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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Things came up roses for Derby Lane on Kentucky Derby day.

The West Florida greyhound track enjoyed the best parimutuel handle on its product in more than two years this past Saturday, when fans watched Authentic upset heavy favorite Tiz the Law via simulcast to give trainer Bob Baffert a record-tying sixth Kentucky Derby win at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

A total of $428,605 was wagered on Derby Lane’s 15-race matinee program with a meet-high 2,443 patrons in attendance. The handle represented a 19.51-percent increase from the previous Kentucky Derby day of $358,636 on May 4, 2019.

It was Derby Lane’s best handle since the matinee performance on May 5, 2018, which also featured the Kentucky Derby simulcast. On that afternoon, patrons wagered $480,955 on the Derby Lane product in front of a crowd of 5,109.

Derby Lane’s attendance for its Saturday matinee was 48.2 percent lower than the 2019 Kentucky Derby day total of 4,713, but that was expected with the safety precautions taken because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Track security staff constantly toured the facility to ensure patrons wore masks. In the Derby Club, every other dining table was made available to ensure a six-foot distance. Derby Lane also opened up more parimutuel wagering stations. Some tellers wore festive Kentucky Derby shirts, and fans came attired with their personal Run for the Roses hats.

On the track, Abernathy kennel stood out with four victories as eight of the 14 operations recorded at least one win.

Abernathy kennel began Labor Day in a three-way tie for second place in the competitive Derby Lane win standings with Capabal and Nova, each with 98. Three-time kennel champion Everett Racing forged to the top of the group at 99 following a four-win performance on Saturday evening, capping a 12-win week. Reigning kennel champ Lester Raines is in fifth place with 95.

Don Jensen

I have been a sports writer in the newspaper industry for 40 years: working in Florida, Maryland and Virginia. I moved to Florida in 1984 after serving as the publicity director of Charles Town Race Track, a thoroughbred facility in West Virginia. I reside in Tampa, Fla., and cover the Tampa Bay area parimutuel scene – both greyhounds and thoroughbreds – and write about high school sports for the Tampa Bay Times.