02/21/2012 6:38PM

Fair Grounds: Daisy Devine takes Mardi Gras comfortably

Lou Hodges Jr.
Daisy Devine, with James Graham riding, pulls away to win the Mardi Gras.

When Daisy Devine won a $30,000 maiden-claiming race in the second start of her career, she already had earned back the $5,500 owner James Miller paid for her at auction. The rest has been gravy -- and there has been plenty of it.

Tuesday at Fair Grounds, Daisy Devine won the sixth race of her career, capturing the $75,000 Mardi Gras Handicap by 2 1/2 lengths over Cherokee Queen. The victory gave 4-year-old Daisy Devine, winner of the 2011 Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks, a perfect 3-for-3 record on turf and was her first victory outside age-restricted competition. The $45,000 winner's share of the Mardi Gras purse raised Daisy Devine's career bankroll to $578,349, an epic return on investment for Mr. Miller.

Daisy Devine and jockey James Graham got an ideal trip tracking the soft pace of Alluring Squall in a race that scratched down to just five runners. Alluring Squall set fractions of 24.66 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 50.61 for the first half, but was quickly overtaken when Daisy Devine got serious. Cherokee Queen, a two-time turf-stakes winner at the meet, tried to make a race of the Mardi Gras in midstretch, but Daisy Devine drew clear to win comfortably, with Rose Medallion third.

The winner, a daughter of Kafwain bred by J. Reiley McDondald and trained by Andrew McKeever, paid $4.80 to win, and was timed in 1:47.19 for 1 1/16 miles over yielding turf.