12/03/2010 2:24PM

Preachintothedevil steps up in Damon Runyon

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Though Preachintothedevil had given his connections every indication he was a turf horse, his 7 1/4-length debut win over Aqueduct’s main track a month ago perhaps suggests otherwise. His connections hope to continue to be proven wrong when Preachintothedevil jumps up in class in Sunday’s $65,000 Damon Runyon Stakes for New York-bred juveniles.

The Damon Runyon shares billing on Sunday’s nine-race card at Aqueduct with the $65,000 East View Stakes for statebred juvenile fillies. Both races will be run at a mile and 70 yards over the inner track.

With his high knee action, Preachintothedevil trained like his preferred surface would be turf, according to Marcelo Arenas, assistant trainer to Gary Contessa. Preachintothedevil was entered for a maiden turf race on Nov. 6, but wet weather forced the race to be moved to the dirt. After stalking the early pace, Preachintothedevil made a quick move along the rail turning for home and cruised to a 7 1/4-length win. The runner-up from that race, Megalithic, came back to win a maiden turf race in his next start and is entered back in the Damon Runyon.

“We’re really excited about him,” Arenas said Friday. “We think he’s the best baby in the barn. He gallops like a grass horse, but he had the talent to win by seven on the dirt. This morning, he blew out in 36 seconds like he was just galloping.”

Preachintothedevil will face several more seasoned opponents, including Sky Music, who is 2 for 2 with a stakes win Nov. 18, and Deciphering Dreams, who makes his dirt debut after finishing 11th of 12 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Sky Music, a son of Sky Mesa, came from well off the pace to win the Restrainor Stakes by nearly four lengths but is coming back in less than three weeks.

Deciphering Dreams will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez, who has won the last three runnings of the Damon Runyon.

Five of the top six finishers from the Swirlaway Stakes on Nov. 17 are back in the East View. Miss Valentine won the Swirlaway by a neck over a stubborn Saltamontes, who was pressed on the lead by Queen’s Harbor in that race. Rudy Rodriguez, trainer of Saltamontes, is adding blinkers to his filly’s equipment for the rematch.

“I’m hoping the blinkers get her a little more focused on what she’s doing,” Rodriguez said. “She’s an honest filly, she tries hard all the time.”