Derby Lane Greyhound Track

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Derby Lane Greyhound Track
Location St. Petersburg, Florida
Coordinates 27°52′00″N 82°37′36″W / 27.8667°N 82.6267°W / 27.8667; -82.6267Coordinates: 27°52′00″N 82°37′36″W / 27.8667°N 82.6267°W / 27.8667; -82.6267
Owned by Weaver family
Date opened January 3, 1925
Race type Greyhound
Official website

Derby Lane Greyhound Track is a racino located in St. Petersburg, Florida, United States. Originally named the St. Petersburg Kennel Club, it is the oldest continuously operating greyhound track in the country.

T.L. Weaver, a lumber entrepreneur, sold the tract of land Derby Lane is sited on to a group of local businessmen, who constructed the track and held its grand inaugural race on January 3, 1925. Shortly thereafter, however, the investors ran into financial hardship and were no longer able to make payments on the land. Possession of the track reverted to Weaver's lumber company, and Weaver decided to keep it and operate it himself. Derby Lane was still owned by the Weaver family as of November 2012.[1]

History[edit]

In 2006 and 2007, Derby Lane was the site of the richest greyhound race in history, the Derby Lane Million, a stakes race in which the winner took home a $500,000 purse (the other $500,000 was divided amongst the remainder of the field). Grey's Calibrator, the only female in the field, won in 2006 [2] [1] and Flying Stanley won in 2007.[3] [2]

Description[edit]

Derby Lane offers races in two distances – 550 yards (5/16 of a mile) and 660 yards (3/8 of a mile). The track is 21 feet wide, features a straightaway of 243 feet and the length of the stretch is 458 feet. The track's surface contains regulated and maintained white sand. [3] (accessed November 2012, select Derby Lane from Submit list).

A fountain and small manmade lake can be found in the middle of the infield. A small island of 5 palm trees on sand is in the middle of the lake, connected by a narrow bridge the short distance back to the mainly grassy infield.

View of infield from grandstand

There is a path which weaves through the middle of the infield, but it is not used very often, most often it is the photoshoot location for winners of major stakes races. Behind the winners circle there is a small warehouse type of building used for toteboard, lure, and gate electronic operations.

The lure is a standard inside rail lure known as an Alldritt lure, named for its inventor, Roy H. Alldritt. It runs on electricity. Originally named the Wonder Lure, it revolutionized oval track greyhound racing in 1937 - it was both reliable and kept the dogs interested in chasing it. [4]

The lure at Derby Lane is called 'Hareson Hare' by the race callers. The announcer positions on the track are held by two people, however only one will work the day's races. Jim Peake has been the main track announcer since 1995 and performs most of the announcing duties. Evening performances are on every day but Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, and doubleheader (afternoon and evening performances) races are held on Wednesday and Saturday. TV monitors display tote information, weights and post positions, races, results, replays, and photos. The winner's circle is only used for major and stakes races, and weights and post positions are announced and filmed on track. The paddock is only used for dressing and weighing the dogs.

The track[edit]

The track consists of three levels. All 3 offer concessions, the top 2 offering dine-in options, and 1 containing a poker room. The paddock is right of the track and can be viewed by a short walk from the finish line. Serviced and self serviced totes are available on every level. The most notable of tote areas being the one on track level, where the words DERBY LANE are spelled out in neon partnered with a greyhounds stride across the sign. The track has a liquor license.

Neon sign above mutuel windows at Derby Lane

The track is the oldest greyhound racing track in the country, and (according to the SP Times and track relations officials) is one of the few still making money in Florida. Due to competition around the area which includes casino boats, casinos, and horse tracks, Derby Lane has lost some qualities gradually such as a gift shop (lost 2009) a bar (lost 2008) and several other cost cutting measures have been taken around the track. Turnout, though declining, was boosted by the closing of the second nearest dog track: Tampa Bay Greyhound Track. Derby Lane's closest competitor greyhound track still operating is the Sarasota Kennel Club.

Alternate gaming options[edit]

The track offers simulcast and pari-mutuel wagering on major dog and horse racing, when the participating tracks/ events live performance schedule is applicable. Derby Lane also is home to the Derby Lane Poker Room, where several standard card games are offered. The track is classified as a racino, but no slots, or Vegas Style games have been approved for the location.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ryan H. Reed, "Born to Run: The Racing Greyhound from Competitor to Companion." (Lexington, KY,: a Thoroughbred Times Book, imprint of BowTie Press, 2010), pg. 36
  2. ^ Jensen, Don. “Greys Calibrator takes run at Derby Lane Cash,” (St. Petersburg Times, February 16, 2006).
  3. ^ Ryan H. Reed, "Born to Run: The Racing Greyhound from Competitor to Companion" (Lexington, KY,: a Thoroughbred Times Book, imprint of BowTie Press, 2010), page 38.

External links[edit]