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Daisy Devine the one to beat in Cardinal

Daisy Devine stamped her quality in the Jenny Wiley last spring (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

Daisy Devine will be a strong favorite to win her third stakes of the year in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs, a nine-furlong grass test which has attracted a field of nine fillies and mares.

A Grade 2 winner on dirt earlier in her career, Daisy Devine was switched to the turf in the fall of 2011 after several disappointing efforts on the main track. The move produced immediate dividends as Daisy Devine set off on a four-stakes win streak, culminating in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland on April 14. The skein was snapped in the Grade 2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile on Derby Day, when the daughter of Kafwain weakened to fifth after setting the pace on rain-softened ground.

Daisy Devine returned to action following a five-month layoff in the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland on October 6, falling a half-length short of Tapitsfly, whom she had beaten by 1 1/2 lengths in the Jenny Wiley. With that tightener under her belt, Daisy Devine should be in a stronger position in the Cardinal.

Bizzy Caroline has dropped four straight, but could rebound returning to her favorite course. The Ken McPeek trainee has won three of four over the Matt Winn turf, including the Grade 3 Mint Julep Handicap and Grade 3 Regret. The daughter of Afleet Alex might need firm ground as she's struggled on good and yielding conditions of late.

La Cloche enters off a career-best win in the Grade 3 Athenia at Belmont Park. The Jimmy Toner pupil has generally struggled in other graded stakes attempts, however, and ran perhaps her most disappointing race of her stakes career in her lone previous start on the Churchill lawn in the 2010 Grade 2 Mrs. Revere.

Grade 3 winner Fugitive Angel, third in last year's Mrs. Revere, hast started just twice this term. Winner of a Delaware Park turf allowance off an 11-month layoff on September 17, she was fifth in a Keeneland allowance on Polytrack last month where she was bottled up most of the way.

Also of note is Grade 3-placed Julie's Love, most recently second to Romacaca in the Indian Maid at Hawthorne.

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