10/14/2005 12:00AM

Spite the Devil ready to return

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Spite the Devil pulled a 15-1 upset winning last year's $250,000 Empire Classic by a head over the favorite, West Virginia. He won't be nearly as big a price this year, provided he gets to the starting gate.

Spite the Devil has been away from the races since an eighth-place finish in the Brooklyn Handicap in June. Trainer Allen Jerkens said he had to stop on the gelding in mid-July after Spite the Devil developed an ankle problem. Spite the Devil only recently returned to the work tab, recording two workouts six days apart. That included a solid five-furlong move in 1:00.47 on Oct. 5.

"He's going good now," Jerkens said.

Jerkens had thought about running Spite the Devil in an allowance race here on Sunday, but changed his mind before entries closed. Now, Jerkens will just see how things go during the week before deciding whether to run in the Empire Classic, the centerpiece of next Saturday's New York Showcase Day card, featuring seven stakes for New York-breds totaling $1 million in purses.

"I just figured I better not try to run him so close with the off track and everything," Jerkens said. "If I can get him ready, if he has a good week, we'll see."

If Jerkens can get him ready, it will mark the fourth consecutive year that Spite the Devil runs on New York Showcase Day. In 2002, as a 2-year-old, Spite the Devil was beaten a neck by Funny Cide in the Sleepy Hollow. At 3, Spite the Devil finished fourth behind Well Fancied in the Empire Classic. Overall, Spite the Devil has recorded 4 of his 6 career wins at Belmont.

Spite the Devil, owned and bred by Elisabeth Jerkens, Allen's wife, has run only three times this year. He finished sixth in the Grade 3 Skip Away Handicap at Gulfstream and second in the Kings Point Handicap for New York-breds prior to the Brooklyn.

The prospective field for this year's Empire Classic includes West Virginia and Carminooch from the Todd Pletcher barn; Mr. Determined, third in this race last year; and Naughty New Yorker, Organizer, Runningforpresident,

S. Cherry Legacy, Seaside Salute, and Yankee Mon. Galloping Grocer, who won last year's Sleepy Hollow, is possible for the Empire Classic or the Hudson Handicap at six furlongs.

Lawrence Realization postponed a week

Because of the extreme wet weather conditions that have rendered the turf courses unusable, management decided to postpone Sunday's $75,000 Lawrence Realization and reschedule it for next Sunday.

The Lawrence Realization, for 3-year-olds, is run at 1 1/2 miles on the turf. The race will be open to all 23 nominees and will be drawn next Friday.

More than eight inches of rain has fallen here in the last week and the turf courses are saturated. Racing secretary P.J. Campo said he would "take it one day a time" when deciding whether to take entries for the turf.

Gary Contessa was one of the few people disappointed that the Lawrence Realization was postponed. He had entered Copyco and Poco Bueno for Sunday, hoping to catch an inferior field on the dirt.

"I was trying to take advantage of the situation but it's not going to happen," said Contessa, who was uncertain whether he would enter either horse back next week.

Evening Attire heads Sunday feature

With the Lawrence Realization postponed, Sunday's feature is a $58,000 allowance race for colts and geldings at 1 1/16 miles. Evening Attire and his half-brother Dr. Rockett head the seven-horse field.

Evening Attire, a 7-year-old gelding who won the 2002 Jockey Club Gold Cup, is winless in nine starts since taking the Grade 2 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap 14 months ago. Most of his starts have come in graded-stakes company. In his lone allowance try in the last two years, Evening Attire couldn't overcome a terrible start in a 1 1/8-mile race at Saratoga and finished third.

Evening Attire would benefit if Kennel Up and Cherokee Spook hook up early. Colita, Country Be Gold, and Separato complete the field.

Miss Norman to try Juvenile Fillies

The connections of Miss Norman are willing to forgive their filly her bad performance in the slop in last weekend's Frizette Stakes and, owner Greg Norman said, will attempt to "shock a few people" in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Norman said Miss Norman didn't care for the slop in the Frizette when she was beaten 12 1/4 lengths by Adieu. Prior to that, Miss Norman finished second, 14 lengths behind Folklore in the Grade 1 Matron.

"She didn't like the slop being thrown back in her face," Norman said of the Frizette. "If you watch the replay, you can see her throwing her head about. So, we're going to throw that race out and give her a shot in the Juvenile Fillies. We clearly expect to be 100-1, but we may shock a few people."

- additional reporting by Mary Rampellini