09/13/2007 11:00PM

Beware of Kip Deville in Mile

EmailPHOENIX - In this game it doesn't take long to go from center stage to the side of a milk carton. Just ask Kip Deville.

Some big winter and spring efforts, including wins in the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita and the Grade 2 Maker's Mark over Showing Up at Keeneland, resulted in Kip Deville landing among North America's top milers. But that was months ago. A couple of hiccups since have made him yesterday's news.

Trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., Kip Deville has a chance to redeem himself on Sunday, in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile. The race comes up strong, making it perhaps the most important prep for the BC Mile to be held in North America this year. It's always an important race, but the presence of Kip Deville, last year's Woodbine Mile winner Becrux, the re-emerging Shakespeare, the classy miler Host, and the top-shelf Canadian runner Sky Conqueror gives this year's Mile plenty of depth.

That means Kip Deville probably will be overlooked in the wagering. And there is every reason to believe the 4-year-old son of Kipling may be ready to resume his best form, which would be enough to make him scary, indeed.

Kip Deville was viewed last year as a speedster who, at the upper levels, could not carry that speed far enough. He opened up a 15-length lead in the Colonial Turf Cup but had no answer to the fast-closing Showing Up, although to his credit he stayed on gamely for second. He was on the pace in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby and Grade 3 Kent, but hit the brakes in each. He again tried the deep end of the pool in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in late November, and, again, he dueled for the lead but was hailing a cab by the eighth pole as Showing Up powered home ahead of him.

Kip Deville ended the year with a victory in the Grade 3 Sir Beaufort at a mile on the turf at Santa Anita. It validated that a mile was his best game and that under the right circumstances he could do some damage, though no one was going to mistake Awesome Gem and Zann, his immediate victims in the Sir Beaufort, with powers such as Showing Up or The Tin Man.

But the victory gave Dutrow the information he needed. He gave Kip Deville a freshening after the Dec. 26 Sir Beaufort and the horse came back to win the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile on March 3. That was no soft field, and nonbelievers got another dose of reality when Kip Deville shipped to Keeneland for the Grade 2 Maker's Mark. He was let go at 9-2, mainly because Showing Up was making his comeback in the race. Kip Deville stalked the pace, surged to the lead, and gamely battled to the wire. His 106 Beyer Speed Figure stamped him as top-class at the trip.

But then Kip Deville tailed off.

He was sent off the 7-5 favorite in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park but came up empty in the lane, finishing sixth. He was beaten only two lengths, so it's not as if he were embarrassed.

But then Dutrow tried him on Hollywood Park's Cushion Track just five days later in the Grade 2 Californian at 1 1/8 miles. It was a disaster. Kip Deville dueled and fell apart.

After that race Dutrow freshened Kip Deville for a couple of months and picked a race at Monmouth for his Aug. 5 return - the Grade 3 Oceanport. Kip Deville stalked the pace, made a strong and threatening run along the rail as the 6-5 favorite, but couldn't sustain his run in the final 70 yards, ending up third. He ran like a horse who needed the race.

Well, he's now had that race, and the 102 Beyer shows it wasn't bad. Also, it was at 1 1/16 miles, and Sunday's race at a mile is the distance he wants. In eight starts at a mile, he has won six.

His morning activity indicates he is feeling good. Since his race at Monmouth, Kip Deville has worked three times, the last two in dazzling fashion: five furlongs in 1:00.20 breezing at Aqueduct Aug. 23, a bullet six furlongs in 1:10.40 at Aqueduct Aug. 31, and six furlongs in 1:11.60 at Aqueduct on Sept. 6.

A race under his belt and the work tab indicate that Kip Deville might be primed to return to his winter-spring form, and he may well go off at 6-1 or higher.