10/20/2005 12:00AM

Spite the Devil where he belongs


NEW YORK - The Saturday before the Breeders' Cup finds the $300,000 Lexus Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland, and the seven-race, $1 million New York Showcase Day at Belmont Park as being the main attractions. Sunday, the biggest races in North America are in Canada at Woodbine: the $2 million Pattison Canadian International and the $1 million E. P. Taylor.

Empire Classic Handicap

At first glance, Spite the Devil's form looks spotty. But he is my pick, because if you look only at Spite the Devil's last four starts going long on dirt against New York-breds, his form is actually very good.

In his last four outings under those conditions, Spite the Devil shows three wins, including victories last year in this race and in the Evan Shipman Handicap, and a second-place finish this year in the Kings Point Handicap. His closing style fits the anticipated pace scenario, and while his lack of a race since June is a concern, that concern is mitigated by the fact that he is trained by one of the greatest ever, Allen Jerkens.

Spite the Devil will have to deal with Yankee Mon and West Virginia, who are both certainly capable of winning. But Yankee Mon's life figures to be made miserable in the early stages by Runningforpresi-dent, and West Virginia has, over the course of his career, lost several races he really had no business losing.

Tanforan Handicap

The entry of Adreamisborn and Shadow Raider form the ideal coupling, with Adreamisborn being a closer, and Shadow Raider a front-runner. Pellegrino would be formidable if he even only partially recaptures his best form, and Secret Charm has no less than five Breeders' Cup pre-entrants in her recent company lines. But both are stretching out a quarter-mile to 1 3/8 miles, Pellegrino just hasn't shown much spark this year, and Secret Charm is a filly facing males.

I'm going for Gallant, who looks to be coming up to a big effort after only two starts this year. He returned from a nine-month absence in late July and ran into Three Valleys, who came back to win the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap and who is a pre-entrant in the Breeders' Cup Mile. Gallant was much more competitive when dropped into a mid-range claimer most recently, coming from way back, only to be headed late. What makes Gallant particularly appealing this time is he is stretching out to the kind of distance at which he is most effective. Last year, he posted 2 wins, 1 second, and 2 thirds in 6 outings at distances from 1 1/4 miles to 1 1/2 miles. One of those victories was at precisely Saturday's distance.

Pattison Canadian International

Electrocutionist is the likely favorite off his win in August in one of England's best races, the Juddmonte International. But he is said to be best on good-to-firm surfaces. With showers predicted in the Toronto area for Saturday and Sunday, the going may be deeper than what Electrocutionist prefers.

Grey Swallow is the play. There is no question that Grey Swallow is good enough, as in May he defeated three prime Breeders' Cup Turf pre-entrants in Bago, Ace, and Azamour in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, and last year he won the Irish Derby. Moreover, Grey Swallow seems poised for a much-improved effort. He made his first start in two months in last month's brutally tough Irish Champion Stakes, and he made a big run before weakening late. He should certainly be tighter for this.


Belmont Park: Empire Classic Handicap
3 and up, New York-breds, 1 1/8 miles

Approximate post: Eastern-5:50 p.m., Central-4:50 p.m., Mountain-3:50 p.m., Pacific-2:50 p.m.; Elmont, N. Y., forecast: Rain likely, 56¦

1Spite the Devil7891846-1
3West Virginia9697867-2
4Yankee Mon891011003-1
6Seaside Salute81808110-1
7Naughty New Yorker7196966-1
9Mr. Determined60816920-1
10Galloping Grocer8356936-1
12Stevie Stressor76577450-1

Odds by Art Gropper

Golden Gate Fields: Tanforan Handicap
3 and up, 1 3/8 miles, turf

Approximate post: E-7:15 p.m., C-6:15 p.m., M-5:15 p.m., P-4:15 p.m.; Albany, Ca., forecast: Mostly sunny, 74¦

2Shadow Raider9691917-5
5Noble Masterpiece8991966-1
9Secret Charm8496897-2

Coupled: Shadow Raider and Adreamisborn; odds by Kenny Peck


Woodbine: Pattison Canadian International
3 and up, 1 1/2 miles, turf

Approximate post: Eastern-4:35 p.m., Central-3:35 p.m., Mountain-2:35 p.m., Pacific-1:35 p.m.; Etobicoke, Ont., forecast: Showers, 51¦

2Grey Swallown/an/an/a8-1
4Relaxed Gesture1071081058-1
6Last Answer98939630-1
7King's Drama1081091094-1
8Strut the Stage981017320-1
10Meteor Storm10310010015-1

Odds by Jennifer Morrison