Last year, trainer Tom Caviness purchased 17 yearlings for Meeting House Farm and on a whim spent $6,000 on a horse whose half-brother he had trained. Each of the other 16 yearlings drew a greater price, but none has matched the accomplishments of the sentimental selection named Gospel Note.

The 2-year-old gelding yesterday swept past favored King's Snow around the turn, took a sizable lead into the stretch and galloped to a one-length triumph over late-surging Fair Royale in the $45,175 Devil's Bag Stakes at Laurel. Wasso Junior, a 26-to-1 shot, was third, a neck behind Fair Royale (11 to 1).

"I have to reappraise {Gospel Note's} ability," Caviness said. "I thought he was just another good horse."

Many others in the crowd of 9,979 apparently were deceived. Gospel Note went to the post at 17-to-1 odds -- seventh highest in the 10-horse field.

King's Snow suffered his third consecutive defeat as prohibitive favorite. Yesterday, the speedy son of Rollicking finished seventh at 8 to 5.

King's Snow won four of his first five starts and more than $100,000 before his downswing, and jockey Kent Desormeaux has said that the late-developing 2-year-olds simply have caught up with his precocious mount.

"He's been running his guts out ever since his first race," Desormeaux said. "You can't knock him. He's such a tough little horse, but he's just tired from all those tough races. And I don't think he wants to go farther than six furlongs."

Yesterday, however, he was done well before that. Michael Hunter moved Gospel Note outside the front-runner after a half-mile of the seven-furlong race, then widened his lead to nearly five lengths turning for home.

The Devil's Bag provided Caviness a triumphant moment in more ways than one. The gelding has tested the trainer's resolve. To aid his concentration while racing, Gospel Note has worn extended blinkers, regular blinkers, and yesterday was equipped with a shadow roll.

"I haven't tried a tongue tie on him yet," Caviness said. "He's had a bad habit of lugging in around the turn, and he's been stubborn about changing leads. But he's still learning. Basically, he's a big dumb kid who wants to please you."

He did so yesterday in 1:26 1/5.

Santa Anita:

Carotene, a 22-to-1 shot, rallied from last in an international field of 12 fillies and mares to win the $400,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes in Arcadia, Calif. Nashmeel was second, Khariyda third.