Owen Patrick Smith, the “Father of Greyhound Racing” introduced the mechanical lure in 1909. However, it was another innovator who refined the motor driven apparatus to run a more reliable, natural line.
In 1926, H. R. Alldritt, also known as the “Second Edison”, opened the Hurricane Fan Company in Miami, Florida and soon expanded into refrigeration. His expertise of motors and electricity made his word the last word when advising companies what kind of motor would best suit their demands.
In 1933, the inventor beat a path one evening to watch greyhounds race, and was disappointed that a race was cancelled due to a lure malfunction. It was from his discontent that inspired Alldritt to design Wonder Lure in 1936 that eventually spawned Alldritt Electric Motor Company founded in 1942. Wonder Lure offered an extended arm almost to the middle of the track while keeping the lure at greyhound eye level. When installed at Biscayne, it ran for 12 years without a hitch. When H. R. Alldritt retired, his grandson John Phillips succeeded him and renamed the company Greyhound Equipment Company.
James Phillips was born January 23, 1963 in Lawrence, Massachusetts to hardscrabble mother Ruth Pratt, who at 91 years old, is still is as tough as a tire iron. James never knew his father, but has two older sisters, older half brother George, and younger half brother Steven. Ms. Pratt’s career ran the gamut from “working girl” to meat packer to police officer. In 1973 while employed as a secretary at Hinsdale Raceway, she met John Phillips who was installing rails during the track’s conversion from horses to greyhounds. They married and moved to Pensacola where John adopted George, James, and Steven. Though he lacked Alldritt’s ingenuity, John Phillips was a man who knew how to turn a buck. He began to mass produce parts on an assembly line and engaged his new sons as part of the labor force. James began at age 9.
James Phillips never considered other career paths after graduating in 1981 from Woodham High School. After John called it quits in 2001, sons George, James, and Steve purchased the company. George built tracks and installed rails for the lures while James served as shop foreman. Steve was president and office manager. James’ late wife Sharon, who left us way too soon, made lure rabbits and bones called socks stuffed with foam. George eventually left the business to successfully pursue a career in music as an opera singer and classical guitar player. Steve left the company abruptly in 2001 and now owns Psychotic Tattoo in Milton, Florida.
James became sole proprietor of Greyhound Equipment Company and in January 2012 formed Redhound Racing Repairs. It employs three workers who have served the parent company for over 25 years. The company name was chosen to honor James’ pitbull, Red, adopted as a stray and is now James’ go-to-guy. Redhound most recently rebuilt the entire rail system, minus the concrete, for Southland Greyhound Park in 2017. Potential clients as far away as Dubai and Ireland have expressed interest in Redhound services. When amendments 3 and 13 are optimistically defeated in Florida, he predicts a business surge. Tracks such as Daytona and Wheeling also utilize Redhound rail systems.
Video by National Greyhound Association provided by Redhound Racing Repairs.
James Phillips, who describes himself as a “laid back redneck”, is also a throw back to H. R. Alldritt who could build anything. Devoted to greyhound well-being, he invented an on-track safety device that, at a push of a button, retracts the lure into the rail system preventing injuries of the athletes. He also designed a copper insulation to protect canine athletes from electricity.
James may be quiet and laid back, but don’t think he’s never vocal or opinionated. He thinks animal welfare for retired racers has leapt light years forward through track and adoption group programs. However, he questions why Palm Beach is the only track to install his safety devices to insure safer races. He believes that formation of a racing commission should have happened decades ago to oversee both racing and retired greyhounds and views this as a priority. He isn’t alone in this assessment.
James has already ordered eighty pounds of shrimp to be served at his annual Fall Nationals (October 8 – 13) bash. In his spare time, he enjoys the beach and hiking hoping someday to conquer the Pacific Crest Trail. Recently, James has started to shoot pool and sooner or later hopes to beat his girlfriend. Greyhound Channel anticipates Florida voters will sink measures 3 and 13 on November 6th as James buries the eight ball in the corner pocket.