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Mega Nerfetta to move on from Derby Lane

 
Published Dec. 20, 2014

ST. PETERSBURG — Going, going, almost gone.

Mega Nerfetta is headed for greener pastures soon. She will be missed by Burk Greyhounds kennel but not forgotten after her stunning box-to-wire victory in the $75,000 Holiday Distance Challenge on Dec. 13 at Derby Lane.

"You dream of moments like that," kennel owner Donald Burk Jr., 55, said.

It was the first stakes victory at Derby Lane for Burk, a 35-year dog man who came from Sanford Orlando Kennel Club in Longwood in 2013. The Boston native said Mega Nerfetta's record-setting win was his best greyhound experience, topping the title of his homebred Tricia's Anchor in the 1996 American Greyhound Derby at defunct Lincoln Park in Rhode Island.

"I leased (Tricia's Anchor) out and didn't get to race her (myself)," Burk said. "(Mega Nerfetta) was the first big stakes winner that we handled in a kennel. She developed and got better each time out."

Burk said Mega Nerfetta will leave for Southland Park in West Memphis, Ark., at the conclusion of the meet on Dec. 31. Southland Park's casino-boosted purses are substantially higher than those at Derby Lane, and Burk said rotating stock is an agreement he has with Mega Nerfetta breeder and owner Jeff Blair of Abilene, Kan.

"If I break some puppies in and they do really good, (Blair) likes to move them to Southland," Burk said. "I'm fine with that, as long as he keeps giving me nice dogs."

Mega Nerfetta, a female from a litter by Derby Lane 550-yard record-holder Trent Lee and Starz Arcadia, beat a field that included stakes winners Odd Grayson and Jacks Lil Bigman. She set a stakes record in the eight-year series with a career-best clocking of 37.24 seconds at 660 yards. The dog was the only female in the race, the youngest (23 months old) and the smallest (63 pounds).

She entered the Challenge without a top-grade victory or a win on the 660 course. Mega Nerfetta was the race's longest shot, and her $38.80 win payout was the largest in stakes finals since Kinloch Brae ($41.80) took the 2008 Sprint Classic. The victory, her 10th from 54 starts overall, was worth $33,500.

Burk Greyhounds is a family-oriented business. Joy Burk, Donald's wife of 30 years, helps in the kennel with sons Garrett, 28, Alek, 25, and daughter-in-law Shannon Burk. Garrett is the trainer.

"The whole evening stood out," Donald Burk said. "The clubhouse, the great meal, the camaraderie between all the kennels that were in (the final), and even the kennels that weren't in it were congratulating me. I'll never forget it."

HORSES: Gary Caple, 60, a Miami native and thoroughbred owner and trainer at Tampa Bay Downs, died Sunday of an undisclosed cause in Oldsmar. Funeral services for Mr. Caple were Thursday in Anthony (near Ocala).

CHRISTMAS: Derby Lane, the Downs and Tampa Greyhound Track will be closed Thursday.