07/06/2006 11:00PM

Devils Knight aims high in Burnaby


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Trainer Jerome Partington and his wife, Linda Chisom, appear to have found another bargain in Devils Knight.

Partington bought Devils Knight, a Washington-bred gelding by Tough Knight, for $1,600 as a yearling out of the Washington December sale in 2004. So far he's earned more than $34,000, and could significantly add to that figure when he runs in the $75,000 Burnaby Breeders' Cup next Saturday.

A few years ago Partington paid $2,000 for Yaletown, who went on to finish second in the B.C. Derby and earn more than $180,000.

"Around the barn we say that he's no Yaletown," said Partington. "Or at least we don't think he is. But he's a pretty handy horse, though. I don't know if he's good enough to beat stakes horses, but he deserves a shot."

Devils Knight is coming off a second-place finish to Rey Del Camino in a $75,000 optional race June 25, when he was ridden by Richard Hamel. It was Devils Knight's first time going around three turns, and Partington thinks he'll improve when he comes back in the 1 1/16-mile Burnaby.

"That was a very good learning experience for him," he said. "Richard said he raced greenly. He picked his head up and started looking around when he made the lead at the top of the stretch, so we're going to make a little adjustment and cut some holes in his blinkers."

Hamel has been aboard for all three of the gelding's starts this year.

Devils Knight has improved dramatically as a 3-year-old. He started five times at 2, and his lone win came in a $15,000 maiden race last October. In his first start this season, he paid almost $80 when he won a $35,000 claiming sprint May 13. He came back to finish a close second in a $50,000 optional sprint June 3 and was unlucky to lose by a neck in his latest.

"I always liked the way he moved," said Partington. "But as a 2-year-old he just didn't want to play the game. He had a ton of ability, but he just didn't want to fight. For whatever the reason he's matured mentally this year, and he's using his asset, which is his beautiful movement."

Partington said he got Devils Knight for a song because of the way he looked in the sales ring.

"He looked like a shaggy dog," he said. "That's why he went so cheaply for a horse with the type of body he has."

Partington is well aware that the Burnaby is going to be a serious test.

"I don't know if he's up to the good 3-year-olds here," he said, "but at the next level down he's a pretty tough cookie, and there's nothing wrong with that."

Halo Steven heads Burnaby noms

The Burnaby is shaping up to be a very good race. Alberta Derby winner Halo Steven heads the list of nominations, and he'll be making his first start since switching from Terry Jordan's barn to trainer Barb Heads.

Halo Steven hasn't worked since his win in the Alberta Derby on June 17, and Heads wasn't sure if she was going to work him before the race.

"I might breeze him Sunday," she said. "But he's a good horse, and good horses tend to train themselves. Terry didn't work him between races and he got pretty good results with him."

Born to Be Bad is looking good

Trainer Ed Thompson has a knack for picking out cheap yearlings and developing them into good 2-year-olds. He went a little higher than usual to buy Born to Be Bad for $12,000 at the 2005 CTHS mixed sale last year.

"I guess I just got carried away," said Thompson. "But I'm glad I did."

In a pair of 3 1/2-furlong races, Born to Be Bad finished a close third in his debut and came back to win a maiden special weight race in his second start. He's the only winner in the $50,000 Ladnesian Stakes on Sunday, and Thompson likes the way he's coming up to the race.

"He was quick enough to win going 3 1/2, and he finishes strongly when he works five furlongs," said Thompson. "He's a pretty nice horse, and I think he'll run a good race."

Trainer Alan Jack also likes the way Sin Toro is coming up to the Ladnesian. Jack should know a good 2-year-old when he sees one: He trains last year's local 2-year-old champ, Regal Request. Both Regal Request and Sin Toro are owned by their breeder, Roland Embree.

Sin Toro finished fifth in a maiden special weight race going 3 1/2 furlongs in his debut on June 17.

"He seems to have some talent," Jack said of Sin Toro. "He got left in his first start, and you're pretty much done if you don't break going 3 1/2. I think he'll run a lot better going 6 1/2 furlongs."