Devil's Bag, the 2-year-old colt bidding for horse-of-the-year honors, will take on four rivals Saturday in the $100,000-added Laurel Futurity over 1 1/16 miles.
Devil's Bag excited trainer Woody Stephens before he ever raced, working six furlongs at Belmont Park in 1:10 4/5. He subsequently ran seven furlongs in 1:21 2/5 in winning the Cowdin at Belmont, then did a mile in 1:34 1/5, becoming only the fourth 2-year-old in history to break 1:35 at Belmont.
Four winners of the futurity--Count Fleet, Citation, Secretariat and Affirmed--have gone on to win the Triple Crown.
This year's futurity is a mismatch. Other than Devil's Bag, the only horse that has shown any class is Hail Bold King, and Devil's Bag beat him in the Champagne by 14 lengths.
Pied A Tierre, winner of a minor stake at Aqueduct, is not in the running. Ballet Partner showed good speed while winning an allowance race at Laurel last week, but he, too, is outclassed. Act Away, a lightly raced colt, closed ground against Ballet Partner at seven furlongs and could hang on for second.
The only scenario for an upset that seems possible is for a downpour that leaves the track a quagmire. Devil's Bag doesn't like the mud; or, more likely, the colt's mediocre workout of 48 2/5 for a half mile at Belmont suggests he may be off his feed.
The track record of 1:41 3/5, set by Spectacular Bid in 1978, is in jeopardy. Devil's Bag's only rival is the clock.