06/28/2012 3:20PM

Arlington: Maude S makes stakes debut in Chicago Handicap


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – It’s a good bet that memories of Keeneland’s 2009 September yearling sale will stick with owner James Miller. Miller bought two horses at the sale: a daughter of Kafwain, for whom he paid $5,500, and a filly by Jump Start, who cost $8,500. The Kafwain filly, Daisy Devine, has earned $764,914 and won the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes in April. The Jump Start was called Maude S, and after turning in one of the most impressive performances of the Arlington meet May 23, she makes her stakes debut Saturday in the Grade 3, $150,000 Chicago Handicap.

Daisy Devine and Maude S are the only two active horses for Miller, a resident of Aiken, S.C., who has been dabbling in Thoroughbreds since 1983 – never winning a stakes before Daisy Devine came along.

“We’re small, and we just don’t have a lot of money to spend,” Miller said. “We do it for enjoyment. We buy these cheaper horses and hope to get lucky.”

Miller bought both fillies from Reiley McDonald of Eaton Sales; Daisy Devine and Maude S had grown up together on the farm.

“When they were in training, everyone thought Maude was the better horse,” Miller said.

While Daisy Devine made rapid strides early in her 3-year-old season, Maude S had a constitution prone to illness.

“She just kind of developed slowly,” Miller said.

Her development has accelerated this year. After a pair of second-place finishes to start 2012, Maude S, trained by Jimmy DiVito, won a two-turn, second-level allowance race April 18 on Hawthorne dirt. She followed that race with another breakthrough, bursting through along the rail to score a six-length victory in a third-level allowance May 23 at Arlington. In that race she beat Chicago Handicap entrant Lady Chesterfield while racing over the same trip she gets Saturday.

In a strange twist, the starting Chicago ’Cap highweight and the horse Maude S has to beat is Ariana D, a mare who resides in Andrew McKeever’s barn. McKeever trains Miller’s other horse, Daisy Devine, and trained Maude S until last summer, when the filly moved to Chicago.

Ariana D, an eight-time winner on synthetic surfaces, ran a good race to finish third behind Upperline in the May 26 Arlington Matron. At 1 1/8 miles, that race was farther than Ariana D’s ideal distance; the seven furlongs she gets Saturday might be her best trip.

“She seems to be doing good coming out of that last race,” McKeever said.Among the other entrants, Honey Chile could prove dangerous if left alone on the lead, and it’s quite possible she steals off to a clear early advantage.