ST. PETERSBURG — The white pigeon kept hanging around Jan Alderson. Finally, it flew across her path.
"There you go," she said. "That's my dad … if you believe in omens."
Alderson had no doubt that Hiley Edwin J. "Eddy" Alderson, her father who died Sept. 2 at age 86, had something to do with Fiesta Bruno winning the $20,000 Gold Trophy Juvenile Stakes on May 9 at Derby Lane. It was her first stakes victory since his passing.
"I'm sure he's looking down very happy, because it's been a long time rebuilding the kennel," Alderson said. "Thanks to the Blairs (brothers Jeff and David of Abilene, Kan.), we're able to do that. And I know my mom (Eleanor Alderson, 91) will be happy when I tell her we won."
Alderson, 59, owner and trainer for the Derby Lane kennel that she took control of after her father's retirement, said Fiesta Bruno's first career stakes win also meant a lot to her son, Greg Lesperance, who works in the kennel.
"Dad was my son's mentor," Alderson said. "They were very close and had a special relationship."
Eddy Alderson, a 2000 Greyhound Hall of Fame inductee, influenced his grandson in numerous ways.
"He was the only other male person that was in our immediate family," Lesperance, 33, said. "He taught everybody a lot — work ethic, to take care of your family. He was a big family guy, a big member of the community, and he had a big part in building the Greyhound Hall of Fame (in Abilene). So his roots are in the ground pretty deep as far as (greyhound racing) goes.
"I'm fourth generation. Our family revolves around this track, and it always has since we had the farm next (to Derby Lane)."
It was the first Gold Trophy Juvenile title for Alderson, who said it stoked memories of her father's Oxford Shoes capturing the Tampa Juvenile Stakes two decades ago at Tampa Greyhound Track. Oxford Shoes went on to take the Tampa Speed Classic and the Distance Classic at Derby Lane, leading to the dog's selection as the 1992 All-America team captain.
"Bruno has turned out to be a really nice sprinter so far," Alderson said. "He's got a little kick, so that's nice."
Fiesta Bruno, at 7-1 odds, showed moxie in hauling in the $9,000 prize that was more than the 22-month-old male had previously earned. When 3-5 favorite Eyes Loaded of D'Arcy kennel appeared ready to overtake his rival on the final turn with an inside move, Fiesta Bruno hugged the rail and never let his challenger by. The other Alderson entry, Mega Montana, finished fourth.
"I think we had a little extra help," Lesperance said. "I don't think anybody around here thinks (Eddy Alderson) didn't have a hand in it somehow."
HORSES: Tampa Bay Downs graduates Danzig Moon and Divining Rod are entered in the Preakness Stakes today (Race 13, 6:20 p.m.) at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.