09/01/2006 11:00PM

Devil House ($4) wires Bassinet

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CINCINNATI - When a horse ships in to win one of the big races at River Downs, he or she typically has come from Churchill Downs.

But not Saturday. Devil House led every step of the $100,000 Bassinet Stakes, proving a popular favorite while furthering her status as the pride of Fairmount Park.

"She showed her authority," said Terry Gestes, who trains Devil House for William Stiritz, the former Ralston-Purina chief executive officer who owns Fairmount Park in Collinsville, Ill. "She showed her class."

Ridden by River's leading rider, Rodney Prescott, Devil House broke sharply to take instant command of the six-furlong Bassinet. Down the backstretch and to the quarter pole, she was tracked closely by Taletobetold, but down the stretch she kept inching away, prevailing by 1 1/4 lengths.

Devil House, a Kentucky-bred by Chester House, paid $4 after finishing in 1:12.20 over a fast track.

Taletobetold, one of four Churchill shippers in the field of 10 and the 7-2 second choice, held second, 2 3/4 lengths ahead of two fillies who dead-heated for third, Beautiful Venue and V.I.P. Princess.

Devil House's task was made considerably easier when the morning-line favorite and a fifth Churchill shipper, Nola Star, was an early scratch. Trainer Ken McPeek said he scratched Nola Star because he was going to run her instead in the $150,000 Arlington-Washington Lassie next Sunday.

Gestes said he and Stiritz have been besieged with requests to sell Devil House since the filly won her second start, a July 23 maiden race at Ellis Park, in impressive fashion. In her only subsequent start, Devil House won the Aug. 13 Bassinet prep at River by 8 1/4 lengths as a 1-10 favorite.

"Mr. Stiritz is not interested in selling," said Gestes, whose training career had been dormant since 2000 until he was asked to train a string for Stiritz earlier this year. Stiritz purchased Devil House for $42,000 last September at the Keeneland yearling sales.

Among the also-rans, none appeared to have much of an excuse, although Rapidian was away a bit sluggishly to lose her best chance.