The wait is over for today's running of the prestigious Laurel Futurity and Devil's Bag is considered a shoo-in.
And yet, Althea, another shoo-in, was beaten in California this week, so the law of averages has not been repealed.
Devil's Bag has not been behind in any of his four races. A convincing win for the son of Halo in the 1 1/16th-mile futurity and in the Remsen and Young America would probably make him horse of the year. That honor has gone to only one other 2-year-old: Secretariat, in 1972.
Trainer Woody Stephens followed the classic New York pattern with Devil's Bag, bringing him out for his maiden win at Saratoga, running him back in a "nonwinners-of-two" allowance race, then taking on the heavyweights in the Cowdin, a race in which he showed incredible speed, posting 1:21 2/5 for the seven furlongs, the fastest ever for a 2-year-old in New York.
Stephens brought the bay back in the Champagne Stakes and he ran the mile in 1:34 1/5. No horse in today's race can come within 10 lengths of that effort. Aside from Devil's Bag's winning time, the only question is who will finish second.
Hail Bold King is a solid runner who has been ambitiously spotted by trainer William E. Burch in past races. He probably will be second choice.
My choice for second, however, is Act One, a slowly developed colt trained by Tom Voss. Act One has won a mile race on the turf and closed in a seven-furlong event won by Ballet Partner last week. That race, plus the fact that he will be ridden by the patient and talented Vince Bracciale, makes him the lower part of the exacta.