04/10/2008 11:00PM

Kip Deville picks up where he left off

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EXINGTON, Ky. - Three cheers for the best turf miler in the country. Kip, kip, hooray. Kip, kip, hooray. Kip, kip hooray.

In his first start since capturing the Breeders' Cup Mile last fall, Kip Deville picked up right where he left off by streaking to victory in the $300,000 Maker's Mark Mile on Friday before 14,056 at Keeneland.

Kip Deville won this race last year, when it was still a Grade 2. It is now a newly minted Grade 1, and became the third Grade 1 victory on Kip Deville's resume.

This field was nearly the equal of last year's Breeders' Cup Mile, with such North American-based heavyweights as Einstein, Cosmonaut, Shakis, and War Monger. But Kip Deville, carrying co-top weight of 123 pounds, won as much best while taking advantage of a rail-skimming ride from Cornelio Velasquez.

Kip Deville ($6.20), the favorite, was just behind the soft early pace of 24.02 seconds for a quarter-mile, 48.30 seconds for a half-mile, and 1:12.90 for six furlongs, all set by 33-1 shot Thorn Song. As the field came off the final bend and into the stretch, Kip Deville accelerated quickly to take command, then finished resolutely to hold off a belated bid from Einstein.

Kip Deville won by one length in 1:36.78 on a course rated good after overnight rain. Einstein beat Thorn Song by a head for second.

The 5 1/2-month layoff from the Breeders' Cup to the Maker's Mark was "all by design," said Richard Dutrow Jr., who trains Kip Deville.

Dutrow said Kip Deville will be kept fresh all year. He said he did not envision Kip Deville running again until the Woodbine Mile in September, and then onto the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita in October.

Kip Deville, 5, is owned by a partnership headed by Michael Iavarone's IEAH Stables. He has now won 10 times in 22 starts, and is 3 for 3 at Keeneland, where he won the Bryan Station in 2006.

Einstein was shortening up following a Grade 1 victory in the 1 3/8-mile Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in February. His performance Friday thrilled both trainer Helen Pitts and jockey Robby Albarado.

"We knew it was a tall order running a mile at this level," Albarado said.

"This will set him up well for May 3," Pitts said, referring to the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve at 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs.