04/23/2012 12:38PM

Keeneland: Devoted Wildcat enters Wednesday allowance on a roll


LEXINGTON, Ky. – Bob Hess Jr. is one of numerous nationally known trainers who came to Kentucky for the early spring but will pack up and leave once the Kentucky Derby has been run for the 138th time on May 5. Hess, who also maintains a Southern California string, said the allure of bigger purses at the Belmont Park meet convinced him to forsake Churchill for the post-Derby period (through July 1) and that he will have 16 stalls instead in New York, where slot revenues are starting to kick in.

Before he moves on, Hess has some business to conduct here, among the first of which is running Devoted Wildcat on a three-race win streak in the Wednesday feature at Keeneland, a $58,000 unrestricted allowance for 3-year-olds at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf.

“I’ve got three or four more horses to run Derby week, and then they’ll join the others at Belmont,” said Hess.

Devoted Wildcat has progressed steadily in recent months, winning a maiden-claiming sprint in December and a one-mile starter race in January, both at Gulfstream Park, before winning over the Safetrack synthetic in the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sprint last month. Bred and owned by Don Dizney, the gelding will be making his first start on turf after four tries on dirt and two on synthetics.

“I think he fits this race quality-wise, and I do think he’ll handle the surface just fine,” said Hess. “My one concern is the distance might be a little short for him, but obviously he’s been the kind of horse that really tries, whatever you throw at him. If things set up for him, he could be right there.”

Devoted Wildcat, with Kent Desormeaux to ride, is just one of a handful of viable contenders in the eighth of nine Wednesday races, with the others being Richmond County, Icon Ike, Pure Tactics, and the Wesley Ward-trained entry of Sweet and Lowdown and Everyday Dave. A field of 10 is entered.

One other allowance (race 5), a turf route for fillies and mares, also is on the Wednesday card, which starts at the usual 1:05 p.m. Eastern. There are no carryovers in either the 50-cent pick five (races 5-9) or the $1 super high five (race 9) after both were hit Sunday, with winning tickets worth $913.80 and $12,754, respectively.

Back-to-back turf marathons will close out the 15-day spring meet, with the Grade 3 Bewitch set for Thursday and the Grade 2 Elkhorn on Friday.