Nearly three months ago, trainer Joe Devereux spotted a filly worth pursuing. She was Fat And Foxy, a winner in her only start. So, before her second race, Devereux claimed her for $18,500.

Fat And Foxy since has earned $22,770 for new owner Arthur Benjamin in advancing beyond the claiming ranks, and today is scheduled for her third try at a stakes victory in the $50,000-added Gay Matelda at Laurel.

"I really liked the way she won her first race {an $11,500 maiden-claimer}," Devereux said. "When they stepped her up to {$18,500}, I knew we'd be taking a gamble on her. So before I claimed her, I went down to the paddock for a good look at her, and I liked what I saw."

And he since has had little to dislike. Fat And Foxy won that race, followed it with an allowance triumph, then was second in the Marshua Stakes to Willa On The Move, the overnight favorite among 10 entrants in the Gay Matelda. In the Marshua, however, Fat And Foxy struggled on a sloppy track.

In her latest effort, Fat And Foxy challenged undefeated Sham Say for nearly a mile before surrendering to a third-place finish in the Jameela Stakes Feb. 7.

"I think she's best laying off the pace and making one run," said Devereux. "And there should be enough speed in the {Gay Matelda} to allow her to do that."

Top Pincher, a New York-based filly, was doubtful for the race, said assistant trainer Jeff Lukas.

Ferdinand, Alysheba and Bet Twice are among 82 horses nominated to the $500,000 Pimlico Special. The 1 3/16-mile race, scheduled for May 14, also attracted Judge Angelucci, Cryptoclearance and Lost Code, as well as local standout Little Bold John.

Nominations cost $600 each and require a later payment of $1,200; late nominations cost $15,000 . . .

Roman Trip was the favorite as he went into the starting gate in yesterday's sixth race, but he never got a chance to show his mettle; he appeared to suffer a gashed mouth when he broke through his stall in the gate, and was scratched by a track veterinarian. The 3-year-old gelding, an $8,500 claimer, is owned by Laurel President Frank De Francis . . .

Thirty Eight Go Go, the champion Maryland-bred 2-year-old filly of 1987, is scheduled for a one-mile workout at Laurel this morning at 11:15, 45 minutes before post time.