James Miller’s Daisy Devine registered a determined front-running head victory in the Cardinal Handicap (G3) Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Andrew McKeever and ridden by Calvin Borel, Daisy Devine broke quick from the gate and dictated the pace through hand-timed fractions of :23.69, :47.32, 1:11.82 and 1:35.42. She opened a six-length lead down the backstretch along the hedge and dug in to meet the bid of Julie’s Love while leaving the final turn. The two matched strides down the stretch of the Matt Winn Turf Course but a stubborn Daisy Devine was resolute.
Churchill Downs’ teletimer malfunctioned during the race, but Daisy Devine was hand-timed for the 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:47.29, which would eclipse Bail Out Becky’s 1996 stakes record of 1:47.81.
The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Kafwain, who was the 122-pound starting high weight, paid $6.20, $3.60 and $3.40 as the 2-1 second choice. Julie’s Love-GB, a 6-1 shot ridden by Joe Rocco Jr. while toting 117 pounds, returned $6.60 and $4.60. Fugitive Angel, 9-5 favorite Bizzy Caroline, Revelstroke, Indian Pond, Affair Dabbler and La Cloche completed the order of finish.
The Cardinal, named for Kentucky’s state bird, was the fourth graded-stakes win for Daisy Devine. She won the Grade I Jenny Wiley at Keeneland in April after collecting 2011 victories in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks and Grade 3 Valley View.
She entered the Cardinal off a runner-up effort in the First Lady (G1) at Keeneland on Oct. 6, which was her first race since a fifth-place finish in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) on the Kentucky Derby Day undercard.
Saturday’s triumph was worth $66,365, which boosted Daisy Devine’s bankroll to $901,281. Overall, she has won 8 of 15 starts with two seconds and one third. One of her unplaced finishes came in the 2011 Kentucky Oaks (G1) when she finished seventh of 13.
–Churchill Downs Publicity
Daisy Devine/Reed Palmer photo