Updated on 09/17/2011 11:35AM

Devious Boy gets his head in front

Devious Boy ($4.20) holds off Sweet Return to win the $150,000 Oak Tree Derby by a head.

ARCADIA, Calif. - After two thrilling stretch runs in recent weeks, it is safe to say that Devious Boy is only slightly better than Sweet Return.

The pair were separated by a nose while second and third in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 6, and by a head in Saturday's $150,000 at Santa Anita when Devious Boy held off a late rally from Sweet Return.

Devious Boy ($4.20) covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.82, finishing the final three furlongs in about 34.30 seconds.

"At the wire, he literally pushed his nose out in front," said Julie Krone, the winning jockey. "He's got so much try in him."

Devious Boy was close to the front throughout, chasing a slow pace of 25.48 and 49.96 seconds set by Domestic Dispute.

Racing off the rail on the backstretch and final turn, Devious Boy challenged Domestic Dispute and took the lead in early stretch. Sweet Return, fourth early, rallied on the final turn and was in contention at the eighth pole, but he could not reach the winner.

Sweet Return's rally impressed jockey Gary Stevens.

"Julie's horse was playing around when I got to him, but he had more," Stevens said. "They were rolling. My horse is improving. He ran big."

Urban King made an eye-catching move in the final furlong but was only third, a neck behind Sweet Return. Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. chose an inside path in deep stretch for Urban King but ran out of ground. Urban King has finished second or third in five stakes since arriving from France last winter.

Domestic Dispute finished fourth, followed by Californian. Blue Blood Boot was scratched on Saturday morning.

Devious Boy is owned by Jim Vreeland. Trained by Kathy Walsh, Devious Boy has not been worse than second in four starts since arriving from England last winter. He won a division of the Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar in his U.S. debut on July 23 and followed with runner-up finishes in the La Jolla Handicap and Del Mar Derby.

Overall, Devious Boy has won 5 of 14 starts and $272,912.