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Daisy Devine (inside) holds on to nip Julie's Love in the Cardinal Handicap on Saturday at Churchill Downs. (Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography)

By Claire Novak, @BH_CNovak

Daisy Devine would not be denied a return to the winner's circle Nov. 10, taking the $100,000 Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs after a ding-dong battle with Julie's Love.

Making her second start off a layup and second last time out in the Oct. 6 First Lady Stakes (gr. IT) at Keeneland, Daisy Devine led all the way in the 1 1/8-mile turf event against eight other fillies and mares and finished the distance in 1:47.29. It was her first victory for trainer Andrew McKeever since an April 14 score in the Jenny Wiley (gr. IT) at Keeneland, after which she went to the shelf for five months.

The 4-year-old daughter of Kafwain   sailed through opening fractions of :23.63 and :47.32, completely relaxed under looping reins and jockey Calvin Borel. Bizzy Caroline, favored at 9-5, contended along the inside and was second at the half-mile pole, but lacked response when called upon.

As the field neared the turn for home, Julie's Love advanced from fourth to contest the leader, who had opened a six-length advantage at the half and was still a length in front after three-quarters in 1:11.82. But Daisy Devine proved unyielding after a prolonged stretch drive through a mile in 1:35.42, and held on by a head.

It was 3 1/4 lengths back to Last Full Measure. Fugitive Angel, Bizzy Caroline, Revelstoke, Indian Pond, Affair Dabbler, and La Cloche completed the order of finish.

Daisy Devine, off at 2-1, returned $6.20, $3.60, and $3.40 while Julie's Love brought $6.60 and $4.60 and Last Full Measure paid $6.60.

Bred in Kentucky by J. Reiley McDonald out of the Devil's Bag mare Devil's Dispute, Daisy Devine now has a 8-2-1 record from 15 starts, with earnings of $901,281.

Her other graded stakes scores, all earned in 2011, include the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II), the Pin Oak Valley View Stakes (gr. IIIT), and the Pago Hop Stakes and Mardi Gras Handicap at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

For an Equibase chart, click here.



Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

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