11/10/2012 5:17PM

Churchill Downs: Daisy Devine fights her way to Cardinal victory

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Daisy Devine, inside, refuses to let Julia's Love by in deep stretch of the Cardinal Handicap.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Daisy Devine proved her class when blowing a big early lead before digging in to defeat Julia’s Love in a thrilling stretch-long duel Saturday in the 39th running of the Grade 3, $111,500 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs.

Calvin Borel guided Daisy Devine, a Grade 1 winner carrying topweight of 122 pounds, to a long lead entering the backstretch of the 1 1/8-mile turf  race.

Andrew McKeever, who trains Daisy Devine for James F. Miller, thought that perhaps Daisy Devine had gone too fast early, “but I wasn’t sure, because they never put up any early fractions.”

So all McKeever, standing solo in a third-floor clubhouse box, could do was cheer vigorously for Daisy Devine. His rooting must have worked, as Borel kept Daisy Devine ahead by a slim margin all the way down the stretch, ultimately prevailing by a head.

Daisy Devine, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Kafwain, returned $6.20 as second choice after finishing the distance in a hand-timed 1:47.29 over firm going. She earned $66,365, lifting her bankroll to $901,281. Based at Keeneland, she will soon head to Fair Grounds for the winter, said McKeever.

Julia’s Love, a 6-1 shot under Joe Rocco Jr., was another 3 1/4 lengths before Last Full Measure, a 22-1 shot in the field of nine fillies and mares. Bizzy Caroline, bet down to 9-5 favoritism, had no mishap when finishing fifth.

The $2 exacta (4-9) paid $39.80; the $1 trifecta (4-8-6) returned $272.90; and the dime superfecta (4-9-6-8) was worth $147.55.

A Churchill official said they did in fact experience a momentary malfunction in the electronic timer, although it was limited only to the Cardinal. The time of 1:47.29 tentatively stands as a stakes record, but because it was hand-timed, there is some doubt as to whether it will be considered the record, according to an Equibase representative.