ST. PETERSBURG — He may add to his credentials for potential All-America status. She could have the closing kick to win the richest prize at Derby Lane.
That is the enviable position that kennel owner John Farmer is in tonight as he starts stakes veteran Highlyclassified and rising greyhound Fraulein Lexus in the $75,000 Holiday Distance Challenge, the St. Petersburg track's final stakes race of 2015.
"We were hoping to have them nice and healthy for this race," Farmer said. "It would be a good shot in the arm to get a chunk of the bonus money."
The winner earns $33,500, Derby Lane's top first-place paycheck.
Highlyclassified, arguably one of the track's top distance runners in the past year, could cement a spot on the 2015 All-America eight-dog team with his first stakes victory and 25th win overall.
The 41-month-old male out of a litter by Kiowa Mon Manny and Cantrell will be making his fourth consecutive start in a stakes final this year, and has clocked Derby Lane's two fastest times at 660 yards since 2007 (36.72 and 36.73 seconds at the previous meet).
"He's got as good a resume as any dog in the country," Farmer said.
Highlyclassified, the Challenge's top qualifier with 52 points (two wins and two seconds), drew the No. 1 box in Race 10 (9:47 p.m.).
Fraulein Lexus will break from post 4. The 54-pound dog showed her dynamic late running style in Wednesday's final qualifier, when she overcame a 10-length deficit to win and finish third in qualifying with 43 points.
The 29-month-old female out of a litter by Djays Octane and Fraulein Becky has blossomed since arriving in July from Wheeling Island in West Virginia, where she won only one of 17 starts. Wednesday's victory was her eighth from 31 outings in St. Petersburg.
"(Wheeling Island) is more of a speed dog track, and she needed a track that was a longer distance," Farmer said. "When I first saw her in sprints here, I told my son (Sean) that I thought little Lexus was going to be one of our best three-eighths dogs."
Owner Monte Jacobs and his assistant, Cindy Adcock, bred and raised both greyhounds at Jacobs' farm in Chaflin, Kan. Jacobs is expected to be at Derby Lane for the race.
The rest of the field in post position order: Lily (Floyd kennel), Mega Rambo (Burk), Flying Gobi (McAllister), Barts Moustakas (Bartley), O Ya Fancy Free (Abernathy) and Gt's Gin N Juice (Abernathy).
Absent is Lk's Mc Clintock, the Lashmet kennel standout who was the only dog to win the first two qualifiers. He was pulled from the event before last weekend's third round.
"He was a late vet scratch because of lameness," Derby Lane racing secretary Les Robison said.
Lk's Mc Clintock was scheduled to run in a schooling race Friday night.
HORSES: Tampa Bay Downs has a 10-race card this afternoon in Oldsmar with first post at 12:28.