06/23/2005 11:00PM

Devilment showing upside in routes

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CHICAGO - Devilment's form leaped forward when he stretched out from six furlongs to a one-turn mile last summer at Arlington, and his best race yet came May 22, when he won an allowance race by five lengths in his first try at two turns. Now that he has found his niche as a route runner, it's time to see where Devilment's ceiling lies.

Step one comes Sunday, when Devilment goes in the Native Dancer, a $40,000 overnight stakes at 1 1/8 miles on dirt. A good performance Sunday, and Devilment will earn a berth here in the July 16 Round Table Stakes.

"That'd be the plan if he does well," said trainer Mike Stidham.

There are nine in the Native Dancer, including a coupled entry from Prairie Meadows-based trainer Nick Canani. Devilment might be favored off his striking recent win, but Jazzy Gallop, a stakes-dropper for trainer Steve Asmussen, also will take betting action.

was out of action seven months after winning a one-mile maiden race last September. He then made two starts at seven furlongs at the Keeneland meet in April, finishing a distant third in both. Blinkers went on and Devilment went long in his next start, when he whipped entry-level allowance horses by five lengths, getting 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.

"He's training fabulously since his last start," Stidham said. "We always thought he'd be better at two turns. The blinkers just gave him a little focus, that's all. We were a little concerned it'd put too much speed into him, but it actually had the opposite effect and made him more relaxed."

In his last start, Devilment sat in the garden spot, pounced at the top of the stretch, and was gone. A similar trip is in order Sunday. in the second flight. Three Hour Nap won the Arlington-Washington Futurity here last fall, but has only a moderate third-place finish from three starts so far this season.

exits a pair of Lone Star grass stakes, most recently finishing seventh in the $200,000 USA Stakes on May 30. Jazzy Gallop probably is better on dirt and, as a stretch-running closer with a stamina-oriented pedigree, could improve in his first try at 1 1/8 miles.