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Daisy Devine star of stakes-filled Fair
|Daisy Devine seeks to extend her perfect Fair Grounds turf record to three in the Blushing K. D.
(Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography)
The four-year-old filly Daisy Devine has proven hard to beat at Fair Grounds,
compiling a five-for-six mark at the New Orleans course including two scores in
a pair of grass stakes at last year's meet. Having gone on to bigger and better
things since last racing in the Big Easy, Daisy Devine will be a prohibitive
favorite to add another Fair Grounds stakes win to her ledger in Saturday's
Blushing K. D. Handicap.
The Blushing K. D., for fillies and mares at about 1 1/16 miles on the turf,
is one of five added-money events on a program dubbed Santa Super Saturday.
Daisy Devine, who carries top weight of 124 pounds, landed both the Pago Hop
and Mardi Gras Handicap during the 2011-12 Fair Grounds meet before upsetting
the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland in mid-April. Among the vanquished in the
latter event was Zagora, the favorite to be named champion turf mare following a
season-ending score in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
Sidelined five months following a dull fifth in the Grade 2 Churchill Distaff
Turf Mile, Daisy Devine returned to action in the October 6 Grade 1 First Lady
at Keeneland and finished a strong second, a half-length behind Tapitsfly. In
her most recent outing, in last month's Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap, Daisy Devine
opened up a six-length lead early but had to dig deep in the final
three-sixteenths to hold off a determined Julie's Love by a head.
Hailing from the barn of Andrew McKeever, who has begun the current Fair
Grounds meet with three wins from six starters, Daisy Devine will be piloted for
the Saturday by Brian Hernandez Jr., who last rode the filly to a Fair Grounds
allowance win nearly two years ago.
Artemus Kitten appears to be the main threat to Daisy Devine. The Ken and
Sarah Ramsey homebred has not won in graded company yet, but registered a mild
upset win over the talented Upperline in the March 31 Bayou Handicap over the
Fair Grounds lawn. The Mike Maker pupil's most recent stakes triumph came in the
Ellis Park Turf in July.
Others of note in the field of seven are Forest Uproar, whose last victory
came in the Marie G. Krantz Memorial over this course and distance in January
2011, and the three-year-old Francisca, a fast-closing second in her stakes
debut in the November 24 Pago Hop.
Older males will also take their turn at about 1 1/16 miles on the turf in
Buddy Diliberto Memorial Handicap. In an intriguing field of seven,
favoritism might fall on Grade 3 Dubious Miss, an eight-year-old who has placed
five times at the Grade 3 level at Fair Grounds over the past several years. The
gelding recently returned from an eight-month layoff, finishing second in an
off-the-turf optional claimer at Churchill Downs where he ran for an $80,000
Canadian invaders James Street and Hotep, first and third, respectively, in
the Grade 2 Autumn at Woodbine last out, figure to draw attention despite having
more success on synthetics. James Street failed to place in either of his two
previous starts on turf, while Hotep is just one-for-eight on the surface,
though he did run a close second in the Grade 2 Nijinsky over the Woodbine turf
The D. Wayne Lukas-trained Skyring is the only three-year-old in the field. A
stakes winner on the Preakness Day undercard at Pimlico, the English Channel
colt came close to earning Grade 3 laurels on three occasions this year, most
recently in the River City Handicap at Churchill. Also in the field is stakes
winner Strike Impact, runner-up in the 2011 Diliberto Memorial.
|Chamberlain Bridge (right) led throughout in taking the 2011 Bonapaw
(Lynn Roberts/Hodges Photography)
Another eight-year-old likely to be favored Saturday is Chamberlain Bridge,
who will defend his title in the $75,000
at about 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf. A former Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint hero,
Chamberlain Bridge skipped this year's renewal at Santa Anita, but enters the
Bonapaw off placings in the Grade 3 Woodford and Grade 3 Turf Monster Handicap.
The Bret Calhoun trainee has won five of eight over the Fair Grounds turf and
has never finished worse than third locally.
Another horse for the course, the three-year-old Icon Ike, captured the Black
Gold last March and exits a solid third in the November 23 Woodchopper. Others
of note are Ready for More, who makes his stakes debut in the midst of a
four-race win streak, and the synthetic specialists Hollywood Hit, a former
Canadian champion sprinter, and China.
Tour Guide, a last-out Churchill allowance winner for Calhoun, is the
probable favorite in the $60,000
a six-furlong dash for two-year-olds. The filly counterpart, the $60,000
Memorial, appears more wide open with Kentucky invaders Irish Lute,
Brotherhood Singer and Finding More vying for favoritism along with Delaware
Park stakes winner Coastal Sunrise.
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