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Justin Holland shows knack for running Derby Lane kennel

ST. PETERSBURG — When Cal Holland decided to retire several years ago, he needed someone to run his kennel at Derby Lane.

His top candidate wasn't far away.

Justin Holland, Cal's grandson, was given the job. His shining moment came on June 6, when Penrose Lobo won his second stakes of the meet, the $8,000 T.L. Weaver Memorial Challenge — a race named in honor of Derby Lane's founder.

After track vice president Louise Weaver, T.L. Weaver's great-granddaughter, presented the trophy to the winning connections, Cal Holland, 70, had praise for his grandson.

"I've got a good family member running the kennel," Cal said. "He's doing a terrific job, and I never thought I made a bad mistake when I gave him the kennel."

Penrose Lobo's win over 2014 All-America sprinter Husker Magic of Abernathy kennel punctuated an outstanding night for the Hollands. Owned by Joan Desalvo of Penrose, Colo., Penrose Lobo clocked a career-best 30.21 seconds at 550 yards — the fastest time in the 19-year T.L. Weaver Memorial. It was one of five victories on the performance for Cal Holland kennel, marking the third time in the past 17 months that the operation had won that many races on one card. From 2007-2013, the kennel won five races on a performance only three times.

"(Cal Holland) has got a lot of experience, and I've always learned by watching," Justin Holland, 27, said. "Being able to be in this business since I was young, I was in the kennel with my dad (Cal Holland Jr.) when I was growing up. I've watched them, picked things up, and applied that to what I do in the kennel daily."

Penrose Lobo, who won the $10,000 Matinee Idol on Jan. 19, is the first stakes-winning dog for Justin Holland as a kennel manager and trainer. The 32-month-old male out of a litter by Rhythmless and Penrose Ralane has 32 victories from 84 starts. He has reached the finals in five of six stakes overall, finishing second in the $20,000 Fall Juvenile in 2014, seventh in the $8,000 Inaugural this year, and fifth in the $35,000 Daytona 550 National Championship in January at Daytona Beach Kennel Club.

"Lobo has always been quite competitive whenever he's been in the final," Justin Holland said. "Me and Brandy (Glaspey, Holland's girlfriend who works in the kennel) have had him from day one. We didn't know if he was going to be a stakes dog, but we knew how good he was early with the way he started (his career)."

Ja's Twinkletoes finished eighth in the T.L. Weaver Memorial for Abrahamson kennel, which is leaving Derby Lane on June 30. Kennel manager-trainer Cary Glidden said owner Neil Abrahamson is sending many of his dogs to West Virginia tracks at Tri-State Racetrack & Gaming Center in Cross Lanes and Wheeling Island. Glidden plans to leave the industry and return to school. Abrahamson joined Derby Lane in 2014.