Devil by Design, making her season debut for trainer Bill Mott, overcame early trouble to take control in the final furlong, winning the $100,000 Chicago Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) July 3 at Arlington Park.
Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Devil by Design was in tight quarters early before working her way clear on the turn and into contention in upper stretch. After angling out three wide for the drive, she put a head in front of favored Tidal Pool and Dr. Zic approaching the eighth pole and prevailed by 1 3/4 lengths under strong urging.
Devil by Design, now five-for-seven at the seven-furlong distance, was working impressively at Churchill for her 2011 bow.
Late-running La Rocca, ridden by Seth Martinez, rallied wide for second at 22-1 odds by one length over 17-10 choice Tidal Pool, piloted by Eusebio Razo Jr. Dr. Zic was fourth.
The final time for the seven-furlong test of eight older fillies and mares was a slow 1:25.24 over Polytrack.
Owned by her co-breeder, John Gunther, in partnership with Eurowest Bloodstock Services and Tony Chedraoui, Devil by Design earned her initial graded stakes victory after facing top company last year. She was making her first start since finishing ninth in the Chilukki Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs last November.
Devil by Design, who was co-bred in Kentucky by Fred Sahadi, is a 5-year-old mare by Medaglia d'Oro --Beauty's Due, by Devil His Due.
She has had limited experience on synthetic tracks, a though her only prior start on an all-weather track produced her maiden debut win in 2008.
“This filly had been off a little while but I had a ton of confidence in her,” Nakatani said. “She’s got class and this is her favorite distance. I felt very confident where I was at. I just bided my time and when I asked her, she kicked on.”
Devil by Design was fourth early as Dr. Zic, wearing blinkers, angled in sharply at the start and showed the way, stepping the opening quarter-mile in a lively :22.62 and the half in :45.75.
Dr. Zic led to upper stretch and dueled with Tidal Pool and Devil by Design past the eighth pole, when Devil by Design took control.
La Rocca, held up at the rear of the pack into the lane, loomed into contention approaching mid-stretch and got up for second under a steady drive from Martinez. Tidal Pool, saddled with rail, matched her third-place finish in last month's Vagrancy Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park.
Devil by Design won for the sixth time in her 14-race career and extended her earnings to $259,874.
Devil By Design, third choice in the wagering, carried 119 pounds and paid $10.60, $5.60, and $4. La Rocca returned $13.40 and $7.60. Tidal Pool, the co-top weight with Dr. Zic at 121 pounds, paid $3.