Updated on 09/17/2011 11:36PM

Spite the Devil beats the odds

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Spite the Devil wins the $250,000 Empire Classic by one length over Organizer at Belmont Park on Saturday.

ELMONT, N.Y. - The old-school training methods of Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens worked again Saturday as Spite the Devil, coming off a 133-day layoff, rallied down the center of the sloppy Belmont main track under Javier Castellano to win the $250,000 by one length over Organizer. It was 1 1/4 lengths back to Carminooch in third.

It was the second straight year that Spite the Devil won the Empire Classic, the highlight of the 12th annual New York Showcase Day card featuring seven stakes for New York-breds worth $1 million in purses. Last year, Spite the Devil outfinished West Virginia to win by a head at 15-1. Saturday, he was went off at 9-1 and returned $20.40.

Spite the Devil was a big price because he was 0 for 3 this year and hadn't been out since running eighth in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap on June 11. He suffered an ankle injury in July while training up to the Evan Shipman Handicap and missed the summer.

It wasn't until Sept. 30 that Spite the Devil made it back to the worktab. But in the six days preceding the Empire Classic, Jerkens worked Spite the Devil three times, including a mile in 1:42.05 on Monday and a half-mile in 48.75 on Friday.

While Jerkens thought he had Spite the Devil fit, he was concerned that the horse wouldn't handle the slop. Spite the Devil was 0 for 4 on a wet track.

"I thought it was almost an impossible job, because he never was much of a mud horse," said Jerkens, who trains the horse for his wife, Elisabeth. "That was the only thing I was worried about. He worked pretty good for Javier the other day - a mile in 1:42. That was a good mile and he galloped out strong. I didn't think he had much of a chance, really."

Spite the Devil took advantage of hot fractions as Yankee Mon ran splits of 22.62 seconds, 45.61, and 1:10.19. Organizer made the lead at the top of the stretch, while Castellano had Spite the Devil rallying five wide at that point. As Organizer shortened stride in deep stretch, Spite the Devil cruised by to get the win. Spite the Devil covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.86.