07/26/2004 12:00AM

Belmont: Spite the Devil holds on


ELMONT, N.Y. ? Spite the Devil gutted out a half-length win in the $108,100 Evan Shipman Handicap, the closing-day stakes at Belmont Park?s spring meet.

Sherpa Guide, who closed with a rush, finished second in the 1 1/16-mile dirt race for New York-breds. Mr. Determined finished third, a neck behind Sherpa Guide, and Rogue Agent finished fourth. Gander, the favorite in the six-horse field, failed to fire and finished fifth, 3 1/2 lengths behind Spite the Devil. Manhattan Express was last.

With Edgar Prado aboard, Spite the Devil made a four-wide move into the stretch and engaged in a battle with Rogue Agent and Mr. Determined, edging away from those two in the final yards. Sherpa Guide, the 2002 Evan Shipman winner, closed strongly with an outside move, but couldn?t catch Spite the Devil.

Spite the Devil completed the distance in 1:41.89 over a fast track and returned $7.80 as the third choice.