07/17/2005 11:00PM

Heat, fast race take little out of Devilment

Benoit & Associates
Devilment takes command at the top of the stretch and easily wins the $100,000 Round Table Stakes by two lengths Saturday at Arlington Park.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - This past weekend was one of the hottest of the summer in Chicago, and on Saturday, in winning the by two lengths, Devilment turned in the fastest 1 1/8-mile time since Arlington Park reopened in 2000. But on Monday, Devilment was not acting like an overstressed horse, a good sign for a colt who has blossomed into one of the better 3-year-olds in the Midwest right now.

"No complaints with how he came out of it," said trainer Mike Stidham. "He's bouncing. He's a happy horse."

And Stidham should be a happy trainer. From only 49 starters, he has 17 wins at this meet, good for third in the trainer standings. In Whimsy and Culinary, Stidham has two of the better 3-year-old fillies at Arlington, and besides Devilment's win, Thunder Mission ran well in the Round Table, setting a fast pace but holding well to finish fourth. Also in the Stidham barn are Party Planner, arguably the sharpest 2-year-old filly seen this season in Chicago, and Charley Tango, a 2-year-old colt who won his career debut here last week and appears talented. Finally, Tisket a Tasket, who runs Saturday in the Modesty Handicap, worked five furlongs in company in a bullet 59.60 seconds Sunday.

"That was a real good work," Stidham said. "It was her normal work where when we want a good work out of her, she will go pretty easy, and she will come home strong with a good gallop-out and be tough to pull up on the backside."

In her only start this season, Tisket a Tasket went last-to-first in an impressive second-level turf allowance win. The Modesty is a big step up, but Tisket a Tasket is talented enough to attempt it.

"I think she's got the potential to be a good horse," said Stidham.

Stidham and owner Pin Oak Farm haven't yet picked out a next spot for Devilment, who was timed in 1:47.71 and earned a career-best 100 Beyer in the Round Table. Stidham said it would be "at least a month" before Devilment ran back, and that the horse would be nominated to all possible stakes races falling into the right time frame.

Miss Terrible will train up to Beverly D.

While Tisket a Tasket has a spot in the Modesty, the Arlington-based female turf horse with the most proven class, Miss Terrible, will be sitting out this race as planned, trainer Brad Ross confirmed Monday. Miss Terrible had a decent dirt work last week, but Ross said he still intends to train Miss Terrible up to a start in the Aug. 13 Beverly D.

As of Monday, the Grade 3 Modesty had as a starting 117-pound highweight Shaconage, who finished third in the race last year. Also expected to run are Noisette, Spring Season, Voz de Colegiala, Cape Town Lass, Humorous Miss, Pretty Jane, and Ide Be a Lady. Considered possible are Make My Heart Sing, Atlantic Frost, and the filly who might be favored if she comes, the Christophe Clement-trained Spotlight. Clement could send Spotlight for the Modesty and Affirmative Action for the Arlington Handicap if both were able to work on turf Tuesday in New York.

The Arlington Handicap is coming up a surprisingly strong race, with the four highest-weighted horses - Cool Conductor, Vangelis, Artiste Royal, and Dayano - expected to start. Also considered probable runners are Cloudy's Knight, B.A. Way, Demeteor, and Diplomatic Agent.

Saturday's third graded stakes, the American Derby, should have a field of seven or eight, headed by Purim, Merger, and Exceptional Ride.

Lord of the Game gets vacation

Lord of the Game returned to Arlington from his second-place finish Saturday in the Claiming Crown Jewel no worse for wear, and will be given a well-earned rest before gearing up to run again, trainer Tom Tomillo said Monday.

In the $150,000 Jewel, Desert Boom jumped out to a clear early lead, with Lord of the Game tracking in second. Lord of the Game made a move at the quarter pole, but never drew even with Desert Boom and was no match for him in the stretch. It was not a bad effort, and Lord of the Game earned $30,000 for his second-place finish, but the horse probably wasn't at his best running back two weeks after a hard-fought win in the $300,000 Cornhusker Handicap.

"It was so hot up there this weekend," Tomillo said. "They all had to run in it, but we were coming back quick. He came back good, and that's the main thing. We will maybe walk for one week and jog for a week to build him back up and everything."

Wednesday feature highly competitive

In the first week of its Summer Festival of Racing, Arlington averaged 7.9 starters per race, a decent if not overwhelming figure. Eleven scratches - not counting one main-track-only horse - on Sunday hurt the week's average, and several trainers mentioned minor illnesses in their barn. But total entries for Wednesday came in at a healthy 84 for a nine-race card, though the featured seventh drew only six horses.

The Wednesday feature, for fillies and mares, is for third-level allowance horses or $50,000 claimers at six furlongs - and it is a toughie. She's a Rebel Too would look pretty good in the race were she not on a losing streak dating back to the spring of 2004. In from Kentucky for trainer Randy Morse, She's a Rebel Too has four seconds and no wins this season, but will be judged by many to be sitting on a breakthrough performance Wednesday.

At longer odds, and with perhaps just as much chance to win, is Miss Outrageous, who finished second to Jaguar City last out in a statebred-restricted stakes, and qualifies for this race only by virtue of the $50,000 claiming tag.