January 28, 2022

Spite the Devil rallies for Empire Classic

Last updated: 10/23/04 11:00 PM


Spite the Devil rallies for Empire
Classic


Belmont Park’s New York Showcase Fall Festival featured seven
stakes worth a combined $1 million in purses for New York-breds
on Saturday, and the main event, the $250,000 Empire
Classic
,
went to Hardwicke Stable’s SPITE THE DEVIL (Devil His Due), who
withstood West Virginia (Tomorrows Cat) for a thrilling head
decision.


Last of 14 after a half-mile in the nine-furlong event, the
Allen Jerkens-trained four-year-old gelding rallied to the lead
past eventual fourth-place finisher Everydayissaturday (Storm
Cat) in deep stretch before repulsing the late charge of the
runner-up. Sent off at 15-1, Spite the Devil was good for payouts
of $32, $11.40 and $9.10. West Virginia, the 2-1 favorite, took
second by three parts of a length over 47-1 outsider Mr.
Determined (Raja’s Revenge).


Winner of the 2003 Withers S. (G3), Spite the Devil also
captured the Evan Shipman S. in July. He now owns a 30-6-5-6
record with earnings of $599,661.


The $150,000 Mohawk H. went to Blue Sky Farm and Fred Martin’s
IRISH COLONIAL (Colonial Affair), who raced close to the pace
before getting up in deep stretch for a half-length win. Ridden
by John Velazquez, the Randy Schulhofer trainee was favored at
9-5 over 11 rivals in the 1 1/8-mile grassy affair and stopped
the teletimer over the good turf 1:48 4/5.


The five-year-old, who finished an excellent third against
open company in the Bernard Baruch H. (G2) in August, notched his
second career stakes win on Saturday and was worth $5.70, $3.30
and $2.70 to his supporters. Pacesetter Certifiably Crazy (Fit to
Fight) held for the place, a neck better than third-placer No
Parole (Lit de Justice).


Irish Colonial is headed to the Red Smith H. (G2) on November
20, according to Schulhofer.


Ken & Sarah Ramsey’s ON THE BUS (Ghazi) proved best in the
1 1/8-mile turf race for distaffers, the $150,000 Ticonderoga
H.
,
by two lengths. The four-year-old rallied to the lead leaving the
far turn under Pablo Fragoso and quickly drew clear over her
rivals. She finished in 1:50.


On the Bus earned her first stakes win after placing in the
Yaddo H. and Mount Vernon H. in her two previous starts.
Conditioned by Dale Romans, she was favored at 5-2 on Saturday
and posted payoffs of $7.20, $3.80 and $2.70. Sabellina
(Langfuhr) closed ground for runner-up honors, one length ahead
of Little Buttercup (Labeeb [GB]) in third.


Velazquez recorded his third and final stakes victory of the
day when guiding Anstu Stables’ FRIENDLY ISLAND (Crafty Friend)
to a 3 1/4-length score in the $125,000 Hudson H. The
three-year-old colt broke on top and was never seriously
threatened on the front end while covering six furlongs in 1:09
2/5. The Todd Pletcher pulpit earned his first stakes victory and
has now won five of six career starts.


The winner gave back $8.10, $3.50 and $2.80 and was followed
under the wire by 6-5 favorite Clever Electrician (Clever Trick),
who edged Papua (Louis Quatorze) by three parts of a length.


Pletcher said he would look at open stakes races for Friendly
Island.


SUGAR PUNCH (K. O. Punch) proved too good for her rivals in the
seven-furlong, $125,000 Iroquois
H.
, recording a 3 3/4-length
score at 3-5 odds under Edgar Prado. Trained by Richard Dutrow
Jr., the three-year-old lass returned $3.30, $2.50 and $2.30
after finishing in 1:23.


Beautiful America (Dixie Brass) took second and Distinctive
Kitten (Distinctive Pro) rounded out the trifecta.


Winner of the Schenectady H. and Union Avenue S. in her
previous two starts, Sugar Punch now owns a 7-6-1-0 record. She
is co-owned by New York Yankees manager Joe Torre.


“It is so exciting watching outside and in person. I got
goose bumps when she turned into the stretch,” Torre said.
“This is the first race I have had a chance to see her in
person. We’ve been working every time she’s run. Unfortunately, I
should have been working today (in the World Series), too.”


The $100,000 Sleepy Hollow S. has produced dual classic winner
and champion Funny Cide (Distorted Humor) and Florida Derby (G1)
hero Friends Lake the last two years, and another impressive New
York-bred two-year-old was on display Saturday when Robert
Rosenthal and Bernice Waldbaum’s homebred GALLOPING GROCER (A. P
Jet) romped to a 7 1/2-length score. Velazquez guided the
unbeaten gelding, who remained perfect from three starts.


Favored at 1-9, Galloping Grocer made his stakes bow in the
Sleepy Hollow for trainer Dominick Schettino and went right to
the lead when the gates opened. He completed the mile test in
1:37 1/5. Naughty New Yorker (Quiet American) finished a clear
second and Carminooch (Tomorrows Cat) came next under the wire.


There was no show betting in the six-horse field, and
Galloping Grocer, who returned $2.30 and $2.10, generated a
negative place pool of $11,221. Schettino said the November 27
Remsen S. (G2) is likely next for the chestnut.


Eveyn Pollard’s PELHAM BAY (Smart Strike) closely tracked the
early pace in the $100,000 Maid of the Mist S. for juvenile
fillies and advanced three wide to the lead on the far turn. The
Pat Kelly-trained dark bay opened up on her rivals through the
stretch under Shaun Bridgmohan, crossing the finish line 4 1/2
lengths the best.


Off at 9-2, Pelham Bay paid $11, $6.10 and $4 for her first
stakes win and traveled a mile in 1:39 2/5. Karakorum Splendor
(A. P Jet) closed for the place at 8-1, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of
Social Virtue (Elusive Quality).


Kelly said Pelham Bay would be pointed toward the East View S.
at Aqueduct on December 5.