PROFILE: Born in Vermont in 1907, moved to Florida in 1916, and settled in Sarasota in 1926. A pioneering track owner and operator, Jerry Collins has been instrumental in elevating the sport of greyhound racing to its current stature.
HISTORY: It’s been a colorful life thus far for Jerry Collins—one time motorcycle stunt rider, car salesman; later a Florida state legislator, a circus magnate and owner of horse and greyhound tracks. While in the Florida legislature from 1943 through 1949, Mr. Collins battled for greyhound racing, and introduced the bill that would permit pari-mutuel establishments to hold scholarship nights. During that time he also purchased a struggling greyhound track on some overgrown swampland in Sarasota and converted it into a thriving enterprise. He took over Daytona Greyhound track in 1949, and rejuvenated that operation, just as he’s done with the Sarasota track. Other tracks Collins either purchased or had a hand in revitalizing were Sanford-Orlando, Sodrac, the Black Hills, and Colorado springs. In the pre-Castro days he also owned the greyhound track in Havana. He’s since cut back his greyhound operations to his two successful tracks in Florida, at Sarasota and Orlando, but remains a vital contributing force to the sport.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Besides revitalizing numerous tracks, Mr. Collins has helped the image of greyhound racing in many other ways. An advocate of the tight security, he was the driving force behind such innovations as guarded kennel compounds and the tattoo identification system. Along with Murray Kemp and Joe Linsey, he helped organize the American Greyhound Track Operators Association.