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Daisy Devine, Strike Impact, China Win Turf Stakes On Santa Super Saturday

NEW ORLEANS (Saturday, December 22, 2012) – James Miller’s odds-on choice Daisy Devine was no disappointment to her many backers in the $75,000 Blushing K.D. Handicap on Santa Super Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

The Kentucky-bred daughter of Kafwain who won the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks in 2011 on the main track turned her talents to the Stall-Wilson Turf Course for the weekend, breezing home to a six-length score in the grassy Blushing K.D. – a race named after the 1997 Fair Grounds Oaks and Kentucky Oaks winner.

Away alertly and quickly in command, Daisy Devine set early splits of 24 flat and 49.42 before accomplishing the final time in 1:44.12 over the about 1 1/16-mile distance on firm ground.

“A paid workout,” winning jockeyBrian Hernandez Jr. called her race, while trainerAndy McKeever beamed in the winner’s circle that she “looked as good as ever” and that he would continue to take things one day at a time with his sometimes fragile filly.

Daisy Devine returned mutuels of $2.40, $2.10 and $2.10 and increased her career earnings to $946,281 with her fourth win in eight lifetime starts. Sam-Son Farms’ Forest Uproar finished second paying $3.80 and $2.20 while 10 3/4-lengths farther back in third was John Chandler’s Francisca, who returned $2.10 to show.

STRIKE IMPACT HITS FOR SOLID SCORE IN ‘BUDDY’ DILIBERTO MEMORIAL ’CAP – Chester Miller and Patrick Dupuy’s Strike Impact struck gold with a solid one-length score in Saturday’s $75,000 “Buddy” Diliberto Memorial Handicap at the Crescent City oval.

Trained by Pat Dupuy, the 8-year-old Smart Strike gelding benefitted from a stalking trip flawlessly engineered by jockey Shaun Bridgmohan,who gained the lead in upper stretch and then withstood the late-running Hotep, owned by Sam-Son Farms.

I just wanted to give him a better trip than I did last time,” said Bridgmohan in the winner’s circle. “In his last race I think I just got in his way.”

Strike Impact, claimed by his trainer and co-owner in 2009, returned surprisingly high mutuels of $19.40, $9.60 and $4.20, accomplished the about 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:46.38 over the firm Stall-Wilson Turf Course and increased his career earnings to $657,393 with his 18th win from 69 lifetime starts.

Hotep paid $5 and $3.40 in the second spot while David Holloway Racing’s Dubious Miss was a neck farther back in third and returned $2.80.

CHINASURPRISES IN $75,000 BONAPAW STAKES WITH $74.20 WIN PAYOFF – Black Sheep Racing’s Chinamay have been the black sheep as the longest price of the Bonapaw family field, but that didn’t stop him from stealing off early and then holding off the rest for a neck score – lighting up the tote board with mutuels of $74.20, $21.20 and $7.80.

“I never thought I’d be on the lead but he broke so sharp I just let him go,” said winning rider John Jacinto in the winner’s circle.

Jacinto, who was unseated following the second race and needed assistance from two others to walk off the track after that incident, seemed none the worse for wear after the Bonapaw. Two races later, he won the $60,000 Letellier Memorial astride the aptly named Finding More,owned by Daniel Kenny and trained by Kellyn Gorder, who paid $19 to win.

However, after the Bonapaw, winning trainer John Good seemed as surprised as his rider. “Even putting him in this race itself was kind of an audible,” Good said. “It was just that the surface switch (dirt to turf) made sense.”

China dashed the about 5 1/2- furlong distance over a firm Stall-Wilson turf course in 1:04.75 following his early fractions of 22.14 and 45.04. He increased his career earnings to $271,072 with his sixth victory in 18 career starts.

Fletcher and Carolyn Gray’s Icon Ike finished second, returning $7.20 and $4.60, while Luch Racing Stables’ Global Power got up for third a length and a quarter farther back to pay $7.

The biggest disappointment in the Bonapaw came from 2010 Grade II Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner ChamberlainBridge, who finished fourth as the choice of the fans.

