07/22/2006 12:00AM

Delaware: Diabolical dominates

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Diabolical, returning to dirt for the first time since finishing a distant eighth in the Preakness, easily handled his first assignment on an off track by scoring a 4 1/2-length victory in the $58,200 Stanton Stakes at Delaware Park.

The 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds was reduced from 11 to five runners when sloppy conditions forced track officials to take the stakes off the turf.

Ridden by Mario Pino for trainer Steve Klesaris, Diabolical ($3) led throughout after setting comfortable fractions of 24.38 and 48.93 seconds for a half-mile and 1:13.08 for six furlongs. Diabolical, now 4 for 11 lifetime, opened up in the stretch and was ridden out to the wire in 1:44.42.

Kid Lemonade stalked Diabolical from the start and finished second, nine lengths in front of Ice N Lemon.