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Daisy Devine keeps on winning at Fair Grounds

Daisy Devine has virtually run out of competition this winter at Fair Grounds (Hodges Photography/Jamie Hernandez)

James M. Miller's Daisy Devine took care of business over five overmatched rivals in Saturday's $72,750 Marie G. Krantz Memorial at Fair Grounds. Leading throughout, the five-year-old mare opened up a three-length in the strength and crossed the wire 1 3/4 lengths ahead of 19-1 chance Ausus. The 1-10 favorite returned $2.20, $2.20 and $2.10.

Daisy Devine set splits of :24 1/5, :50 3/5, 1:15 2/5 and completed about 1 1/16 miles on the turf in 1:46 3/5. The course, which had not been used much this month due to persistent rain and was slow to dry during a spell of more favorable weather this week, was rated good, although winning jockey James Graham said after the race it was still soft in spots.

There was a large gap -- 13 3/4 lengths -- between Ausmus and third-placed finisher Anniversary Girl. Zapper Belle, Artemus Kitten and Totheendoftheearth completed the order of finish.

Daisy Devine, whose 2011 tallies included the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks, Grade 3 Valley View and the Pago Hop, captured the Mardi Gras Handicap, Grade 1 Jenny Wiley and Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap and Blushing K.D. Handicap last season. She was also a narrowly-beaten second in the Grade 1 First Lady. With this third consecutive win, and fourth in as many starts over the Fair Grounds' turf, her record now stands at 17-10-2-1, $991,281.

Trainer Andrew McKeever said the $75,000 Bayou Handicap on February 23 would be considered, but that Daisy Devine's main goal is a title defense of the Jenny Wiley at Keeneland on April 13.

A daughter of Kafwain, Daisy Devine was bred in Kentucky by J. Reiley McDonald and fetched a mere $5,500 at the 2009 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. She was produced by the Devil's Bag mare Devil's Dispute, who also reared the stakes-winning Patent Pending.

Daisy Devine's second dam is Grade 2 winner Impetuous Gal, the dam of multiple Grade 1-winning producer Banker's Lady and Grade 3 winner Idabel. Also hailing from this family are Grade 1 winner Ecton Park and multiple Grade 2 hero Banker's Gold.

Rivals of Delaunay lost ground through the stretch as he won the Gaudin Memorial by more than four lengths (Hodges Photography/Jamie Hernandez)

Delaunay solidified his position as the leading Fair Grounds-based sprinter with an impressive tally in the $72,000 F.W. Gaudin Memorial. Under Shaun Bridgmohan, the Smoke Glacken gelding set splits of :21 2/5 and :44, shook off Hamiltonian approaching the quarter pole and drew clear to win by 4 1/4 lengths in a time of 1:09 for six furlongs on the fast main track. The 3-5 favorite returned $3.40, $2.20 and $2.10.

Gantry, last year's Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap winner, rallied for second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Hamiltonian. It was more than eight lengths back to Flashpoint, who was a long ways ahead of the trailing Hollywood Hit. Laurie's Rocket and Pass the Dice were scratched, the former in favor of Saturday's King Cotton at Oaklawn Park.

"He doesn't like the rail, but that's where he was today, so Shaun and I made the decision to try to run them off their feet, go very, very fast and just try to coast home at the end," trainer Tom Amoss said. "(Owner) Maggie (Moss) and I will talk about it, but if I had my druthers, I'd look for him to come back in the Duncan Kenner (on March 9)."

Delaunay has now compiled a mark of 37-12-8-3, $449,455. The six-year-old was an allowance-caliber horse through 2011, and then dipped into the claiming ranks last year where he proved popular at the claim box. Acquired via claim for $40,000 by Moss at Churchill Downs last May, Delaunay has now won five of six starts for his present connections, all in stakes. His previous black type scores came in the Kelly's Landing and Bet on Sunshine at Churchill Downs, the Temperence Hill at Louisiana Downs, and the Thanksgiving Handicap at Fair Grounds prior to this one.

Delaunay was bred in Maryland by Robert Meyerhoff's Fitzhugh LLC. He was produced by the stakes-winning Perilous Night, a Coronado's Quest mare who also reared the stakes-placed Night Officer. Delaunay's second dam was Grade 3 winner Broad Smile, and his third dam was Grade 1 queen Wings of Jove.

Animal Style found an outside path on the Stall-Wilson turf course favorable (Hodges Photography/Lynn Roberts)

More than six lengths behind with a furlong to go, Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Animal Style turned in a strong, wide rally to garner top honors in the inaugural running of the $75,000 Van Berg, an about 5 1/2-furlong turf race for three-year-olds.

Under Shaun Bridgmohan, Animal Style was closer to the outside rail as he overtook 16-1 chance Strong Response en route to a 1 1/2-length score in a time of 1:05 4/5. The 5-1 fourth choice Animal Style paid $12.60, $6.40 and $4.20.

"He had two horses beat early on but he was down in the inside and I didn't think he was traveling very comfortably down there," Bridgmohan said. "So I opted to tip him to the outside and I think that's when he got his feet under him and he, obviously, had a big turn of foot."

Strong Response held second by a length over 17-1 shot Evan's Calling. Completing the order of finish were Agave Cat, Strike the Note, 6-5 favorite Party Lad, Seeking Payday, Sir Pulpit, Nev's Cat, and Jo Jo's Comet. The latter set the early pace of :22 and :47 1/5 while under pressure from Strong Response.

Initially campaigned by Roger Braugh Jr. and trainer Chuck Peery, Animal Style finished third and second in his first two outings, both in maiden claiming company. Haltered for $30,000 out of a disappointing fourth-place finish in his third career start, Animal Style next tried the turf and finished second to Evan's Calling in a December 15 maiden special weight at Fair Grounds in his debut for the Ramseys. They bay added blinkers for his next race, an off-the-turf maiden on January 13, and won that 5 1/2-furlong dash by 1 1/4 lengths. His record now stands at 6-2-2-1, $83,410.

A son of Spanish Steps, Animal Style was bred in Kentucky by Eduardo Racing Stables and was produced by the Grade 3-winning Seeking the Sky. That Seeking the Gold mare has also produced this year's Grade 2 Palos Verdes winner Sahara Sky.

Other notables from this family are Grade 1 winner Bachelor Beau, Grade 2 vixens Seeking Regina and Just Jenda, and Grade 3 winners Dixie Band and All Squared Away

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