“He just didn’t show up with his ‘A’ game today,” said his trainer Bret Calhoun. “We didn’t quite get the trip we were looking for.”

Earlier in the afternoon, Calhoun tasted sweet victory with Gary and Mary West’s Tour Guide in the $60,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes, with Brian Hernandez Jr. up. That speedy juvenile colt paid $2.60 to win and could possibly be stretched out to longer distances for the upcoming local series for sophomores that will conclude with the $1 million Louisiana Derby March 30.

Hernandez went on to win five races on the 12-race program, including two for trainer Al Stall Jr. and owners Claiborne Farm & Adele B. Dilschneider. In the 10th race, Bind returned from a 1 1/2-year layoff to win an entry-level allowance going six furlongs. One race later, first-time starter Departing won the deepest and most highly anticipated juvenile maiden special weight of the meet to date.


Race 10-$47,000 Allowance

Three-years-old and up, six furlongs, NW1X

Trainer Al Stall Jr. (Bind, winner):“He’s a good horse and I’m thrilled that he made it back; he deserves to come back. His injury wasn’t exactly Earth-shattering either, you know, things just got a little complicated. He got some screws put in, the head of the screw reacted. Nothing really was terribly wrong but we just removed the screw and gave him some more time. It cost him about eight or nine months.

“He’s obviously got the looks and there’s talent there, we’ll just have to see how he comes back and we’re just going to creep along, take our time. Hopefully he’s a solid horse for the spring and the summer somewhere.”

Coming off such a long layoff it’s safe to assume he wasn’t very tight?“I made that mistake the first time he ran. He ran 1:08 and 4 and won by 10 so we weren’t going to do that again. He won this race in the seventy-to eighty-percentile and we just hope he builds himself up on his own. We didn’t want him to do what he did first time out. That was impressive and fun and everything but that’s not the right way to treat an animal and hopefully we did it a little different this time.

“We’ll just stay around here and find, most probably, an allowance race here, maybe Oaklawn if we have to, and then see where we’re at.”


Race 9-$60,000 Letellier Memorial Stakes

Two-year-old fillies, six furlongs

Jockey John Jacinto (Finding More, winner):“The instruction was to play it by ear, you know, see how she breaks. She broke really well and, thank God, this race set up perfect for us, you know. And when I saw those in front come back to me I said, I’m going to wait a little longer, and finally when I asked her to go for it she really did.”

Assistant trainer Evan Downing (Finding More, winner):“Kellyn (Gorder, trainer) said to tell him to break and see what happens. She’ll either be lying right off of them or if she finds herself in front without having to work too hard for it then it’s OK.

“I think we will see if she can go two turns. The owner remembered the sire, Trickey Trevor, and happened to be in Washington and saw this filly in the sale. She was one or two in the sale and was going to sell right away. He remembered the sire being really fast and thought nobody else would even know who that was. He looked at the filly and she was pretty correct and clean and he bought her for $4,500. And here we are! It does sound like she has more sprint breeding but she won going seven-eighths last time so we’ll probably try.”


Race 8-$75,000 Bonapaw Stakes

Three-years-old and up, About 5 ½ furlongs on turf, 7th running

Jockey John Jacinto (China, winner):“In the first place my instruction was to let him go and don’t fight with him. I never thought we would be in the lead but he broke so sharp and I just kind of let him go and the plan worked out great. The whole run, a great race. Thank you to these guys, they do a great job, and the trainer too. I am thankful for that.  He ran a big race for me today.”

Trainer John Good (China, winner):“I just wanted to try him out. His last race was a little bit disappointing here over the main track. I said we should give him a shot on the turf. It was an honor to beat some really nice horses in here like Chamberlain Bridge and stuff so I am pumped.

“I was just hoping to break well, which he usually does. I told Johnny don’t take nothing away from him and just let him go on with it. I know how quick this horse is and he always digs in at the end. It was just a case of the trip that he got and it worked out good.”

