Chavez Motors Home with 'Devil' in Withers

(from track report)
Spite the Devil, at odds of 16-1, motored down the middle of the track and caught Alysweep at the wire to win the $150,000 Withers Stakes (gr. III) Saturday at Aqueduct.

The key to the victory was the well-timed ride by 19-year-old Luis Chavez. Currently an apprentice jockey, Chavez won without a weight allowance in the added-money event. He loses the bug on May 6.

Winning Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens was complimentary of Chavez and his riding ability.

"This is a good young rider," he said. "We're going to hear a lot about him in the future. He got after it today and came on. He finished hard today."

Spite the Devil, a 3-year-old dark bay New York-bred gelding by Devil His Due, out of Samantha D (Cryptoclearance), wore blinkers for the first time and improved dramatically over his last-place finish in the Wood Memorial (gr. I) on April 12.

"He worked very well with blinkers the last time he worked," Jerkens said. "I thought he was running well in the Wood Memorial, then he went in between horses and got sucked back out of there."

Spite the Devil is now 3-3-3 from 12 starts with earnings of $244,415.

Don Six, New York Hero and Halo Homewrecker all went to the front along the backstretch of the flat-mile race for 3-year-old colts and geldings and together set the first fraction at :22 3/5. Don Six ended up on the lead and set additional fractions of :45 and 1:09 3/5 over the fast track.

Alysweep, who won the Gotham Stakes (gr. III) on March 16, moved to the front under Richard Migliore in deep stretch, then Chavez got Spite the Devil rolling on the far outside.

"On the far turn I thought I was beat," acknowledged Chavez, "but by around the three-eighths pole I was confident we had a good shot to win."

Chavez won his second New York stakes races. He had previously won the Correction Handicap with A. P. Andie on Feb. 1.

Jerkens suggested that Spite the Devil may run next in the $200,000 Peter Pan (gr. II) at 1 1/8 mile on May 24, although he is still eligible for New York-bred races.

Halo Homewrecker, the 3-2 favorite, finished sixth under John Velazquez.

"He was in a tough spot between horses early through a fast pace," said Halo Homewrecker's trainer Mark Hennig. "I would have liked to seen him settle more."

Added Velazquez, "He was probably going a little too fast early on. I didn't have enough horse to get through in the lane."

Spite the Devil paid $35.80, $12.20 and $6.50. Alysweep returned $6.10 and $4.30. Don Six showed for $5.10. The $2 exacta was worth $155.

(Chart, Equibase)