When T.L. Weaver sold a piece of scrub land to local businessmen in 1925, he had no idea that he'd be getting into the greyhound racing business. When the businessmen couldn't pay their mortgage, he got the land back, but now it had a dog track on it: Derby Lane, the oldest track in the US. The Weaver family is still running it and it's going strong.
With ponds and greenery surrounding it, Derby Lane is where I sometimes have trouble keeping my mind on the races, because I get distracted watching the wildlife. However, the racing is well worth watching, because they have some of - if not the best - dogs in the country.
This is the track where the legendary Keefer won the first 4 stakes races of the 1986 season in front of 12,779 fans.
It's also the track where business was so slow in the early years that Weaver staged all kinds of other sporting events including an exhibition football game with the also-legendary Jim Thorpe. He even tried auto races! It wasn't long though, as greyhound racing gained in popularity, before people like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were coming to watch the dogs run.
Admission is free and kids are admitted with adult supervision. There's a good restaurant, a couple of lounges and a sports bar. Lots of large-screen TVs make it easy to watch the races or replays. Of course, it's air conditioned, but you can sit out on the terrace during the cooler months if you like. I really enjoy sitting there and going over my program or writing postcards to my New England friends who are freezing their patoots off.
Don't miss Vera's News a really nice blog authored by Vera Filipelli, who has been involved with greyhound racing for thirty years in several states including WV, WI and now Florida. Not only does Vera write, but she's also participated in film and video projects, contributed to the National Greyhound Review and co-hosted major events in the greyhound world. Her blog will let you know what's happening at Derby Lane.
Peake's Picks from the longtime "Voice of Derby Lane" can clue you in on some longshot winners also. There's a link on the Derby Lane site. Peake also takes a look at likely horses from Wednesday through Saturday, starting around noon.
Derby Lane truly is a cut above the rest when it comes to Florida Greyhound tracks.