Heading into the 1984 Triple Crown season, it was a foregone conclusion that Devil’s Bag would sweep the classics. He was so dominant at 2 that the racing world ran out of superlatives to describe him.
Devil’s Bag was campaigned by James and Alice duPont Mills’ Hickory Tree Farm, who purchased him as a yearling at the Keeneland July sale from the Windfields Farm consignment for $325,000. Undefeated and never tested in five starts as a juvenile, the bay trained by Hall of Famer Woody Stephens broke Seattle Slew’s stakes record in winning the Grade 1 Champagne, and ran seven furlongs at Belmont in 1:21 2/5 in the Grade 2 Cowdin. In his final start of the year he completed the Grade 1 Laurel Futurity’s mile and sixteenth in 1:42 1/5, just three-fifths off Spectacular Bid’s track record.
Devil’s Bag earned the Eclipse Award and was highweighted on the Experimental Free Handicap at 128 pounds, two pounds above the standard. He was named Maryland-bred Horse of the Year over the likes of that year’s Preakness winner Deputed Testamony, Belmont Stakes winner Caveat, Irish Derby winner Shareef Dancer, Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old filly Heartlight No. One and English and Irish champion 2-year-old El Gran Senor. By that December he was syndicated for $1 million per share (a total value of $36 million) and destined to join the powerful Claiborne Farm stallion roster at the end of his 3-year-old campaign. Retirement came much earlier than anticipated.
Devil’s Bag dominated his first start at 3, winning the Flamingo Prep by seven lengths at Hialeah. But the racing world reeled two weeks later when he finished fourth in the Flamingo-G1. Looking to calm the masses, the colt won an allowance at Keeneland in April by 15 lengths, and nine days later got his eighth career win in the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs, a week before the Kentucky Derby. However, the latter was considered a subpar performance, so he skipped the Derby in favor for the Preakness, but never started again when a bone chip was found in his right knee. The colt who won by an average margin of more than six lengths headed off to stud.
Bred by E.P. Taylor and foaled at Windfields Farm, by Windfields’ stallion Halo out of the sterling producer Ballade, Devil’s Bag was a top-class stallion, siring the likes of Devil His Due and 45 other stakes winners, as well as being the broodmare sire of more than 80 stakes winners. He remained at Claiborne until his death in February 2005 at age 24 and is buried on the farm.