What’s next?“I haven’t really thought about it yet. This race itself was kind of an audible. You know, like I said, I was a bit disappointed with his last effort because he had been training well but the first race on this surface it can be a little bit testing. When I saw him work I thought that this was a logical spot and he’s probably not good enough to hang with the dirt sprinters around here this winter, so this surface switch made sense. “


Race 6-$60,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes

Two-year-olds, six furlongs

Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. (Tour Guide, winner): “He was the fastest horse in the race and I just wanted to be a good passenger on him and sat out there and let him do his thing.”

Trainer Bret Calhoun (Tour Guide, winner):“He did run a huge effort at Churchill. It was big field with a lot of good horses. He was very impressive that day. And basically we just stayed out of his way from there to here. He’s healthy and doing well right now.”

“He’s still growing and developing and he’s doing it very slowly. He’s a very fast horse, for sure, and we’ll just have to see if we can harness some of that speed and stretch it out. “

“I do think there’s more left in the tank. This horse gets a little bit lost when he’s out on the lead.”

What’s next? “I’m not sure right now. I’m going to talk it over with the owners the next week or so. Get a game plan. Talk to Brian a little bit and see what he thinks. Pedigree-wise this horse should stretch out. The last two-turn race was definitely a throw-out race. We may have to try it again.”

Why should the two-turn try at Delaware be considered a toss-out?“There were multiple things. He had some chronic respiratory problems up there. He was having some displacing problems and didn’t get the best of rides and just a lot of things didn’t go right that day. We got him off the East Coast to Churchill and got all the respiratory problems cleared up and did a little minor throat surgery on him and it’s worked pretty well since then.”


Race 5-Buddy Diliberto Memorial Handicap

Three-years-old and up, About 1 1/16 miles on turf, 7th running

Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan (Strike Impact, winner):“I just wanted to give him a better trip than I did last time when it didn’t go his way. Kind of got in his way. Stayed out of his way today. Pat did a phenomenal job with him and all I had to do was keep him out of trouble.

“The horse on the lead was going comfortable, but he’s an old, classy horse, and I asked him turning for home and he just bellied down to run and gave me everything he had.

“A horse like this has done it so long and is used to competing on a high level. He knows what to do and basically I just try to stay out of his way. Last time we had not a very good trip; things just didn’t go his way. Today I was just looking to give him a much smoother trip and he’s such a professional, you just stay out of his way and let him do his job.”

Co-owner Chet Miller (Strike Impact, winner): “Today he had some of the toughest competition in his career and he did wonderfully well. He wouldn’t have been here if Pat wasn’t his trainer. Pat did a wonderful job keeping him together all of these years. Shaun rode him perfect. I think he is ready for bigger things.”

Will the Jan. 19, $125,000 Colonel Bradley (GIII) be next? “He placed last year.  I’m thinking he’ll do better this year than that. We are coming.”


Race 3-$75,000 Blushing K.D. Handicap

Fillies & mares, Three-years-old and up, About 1 1/16 miles on turf, 5th running

Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. (Daisy Devine, winner):“She is a nice filly. I actually won on her as a two-year-old and she’s gotten a lot better today. That was kind of a paid workout for her. She turned for home, I dropped my hands a little and she knew what time it was. She is all professional.”

“She was really impressive. She kind of got to go around there as easy as she wanted. Turning for home I let her switch leads and then I smooched at her once and she picked it up real quick. I was kind of surprised at how fast she picked it up because when I rode her as a two-year-old she used to look around a lot. By the eighth-pole I had to look back because I couldn’t believe how easily she was doing it. It was more or less a paid workout for her today.”

How do you feel today (after being thrown and stepped on by a horse in the paddock Wednesday)? “I’m good. I’m taped up pretty good. We are just ready for the good horses we are riding today and just glad we were able to start it off the right way with Daisy here. She showed the kind of champion is.”

Trainer Andrew McKeever (Daisy Devine, winner): “She looks as good as ever. We just take it as we go. I think the next race is January 19th (the $75,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf) and we go from there. The main objective is the (Grade I, $300,000) Jenny Wiley at Keeneland (on April 14).”