James Miller's 5-year-old daughter of Kafwain stopped the clock in 1:46.60 for 1 1/16 miles in her season debut, with 19-1 shot Ausus giving game pursuit 1 3/4 lengths back in second. Daisy Devine is now just short of millionaire status, with $991,281 earned in 17 starts.
Jockey James Graham moved Daisy Devine over to the two path immediately after breaking from the rail, and the classy speedster assumed her typical position at the head of the pack for early fractions of :24.34 and :50.70. Zapper Belle, Artemus Kitten, and Totheendoftheearth followed as the Andrew McKeever trainee maintained a one-length advantage with Ausus and Anniversary Girl bringing up the rear.
"She got across it fine," Graham said of the softer going. "It is still a little bit soft out there, but she's run good on it before.. she is a good horse to ride and I'm a good passenger. As long as she was happy I was going to be happy too."
Heading into the turn for three-quarters in 1:15.54, Daisy Devine increased her lead to 2 1/2 lengths, then was three lengths in front kicking away into the stretch. Ausus had six lengths to make up and closed determinedly through a mile in 1:39.86 but was no threat to the winner, who maintained a safe advantage under steady handling. It was 13 3/4 lengths back to Anniversary Girl in third.
"She ran on a soft turf course when she won the Pago Hop (in 2011) so I wasn't too concerned and she won on a soft turf at Keeneland so I was confident that she would handle it," McKeever said.
Daisy Devine returned $2.20, $2.20, and $2.10 while Ausus paid $8 and $3.60 and Anniversary Girl brought $5.60. Zapper Belle, Artemus Kitten, and Totheendoftheearth completed the order of finish.
Bred in Kentucky by J. Reiley McDonald out of the Devil's Bag mare Devil's Dispute, Daisy Devine improved her record to 10-2-1. Her other victories in the recent trio were a six-length romp in the Blushing K.D. Handicap at Fair Grounds Dec. 22, and a determined score by a head over Julie's Love in the Nov. 10 Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs.
In her 3-year-old season Daisy Devine took the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) before being moved to turf in the fall of 2011, the same year she won the Pin Oak Valley View (gr. IIIT) to begin a four-race win streak capped by a victory in the 2012 Jenny Wiley (gr. IT) on the Keeneland lawn.
"We will look at the Bayou Handicap (Feb. 23) possibly and go from there," said McKeever. "The Jenny Wiley is our main goal for the year."