03/01/2007 12:00AM

Diabolical doing what he does best in Richter Scale


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Even as they were running him on turf and in route races, the connections of Diabolical always knew the horse would be at his best in sprints.

Diabolical proved that last fall with a strong victory in the Gallant Bob Stakes at Philadelphia Park and a solid second-place finish behind eventual champion sprinter Thor's Echo in the Grade 1 De Francis Dash. Both races were run at six furlongs. Thus, Diabolical will be kept in one-turn dirt races this year, beginning with Saturday's $225,000 Richter Scale Breeders' Cup at Gulfstream Park. The Grade 2 race, contested at seven furlongs drew a salty field of 10, including the undefeated Half Ours and stakes winners Bright One, Mach Ride, Slam Bammy, and Park Avenue Ball.

"We always thought of him as a sprinter, but certainly there's no money to be made sprinting as a 3-year-old," said Steve Klesaris, trainer of Diabolical, a son of 1999 sprint champion Artax. "He was the type we thought we could stretch out, we just didn't know how far. We experimented stretching him out. We always knew he was durable to stand another couple of seasons after his 3-year-old year. There's money in older horses sprinting."

Though Diabolical hasn't been out since the De Francis last Nov. 25, he has been working steadily and swiftly, including a five-furlong breeze in 58.20 seconds here on Feb. 24. His versatile running style also gives him an edge in this speed-laden field.

"He's tactically quick enough to be placed wherever his rider pleases," said Klesaris, who has brought in Diabolical's regular rider Mario Pino. "The colt himself has a few different styles."

Half Ours, a son of Unbridled's Song, is undefeated in four starts. He missed most of his 3-year-old season due to injury and kicked off his 4-year-old campaign this year with a front-running allowance win over Noble Causeway. Securing the lead against Bright One may be tough in here, but trainer Todd Pletcher doesn't believe Half Ours is a need-the-lead type. He is drawn in post 7, outside most of the speed.

"He's fast enough where he's going to be prominent early, but he doesn't have to be on the lead," Pletcher said.

Bright One looms the main speed of the race from post 3. He has alternated between brilliant and brutal, winning 4 of 7 starts. He has not run since finishing last in the Clark Handicap, a performance trainer Dale Romans had no excuse for. Bright One has been blazing in his workouts at Palm Meadows, including a four-furlong move in 45.80 on Monday. Like Bright One, Park Avenue Ball and Slam Bammy are making their seasonal debuts. Park Avenue Ball, the 119-pound highweight in this field, has done his best work in route races. Slam Bammy, a track record holder at the Meadowlands, needs a sit-and-stalk trip and may be compromised by the rail.

Dark Cheetah, Ecclesiastic, Mach Ride, and Nar complete the field.