DEVILEYE entered today's Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity undefeated in two starts, but most juveniles would not have won either of those races.
In his debut, he had to shoot through a small opening on the rail. In his allowance victory, he spent much of the stretch run caught between horses, then saw an outside hole close. He ducked back inside just in time to slip through and hit the wire first.
Trainer Michele Boyce knew both of those victories had taken maturity. "That word in the dictionary, his picture’s right next to it. He’s been that way from the first time I saw him this year as a two-year-old. It’s very unusual to see a two-year-old that mature in his brain as well as his body."
The public liked what it had seen out of DEVILEYE, too. He opened at 3/5, and though he drifted up as high as even money, he went off a decisive 7/10 favourite. AWESOME ASHER, a wire-to-wire maiden winner in his November 19 debut, was the clear second choice throughout. He left the starting gate at 2/1.
AWESOME ASHER took the early initiative, rushing to a daylight lead and quickly moving from his outside post to the rail. GENTLEMAN RICHIE tracked off him, with SHAKURR and PRAIRIE CHIEF wide in midpack. ALL STRIKES and DEVILEYE trailed, lagging eight or nine lengths off the early going. AWESOME ASHER set an uncontested pace, but an honest one for the distance: 23.32 for the quarter, 46.42 for the half.
SHAKURR advanced smartly down the backstretch, and challenged AWESOME ASHER in earnest through the far turn. AWESOME ASHER fast relented, handing the lead to SHAKURR.
DEVILEYE had trailed early, but had begun to pick up steam. Advancing up the rail, he had improved to second with dead aim on SHAKURR. But, turning for home, SHAKURR tried to make it difficult for the favourite. He spurted clear, crossing the furlong pole three lengths in front. Undaunted, DEVILEYE kept rallying up the rail. Though he was a bit green, he was fast. As soon as he found his next gear, SHAKURR's advantage evaporated. DEVILEYE took the lead passing the sixteenth pole, and kicked to the wire 2 3/4 lengths clear of SHAKURR. Stretch-running longshot ALL STRIKES crossed the wire another 3 3/4 lengths back. GENTLEMAN RICHIE, PRAIRIE CHIEF, and AWESOME ASHER completed the order of finish.
DEVILEYE, the only horse in the field of six who entered the race with two victories, paid his backers $3.40 to win. The $1 exacta with SHAKURR second (1-4) returned $5.90. A $0.20 trifecta with ALL STRIKES in third (1-4-3) paid $6.96. The superfecta with GENTLEMAN RICHIE fourth (1-4-3-2) came back with $29.66 for each $0.20 base bet.
DEVILEYE is a two-year-old Illinois-bred gelding by Indygo Shiner out of the Petionville mare Deville. He is the second stakes winner out of Deville, who also produced two-time stakes winning sprinter Puntsville. A homebred for owner S. D. Brilie Ltd. Partnership (Steve and Diana Holland), DEVILEYE is trained by Michele Boyce and ridden by Santo Sanjur. The Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity was DEVILEYE's first stakes try, his first stakes win, and his third victory in as many career starts. He had previously won an Illinois-bred maiden special weight at Arlington as well as a state-bred allowance at Hawthorne. The $30,000 winner's share of the purse brought DEVILEYE's career earnings to $57,780.
Jockey Santo Sanjur had already become well-acquainted with DEVILEYE before the Jim Edgar. In the irons for all three of DEVILEYE's races, he had also been riding in the mornings. Though he ended up a little farther off the early pace than anticipated, Sanjur kept a cool head. "I don't worry about the other horse in front, because I know my horse" he said after the race. "When I ask in the last part, he starts to run."
The one question entering the Jim Edgar was the distance, as today was DEVILEYE's first start at two turns. His sister, Puntsville, thrives at sprint distances but handled two turns poorly in a pair of turf mile tries last year. That concerned trainer Michele Boyce a little, but DEVILEYE's sire Indygo Shiner has been a better stamina influence than Puntsville's sire Cashel Castle. "He’s an entirely different horse than her," Boyce explained. "He’s a very well-matured colt, he was from the day he came in. He has a brain, good sense…like an old horse reincarnated. He acts, to me, like a horse that would run all day."
Boyce indicated that DEVILEYE would ship to Florida tomorrow. After a short break, he will begin his three-year-old season, a campaign which Boyce hopes will include another step up the class ladder. Possibilities include open stakes company at Tampa Bay, her base during the winter. "We'll give him some time, and see if we would have enough time to get him ready," said Boyce. "I think he'll hold his own, not just against state-breds. He's going to take on the big boys now."
Filed under: Hawthorne