Updated on 09/15/2011 1:14PM

Devil Valentine tough, even if price isn't right


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - A sharp Devil Valentine should be tough at a short price in Wednesday's $108,600 Deputy Minister Stakes, a seven-furlong dash for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds.

Devil Valentine looked like a serious Queen's Plate prospect last fall, winning the Kingarvie Stakes and running second in the important Coronation Futurity. But he was a big disappointment after coming off the shelf in May, finishing well back in two stakes.

Trainer David Bell decided to lay up Devil Valentine after the May 19 Marine Stakes, and the gelding was turned over to trainer Fenton Platts shortly after he resurfaced from a summer layoff.

"They found out that he had stomach ulcers after those two poor races in the spring," Platts said. "It was probably hindering his progress. He was working well, but wasn't showing anything in the afternoons. He was treated for it, and spent 30 days at Windfields Farm. He breezed once with David Bell before he came to me and has done well since."

Devil Valentine has run four solid races for Platts. He was caught on the wire after he helped set the fractions in the one-mile Vice Regent Stakes on turf, and also lost a win photo in an optional claimer.

"He came up a little short in the Vice Regent," Platts said. "He had blinkers on, and was a little too gung-ho. His next race was in the slop against older horses. I took the blinkers off, and he rated well behind Divinail's Hope, but got nailed by Certainly Classic on the wire."

Devil Valentine carved out a slow pace en route to a fourth-place finish behind Win City in the McLaughlin Handicap on Sept. 15 and is coming off a front-running romp against older rivals in a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer.

"He ran against a tough bias in the McLaughlin," Platts pointed out. "The inside was terrible. His last race was marred by a spill, but I think he would have won it anyhow."

Platts has no qualms with shortening up Devil Valentine in distance.

"I really feel that he can run seven-eighths," he said. "He has tactical speed, and there should be more speed in there, which should give him the opportunity to lay a little off the pace and show that quick turn of foot that I know he has."

Also in the Deputy Minister lineup are J.D. Foxx, Crease Infraction, Zuckabarr, Nikie Your Honor, Indian Dan, Moonlight Affair, Thank You Sir, Tobias, and Max the Great.

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