Daisy Devine Delivers in FG Oaks

James M. Miller’s Daisy Devine earned a trip to Louisville with an impressive half-length win over Dede McGehee’s St. John’s River in Saturday’s Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks, the richest prep race for 3-year-old fillies aspiring to the prestigious May 6 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.

Four of the last six winners of the Fair Grounds Oaks have gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks: Rachel Alexandra in 2009, Proud Spell in 2008, Summerly in 2005 and Ashado in 2004 (the race was not run the season following Hurricane Katrina).

Daisy Devine enjoyed a trouble-free trip with James Graham in the irons, racing in the two-path about one length behind pacesetter Grandacious, who set moderate fractions of 24.21, 48.50 and 1:13.14. Daisy Devine took command in upper stretch and then inched away, finishing the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.25.

“She’d trained super going into the race,” said winning conditioner Andrew McKeever. “We skipped the (Feb. 19 Grade III Rachel Alexandra) and trained her into the race and that did her a lot of good. That was a perfect trip today.”

St. John’s River closed from the back of the field to get second, as did the third-place finisher, Landaluce Educe’s Niji’s Grand Girl.

The order of finish was completed by Inglorious, Grandacious, Tapit Dancer, Tourmaline, Switching Gears and Little Miss Holly.

The winner paid $11, $5.40 and $3.80, while St. John’s River paid $8.60 and $5.20 and Niji’s Grand Girl returned $3.80.

The victory was Daisy Devine’s first in a stakes race and the $300,000 winner’s share boosted her career earnings to $359,788.