07/14/2011 11:27AM

Finger Lakes: Preachintothedevil gets test from stablemate in New York Derby

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Preachintothedevil, winner of the Mike Lee Stakes at Belmont Park, will try to win the second leg of the Big Apple Triple in Saturday's $150,000 New York Derby at Finger Lakes.

If Preachintothedevil is thwarted in his bid to sweep the Big Apple Triple for New York-bred 3-year-olds, which carries a $100,000 bonus, trainer Gary Contessa may have only himself to blame.

Contessa trains Preachintothedevil, the decisive winner of the seven-furlong Mike Lee on June 26 at Belmont Park. The series continues with Saturday’s $150,000 New York Derby at Finger Lakes and concludes with the $100,000 Albany Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 25.

Contessa has inserted what looks like the biggest obstacle to Preachintothedevil’s chances in the 1 1/16-mile New York Derby by entering uncoupled stablemate Socialsaul.

A gelded son of Read the Footnotes, Socialsaul will be attempting two turns for the first time after winning back-to-back races going a one-turn mile at Belmont while facing maidens and first-level allowance company. Socialsaul’s latest win, by 4 1/4 lengths on June 25, was worth a 92 Beyer Speed Figure, one point higher than Preachintothedevil earned for his Mike Lee victory.

“The way I look at is if I didn’t train Socialsaul I’d have to beat him anyway,” Contessa said last week. “I’d like to win the Big Apple Triple, but I got to give [Socialsaul] a chance.”

Contessa trains Preachintothedevil for Crossed Sabres Farm and Socialsaul for Samotowka Stables.

On paper, the only other horse in a field of six who appears capable of threatening Contessa’s pair is Tap Attack, the most heavily raced runner in the New York Derby with 13 starts.

Trained by Scott Schwartz, who won the 2009 New York Derby with Pocket Cowboys, Tap Attack dropped back to last when he was bumped at the start of the Mike Lee, but still managed to finish second to Preachintothedevil as a 12-1 outsider. He may improve stretching back out around two turns, where he is 2 for 5 lifetime. Both of his wins came last winter over Aqueduct’s inner track.

Among the three other runners, Sky Music appears the most intriguing. As a 2-year-old, Sky Music won a restricted stakes going a mile. He began his 3-year-old campaign by hitting the board in two other stakes going long. After changing barns from Todd Pletcher to George Weaver and spending 3 1/2 months on the sidelines, Sky Music has been dull in two starts. He adds blinkers for the first time, an angle that has produced a 3-for-16 record in routes for Weaver.