ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, ILLINOIS -- Anyone near the winners' circle for the pair of six-furlong Illinois-bred stakes races at Arlington today saw two hues over and over again: bright pink and bright blue.
In a checkerboard pattern, they're the colours of owner-breeders Steve and Diane Holland's S. D. Brilie Limited Partnership, whose silks jockey Carlos Marquez wore in both the Addison Cammack Memorial Handicap and the Isaac Murphy Handicap. Diane Holland wore a blue cardigan, festooned with a blue and pink scarf, the same shades as her silks. Trainer Michele Boyce wore a blue shirt, just as meticulously matched to the Hollands' silks.
Devileye carried the pink and blue across the wire as he flew home a decisive winner of the Addison Cammack Handicap. Two races later, Puntsville bore the same standard as she led at every call of the Isaac Murphy Handicap.
Not only are Puntsville and Devileye owned, bred, trained, and ridden by the same people, but the winning horses are half-siblings. S. D. Brilie's homebred six-year-old grey mare Puntsville is by Cashel Castle out of the Petionville mare Deville. Devileye, their homebred four-year-old bay gelding, is Deville's foal by Indygo Shiner.
"It was the kind of thing you don't have very often in your life," remarked trainer Michele Boyce after the race. "I'm still reveling in it. It was beautiful. And, the Hollands deserve it. They've been great owners, and I'm glad we've been so lucky together."
Isaac Murphy Handicap: Highweight PUNTSVILLE Dominates in Six-Year-Old Debut
Puntsville has been a force in the sprint division since the fall of 2015, her three-year-old year. She had not seen the starter since a second-place finish in the Powerless Handicap at Hawthorne in November, but the plan had always been to run her this year if she remained sound and interested in racing. As she came into Saturday's Isaac Murphy Handicap, trainer Michele Boyce hoped to see the same mare who had been so strong in the last few years.
She also had another concern, aside from age and the layoff. "I was concerned about the weight," Boyce noted after the race. "Weight can stop freight trains, as everyone knows."
Sending her off the 7/10 choice in the field of eight, the public figured the 124-pound impost would ndull the grey mare's punch even though it was anywhere between four and eight more pounds than her foes carried. Puntsville came sharply out of the gate and quickly cleared to the rail. She soon had company up front, with Game time Decision pressing just to her outside and Delicate Lady prompting the issue three wide. Even with the pace pressure, Puntsville set reasonable fractions for the distance. The quarter went in just 23.05, and by the time she marked the half in 46.18, the grey mare had taken complete control. Game Time Decision and Delicate Lady chased her into the lane, with Go Lady Jay making up ground along the rail, but the grey mare was slipping away.
Puntsville held well clear all the way to the wire, stopping the clock in 1:10.24. Go Lady Jay chased intently all the way down the lane, crossing the wire two and a quarter lengths behind. Delicate Lady held third another half length behind, with Church Road rallying to round out the superfecta. My Darling Sofia, Game Time Decision, Countess St Michel, and Dr Winn Kyi completed the order of finish. Dandy Gal was scratched by trainer Scott Becker.
Puntsville's victory in the Isaac Murphy Handicap was the six-year-old grey mare's eleventh victory in 22 career starts. Those wins include two editions of the Isaac Murphy (2016, 2018), the 2017 Richard Scherer Memorial Stakes at Arlington, the 2015 Pershing Handicap at Hawthorne, and the 2017 Hoist Her Flag Stakes at Canterbury. The $47,461 winner's share of the purse brought Puntsville's lifetime earnings to $378,512.
"Carlos [Marquez] rode a masterful ride," Boyce remarked after the race. "Carlos rode a masterful ride. He was able to get moderate fractions for the first part of it. She's mighty tough to get by if she can set any kind of fractions. She'll even take a horse running beside her all the way. Of course, she did it much more comfortably today."
Puntsville returned $3.40 to win. The $1 exacta over Go Lady Jay (6-2) paid $6.50. A trifecta with Delicate Lady third (6-2-9) came back with $14,90 for each $0.50 base wager, and the dime superfecta that Church Road rounded out (6-2-9-4) paid $7.07.
Addison Cammack Handicap: DEVILEYE Turns Tables on Goneghost
In eight starts before the 2018 Addison Cammack Handicap, Devileye had won six times, with two second-place finishes. Both of those runner-up finishes came in Illinois-bred stakes at Hawthorne last fall, and both came behind the same horse: Goneghost. At that point, Goneghost was four years old, Devileye just three.
Devileye returned for round three against the formidable grey a year older and a year stronger, with an easy allowance victory on May 5 to prepare for today's race. But, Goneghost came into their rematch in good form as well: he won the Milwaukee Avenue Handicap at Hawthorne well within himself, and then finished second behind Matrooh in the Grade 3 Hanshin Cup on May 12. The public figured the speedy grey would get the best of his late-running bay rival once again, and sent him off the 7/10 favourite.
Longshot Spectactular Road rocketed out of the gate, leaving Goneghost to track two lengths off of him. Recount, winner of the Addison Cammack in 2015 and 2016, settled farther back in third. Purely Given and Devileye trailed in tandem.
Into the turn Goneghost ranged up to Spectacular Road's outside, with Recount bearing down three wide. Devileye had begun his own advance past the half-mile pole, taking aim on the leading trio. Though Recount flattened out near the quarter pole, Spectacular Road and Goneghost turned for home on head-and-head terms.
Devileye had their measure. Though Goneghost popped his head in front near the three sixteenths, Devileye soon descended three wide. Goneghost tried in vain to keep pace, but Devileye rolled right on by. He completed the six furlongs in 1:09.23, crossing the wire a length and three quarters clear of his nemesis from last fall. It was another six and three quarters lengths from Goneghost back to pacesetter Spectactular Road, who had faded but still held a length and a half clear of Recount. Purely Given completed the order of finish; D' Rapper was a stakes scratch by trainer Scott Becker, who opted only to run Goneghost.
The victory was Devileye's seventh in nine career races, and his fifth in five outings over the polytrack at Arlington Park. The race was his third in stakes company, following the 2016 Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity at Hawthorne and the 2017 Arlington Heights Stakes at Arlington Park. The $32,385 winner's share of the purse brought the bay gelding's lifetime earnings to $207,261.
“I want to thank Diane and Steve Holland for giving me the opportunity to ride a nice horse and Michele for believing in me,” said jockey Carlos Marquez after the race. “The last time I rode this horse was the first time, and we got along very well. I watched a couple of the races he had last year with Santo [Sanjur] and just did what he did.”
Though Devileye has been at the top of his Illinois-bred class since he was a juvenile, trainer Michele Boyce has noticed him getting better with age. "I can see a definite improvement since he has turned four: his whole attitude, the way he carries himself, as well as physically, he has filled out."
"He's a very remarkable horse: his kind don't come around too often. He's something very special."
Boyce has not finalized a next spot for Devileye, though she plans to keep him at Arlington Park as long as a local race suits him. She also keeps open the possibility of racing him on the grass. "He's never been on the turf, which his sister seems to handle well. We have hopes in that direction." Half-sister Puntsville is stakes-placed on the turf, second in the 2016 Brandywine Stakes at Indiana Grand. Another half-sister, Speed Devil (Brilliant Speed), broke her maiden in a juvenile turf mile at Hawthorne last October.
Devileye paid $7.80 to win. The $1 exacta with Goneghost second returned $7.70. The $0.50 trifecta with Spectacular Road third (6-3-4) came back with $34.55, and a superfecta with Recount fourth (6-3-4-2) paid $9.74 for each dime on the combination.
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