Backstretch Buzz

Boyce; Aguirre; and Valdivia


Devileye has a memorable name, and four races into his career, he appears to have a chance to turn into a memorable horse.

Making his first start since winning the Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity last Dec. 10 at Hawthorne, 3-year-old Devileye beat older Illinois-bred allowance rivals in the fourth race on Saturday, Aug. 4 to win his fourth race without a defeat.

Devileye now has two wins in Arlington Polytrack sprint and two wins – one short, one long – in dirt races at Hawthorne. His pedigree suggests he also could race successfully on turf, and trainer Michele Boyce might explore that option at some point in the near future.

“I’d like to get one more race under him, maybe a ‘one-other-than’ allowance, and then look at any remaining 3-year-old stakes in the region,” Boyce said.

Devileye was bred and is owned by the S.D. Brilie Limited Partnership. A gelding, he is by Indygo Shiner and out of the good race-mare Deville, who also produced the Boyce-trained stakes-winning 5-year-old Puntsville.

Devileye went to former trainer Christine Janks’s farm in Florida for a winter break after his Jim Edgar Futurity win, and after coming back into Boyce’s barn at Tampa Bay Downs later this winter, he was found to have incurred a small bone chip, most likely in his final start at 2, which delayed his 2017 debut.

“I would have preferred to have gotten one more work into him before last weekend, but I thought at 6 ½ furlongs he could handle it,” Boyce said.

Boyce also won a race Friday with the popular 6-year-old gelding Nate the Natural, who was dropped in class from allowance races to a $30,000 conditioned claimer, and then coaxed into victory by jockey Carlos Marquez Jr.

“He’s a funny little horse,” Boyce said. “We took the blinkers off, dropped him down, put a new pilot on him, and he got the job done. I don’t think he was happy about it. He likes to look around. He kind of says, ‘You’re going to take me back to the barn no matter what I do.’ I thought Carlos did a great job of tricking him into getting his nose down.”

Nate the Natural is by Langfuhr out of Perfectlywonderful, by Mister Frisky. He was bred by Barr 3, Terry Biondo, and Boyce, and is owned by Barr 3, Biondo, and Cherrywood Racing Stables II.

Boyce also reported that the stakes-winning mare Lovely Loyree, who had to miss a stakes engagement on July 15, was scheduled to return to training this week.

“She’s been beset by some strange things,” said Boyce. “She had a serious tying-up situation. She put on a lot of weight after her last race. She doesn’t like to miss an oat. We’ve put her on a very restrictive diet. If I can’t get it done, she’s going to Weight Watchers.”

Week to Remember for Aguirre

From 29 starters dating to 2011 at Arlington, the Chicago trainer Rey Aguirre had visited the winner’s circle precisely zero times.

Then last week happened.

Aguirre went into the Friday, Aug. 14 card without a winner from 14 starts this year, but he struck in the first race of the day with Devout Type, who paid $11.80. The afternoon went along, Aguirre idle, but he was back in action in the nightcap with 37/1 Fabulous Union, who was coming hard at the wire but finished third, beaten a head and a nose.

That narrow defeat might have come with a slightly bitter flavor, but Aguirre wasted little time getting the taste out of his mouth. He had a horse in the second race Saturday, Out of the Woods, and by now the betting public had figured this thing out. Out of the Wood went off at odds of 2/1 and paid $6.80 coming home a neck to the good under Mitchell Murrill.

Most mornings one can find Aguirre biking to and from the track on the Arlington backstretch. Rub him for good luck if you see him this week.

Valdivia Still Rolling

There were seven races on the Sunday, Aug. 6 card. Jose Valdivia rode in all of them, won 5. One might call it a fairly amazing feat if one had not become accustomed to Valdivia winning all the time this summer.

Through Aug. 6, Valdivia had won 90 races, just 10 fewer than he won all of the 2016 meeting when he was easily leading rider. Chris Emigh has the second-most wins among jockeys this summer at Arlington, and his total stands at 38, which is respectable, but 52 less than Valdivia.

“It’s a whirlwind. Things have really been going great,” Valdivia said Monday.

Valdivia is represented by the agent Steve Leving, and while Valdivia, barring the unfortunate, will soon steamroll past the 100-win mark, Leving already is there, having booked mounts for the Australian rider Blake Shinn, who won 11 races during his stint at Arlington this summer.