12/07/2010 1:22PM

Devilish Spirit looks like a short price again

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Secrets are often hard to keep at the racetrack. Case in point, Devilish Spirit, who after getting beaten 17 lengths for a restricted claiming price in her debut, returned off an 11-month layoff, stepped up to the New York-bred maiden special ranks and was sent off the 5-2 second choice in a seven-horse field.

Devilish Spirit surpassed even her most ardent supporters’ expectations with a front-running, 15 1/4-length score on Oct. 3 at Belmont Park. After coming back to win a first-level allowance race by 2 1/4 lengths in the slop at Aqueduct at 4-5 on Nov. 5, Devilish Spirit figures to again be a short price despite facing 11 rivals in Thursday’s second-level, statebred allowance feature over Aqueduct’s inner track.

Devilish Spirit, owned and bred by Pont Street Stable, debuted for maiden $35,000 on Nov. 19, 2009, got bumped leaving the starting gate and bumped again entering the far turn before finishing fourth, beaten 17 lengths. Trainer Del Carroll retired shortly thereafter and Devilish Spirit was turned over to Bruce Brown.

In January, Devilish Spirit required surgery to remove an ankle chip, which explained the long layoff. According to Brown, Devilish Spirit returned “a different horse,” he said. “I don’t know if it was the fact of her growing up – she really filled out – but ever since then she’s really improved. She keeps improving.”

After winning her return race on the front end, Devilish Spirit showed the ability to stalk in winning her second start.

“She can be a little headstrong, and that race had some speed in it,” Brown said. “It was good we had the outside post – it was easier to rate her. That was good for her to be able to rate and still win.”

Devilish Spirit, who will break from post 6 under Cornelio Velasquez, is likely to be stalking the speedy Yo Karakorum, who will bgetwo slots inside of her under Jose Espinoza.

This race sees the return of Opus A, who went 2 for 2 against statebred company last year, including a 4 1/2-length victory in the East View Stakes, in which she was wide on both turns. She suffered a hind cannonbone fracture while training in Florida last year and returns here. Trainer Rick Violette, who won four races last week, said this race may be too short in distance for Opus A.

We Need V L T’s, who ran a respectable second in her dirt debut last out, Raffie’s Rose, and Laylaben are other contenders in this heat.