Daisy Devine, winner of the 2012 Jenny Wiley (Grade I), will carry the top weight of 120 pounds when she takes on five fillies and mares in the 37th running of the $100,000-added Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
James Miller's Daisy Devine, a winner of half of her 20 career starts with earnings of more than $1 million, most recently finished third behind Stephanie's Kitten and Hungry Island in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Presented by Longines (GII) on Kentucky Derby Day over a Matt Winn Turf Course that was rated “good.”
“She's been doing great,” trainer Andrew McKeever said. “In her last race she was a little out of her style and I think she got labored a little going over that ground. I'm not making excuses, though, for losing to Stephanie's Kitten and Hungry Island.”
A 5-year-old bay daughter of Kafwain, Daisy Devine could set the pace in the 1 1/16-mile Early Times Mint Julep Handicap, but McKeever said she doesn't have to be on the lead.
“If there's a lot of pace, then she won't be on the lead, but if there's no pace, then she probably will be,” McKeever said. “We'll see what happens, but we're not going to get in a speed duel.”
In addition to winning last year's Jenny Wiley, Daisy Devine's career also is highlighted by a narrow victory in the Cardinal Handicap (GIII) on the Matt Winn Turf Course last November and victories in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) and Valley View (GIII) in 2011.
The Early Times Mint Julep Handicap field also includes graded stakes winners Miz Ida, Heavenly Landing and Colonial Flag.
Four of the six career victories for Bert, Elaine and Richard Klein's homebred Miz Ida have come in stakes events, including a division of the Valley View (GIII) at Keeneland in 2012. In her 4-year-old debut, Miz Ida finished second behind Exclusive Love in an allowance/optional-claiming event on the Matt Winn Turf Course on May 12.
Lally Stable's Heavenly Landing exits the same one-mile race at Churchill Downs and finished third beaten 1 ¾ lengths by Exclusive Love. Winner of the 2012 Marshua's River (GIII) at Gulfstream Park, Heavenly Landing finished second by a neck to Bizzy Caroline in last year's Early Times Mint Julep Handicap.
Skara Glen Stables, W. S. Farish and George Prussin's Colonial Flag will be making her 4-year-old debut in the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap. Winner of the Ontario Colleen (GIII) at Woodbine last August, Colonial Flag has not started since finishing third behind Centre Court and Leading Astray in the Mrs. Revere (GII) at Churchill Downs in November.
Other fillies entered in the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap are Carl Pollard and Earl Reed's Soft Whisper, who is coming off a 1 ¼-length victory on the Matt Winn Turf Course on Kentucky Oaks Day, and G. Watts Humphrey Jr.'s homebred Run a Risk, a two-time winner and runner-up to Miz Ida in last year's Indiana Distaff.
The Early Times Mint Julep Handicap is scheduled as Race 9 on Saturday's 11-race program at Churchill Downs with a post time of 4:59 p.m. (all times Eastern). Post time for the first race is 12:45 p.m.
The field for the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap from the rail out: Colonial Flag (ridden by Joe Rocco Jr., weighted at 118 pounds), Run a Risk (Victor Lebron, 114), Miz Ida (Shaun Bridgmohan, 117), Heavenly Landing (Corey Lanerie, 117), Daisy Devine (Brian Hernandez Jr., 120) and Soft Whisper (Jesus Castanon, 115).
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