12/10/2009 12:00AM

Honour Devil gets another shot in U.S.

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Dubai Racing Club
Honour Devil will be shipping back to trainer Michael de Kock in Dubai after Saturday's Queens County.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - There were high hopes for Honour Devil when he joined trainer Kiaran McLaughlin's New York stable in the spring. But as winter closes in and 2009 closes out, Honour Devil's promise has yet to be fulfilled.

The Argentine-bred Honour Devil gets one more chance to make an imprint on North American racing when he runs in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Queens County Handicap at Aqueduct. It will be Honour Devil's final start here as he is expected to re-join his previous trainer, Michael de Kock in Dubai, following the Queens County.

"Mike de Kock did really good with him, we were happy to have him a few months and I think he'll be happy with what he's getting back," said Art Magnuson, McLaughlin's assistant who will be the trainer of record Saturday as McLaughlin serves out a suspension.

For de Kock, Honour Devil won 3 of 6 starts, including the Group 2 UAE Derby in 2008. He had run two decent races in Dubai this year before shipping to New York in early April. According to Magnuson, Honour Devil developed an entrapped epiglottis shortly after arriving in New York. That was taken care of and Honour Devil was scheduled to debut on opening day at Saratoga in an overnight stakes race. But he spiked a temperature two days before the race and had to scratch.

Honour Devil suffered another minor setback when he acted up in a hyperbaric chamber, in which "he got claustrophobic, threw a little fit, and got bumped around a little bit," Magnuson said.

Honour Devil finally made it to the races at Belmont in September where he finished second in the Mr. Right Stakes to Rising Moon. Following that, Honour Devil was third in a one-turn mile race to Biker Boy. In his most recent start, Honour Devil went gate to wire to win a classified allowance race, which featured graded stakes winners Dry Martini and Hunting.

Magnuson said the barn was very pleased with the first race and thought perhaps the horse ran back too soon (17 days) in his second start. In his most recent start, Honour Devil took advantage of being able to set soft fractions in a paceless race.

"It was by design on the day," Magnuson said of the front-running tactics. "Speed was good all day that day. With only those five, we decided definitely to take the initiative."

Magnuson said the plans call for Honour Devil "to leave there running" under Alan Garcia on Saturday and see where that puts him. Magnuson isn't too concerned with Honour Devil's ability to handle the 1 3/16 miles of the Queens County.

"The way he ran the other day, I know it was pretty easy fractions, but he definitely had something left in the tank," Magnuson said.

Buddy's Saint likely to get 2 preps

Buddy's Saint, winner of the Nashua and Remsen Stakes, will leave for south Florida on Tuesday and will most likely make his 3-year-old debut in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 20, trainer Bruce Levine said Thursday.

Levine, who will have about a dozen horses at Gulfstream this winter, had initially considered running Buddy's Saint three times before the Kentucky Derby, beginning with the Holy Bull on Jan. 23. But Levine wants to keep his horse fresh and believes two races - especially with both at 1 1/8 miles - will be enough to have him fit enough for the classics.

"I'm leaning toward two races," said Levine, noting that Street Sense (2007) and Big Brown (2008) won the Derby off two preps as 3-year-olds. "I'm going to study it a little bit more before I make my final decision."

Levine said Buddy's Saint has been galloping routinely on Belmont Park's training track and probably won't work until early January.

"He's happy, he's fresh, I could breeze him," Levine said. "He's getting a little full of himself."

Snit brought back for Saturday

Five of Saturday's races were brought back from Wednesday's canceled card, including the $65,000 Snit Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles. Eight of the 10 fillies and mares that were entered for Wednesday were entered back for Saturday.

When races are brought back, they are re-drawn and benefiting from the re-draw was Saxet Heights, who moves from post 9 to post 2. Saxet Heights a West Virginia-bred filly, has won four of her last six starts including the My Sister Pearl Stakes at Charles Town on Nov. 14. That race, like the Snit, was at 1 1/8 miles.

Love's Blush, who ships in from Maryland for Rodney Jenkins, had the rail when this race was originally drawn but is now in post 5.

With Talike Me and Successful Sarah not entering back, some of the speed was taken out of this field. The Brazilian-bred Bright Halo could become the speed if able to run back to her dirt races in Uruguay where she won 7 of 9 starts on dirt, mostly in front-running fashion.

NYRA takes break after Sunday

Following Sunday's card, Aqueduct will be dark for live racing for 12 days before re-opening on Dec. 26. Aqueduct will be open for simulcasting from Monday through Dec. 23.

Horsemen are reminded that the racing office will take entries on Dec. 22 for both the Dec. 26 and 27 cards.