04/06/2009 11:00PM

Devil House hopes for less grueling pace

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - It appears Devil House will have to get the jump on Kentucky shipper Distinctive Dixie early then repulse bids from Euphony and Alina late to secure her sixth stakes win Wednesday in the $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

At least that's how things look on paper for the 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares that opens the final week of the meet and continues the Racing Festival of the South stakes program, which concludes Saturday with the Arkansas Derby.

Devil House last raced at Oaklawn, setting a quick pace and holding well for third to Gradeo2 winners Acoma and Bear Now in the Grade 3, $150,000 Azeri on March 8.

"She made a rather brisk pace and seemingly spurted away a little bit at the head of the lane, but then inside the eighth pole the fractions tolled on her," said Lynn Whiting, who trains Devil House for Glencrest Farm. "Hopefully, the pace scenario won't be quite as harsh this time around."

Distinctive Dixie, a front-running winner of a first-level allowance at a mile at Fair Grounds on Feb. 23, could pose the biggest pace challenge. Devil House drew well in post 2, while Distinctive Dixie will break from gate 8. Calvin Borel has the mount on Devil House.

"She's one that seems to be committed to the lead," Whiting said. "She drew the inside post, so she should get to the first turn in good order if she comes away in the manner we would hope. It's kind of her race to win or lose."

Euphony is looking for her fifth stakes win. She is making her first start since October, when she dominated the $75,000 Remington Park Oaks. Her trainer, Donnie Von Hemel, is looking forward to getting her season started Wednesday.

"The optimist in me says, 'Well, she's 3 for 3 at Oaklawn and she can do it,' " he said. "And the pessimist in me says, 'Well, it's her first start against older mares.' "

Euphony won her maiden, an allowance, and the $75,000 Instant Racing last year at Oaklawn before closing out her 3-year-old season with three consecutive stakes wins, including the $75,000 Prairie Meadows Oaks. She was freshened and for her return shows some nice works at Oaklawn.

"We're fit and ready to run," said Von Hemel, who has given the mount to Cliff Berry.

* There is a $39,738 pick six carryover for Wednesday.