying Rimes, was arguably the sport's finest 550-yard specialist from 2006-08, competing in numerous stakes at five tracks. The dog earned more than $680,000 and was the 2007 Rural Rube award winner as the nation's top sprinter and All-America team captain. He went on to have a stud career.
After his Derby Lane arrival in December 2006, Flying Stanley finished second in his first four starts. Domination followed, with the 84-pound standout winning five St. Petersburg stakes in 13 months, beginning with the All-Star Kennel Preview, the first of 25 stakes titles at Derby Lane for kennel owners Malcolm McAllister and his late wife, Barbara.
The dog's signature win came in the Million. Flying Stanley won by 4½ lengths in 30.39 seconds, one of 57 lifetime victories. The $500,000 first-place prize helped make him the world's highest-earning greyhound.
"Stanley was a bullet to the turn," McAllister said. "He was unbeatable when he was in front."
The Million win came two races after McAllister's Flying Larussa and Flyin Bridgeport finished 1-2 in the Consolation Million.
"There was a lot of pressure for me — with the money involved, and with Vince Berland, his family and his entourage at the track," McAllister said. "When (Flying Stanley) cleared that (first) turn in front, I didn't think he was ever going to get caught."
Berland had the ultimate confidence in his dog that night. Several hours before the Million, he distributed caps engraved with Flying Stanley's name to some of the 8,275 patrons.
"I said, 'Wow,' " McAllister said. "That put on a little pressure."
Berland's hype had started much earlier, when the dog was being transported from Kansas.
"I heard that (Flying Stanley) was going to be a good one, and Vince Berland said he was going to win the Million a few months before (the race)," McAllister said. "That's a lot of ammunition when you say that.
"Stanley was an ox. He was really strong with good power.
Joining Flying Stanley in the 2016 Hall of Fame class Oct. 13 at Abilene will be late owner-trainer Duane Randle and greyhound Pat C Rendezvous.