11/24/2011 1:37PM

Fair Grounds: Daisy Devine not sneaking up in Pago Hop

Coady Photography/Keeneland
Daisy Devine should be favored in Saturday's Pago Hop at Fair Grounds.

NEW ORLEANS – A horseplayer who had wagered $2 to win on Daisy Devine in all nine of her starts would be, well, a very happy horseplayer. Those $18 worth of win bets have brought back $190.80 through Daisy Devine’s four victories, two at astronomical odds. Last December at Fair Grounds, she won a first-level allowance race at 40-1, and last month at Keeneland, she captured the Valley View Stakes at 43-1.

But Daisy Devine will not be sneaking up on anyone Saturday at Fair Grounds, where she’s likely to be favored in the $75,000 Pago Hop, a one-mile grass race for 3-year-old fillies. Daisy Devine drew the outside post in a nine-horse field and figures to be solidly favored over likely second choice Don’t Tell Sophia.

The only other time Daisy Devine was favored to win a race, when she was 1-2 in the Iowa Oaks last summer, she finished a distant fifth. But Daisy Devine was fighting foot problems at the time, her trainer, Andy McKeever, said this week, and she came back to her best form while making her turf debut in the Valley View.

“You’ve got to like her on the turf, since she won first time on it,” McKeever said. “This course is so much different than Keeneland’s. We’ll just have to see how she does with it.”

Daisy Devine worked five furlongs in 1:00.20 here Nov. 19, the fastest of 75 works at the distance, but it’s no secret Daisy Devine likes the Fair Grounds main track, since she won the Fair Grounds Oaks here this past spring. There is a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms Saturday in New Orleans, and a move to the main track wouldn’t hurt Daisy Devine.

A rain-off, in fact, is what Phil Sims, trainer of Don’t Tell Sophia, is hoping for. Don’t Tell Sophia has won on Polytrack and turf, and she didn’t especially care for the Churchill course when fifth two weeks ago in the Mrs. Revere Stakes, but Don’t Tell Sophia’s career-best performance came on dirt.

“I’ve been keeping a close eye on the forecast,” said Sims, who is spending his first meet at Fair Grounds.

Ruthenia is in from Florida for trainer Christophe Clement. She and Poof Too look like the likeliest of the longshots.

◗ Saturday’s sixth race is billed as the Fair Grounds Legends purse. The 12 claimers in the race will carry the names and silks of famous Fair Grounds horses, though the race will be conducted under normal parimutuel rules. Track announcer John Dooley will call the race using the legends’ names.