James Miller’s Daisy Devine,
who captured last spring’s Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks by a half-length
after finishing second by a neck in the local oval’s Silverbulletday
Stakes earlier in the season,
looms a strong choice when she faces eight rivals in Saturday’s 25th
renewal of the $75,000 Pago Hop Stakes, showcase of the third racing day
of New Orleans’ 2011-2012 Thoroughbred season.
Pago Hop is restricted to 3-year-old fillies and will be contested at
about one mile over Fair Grounds’ Stall-Wilson turf course.
her tally in Fair Grounds’ main event for sophomore members of the
distaff set last spring, Daisy Devine went on to the Grade I Kentucky
Oaks at Churchill Downs but was unable to match the Fair Grounds
Oaks-Kentucky Oaks double accomplished by her two immediate predecessors
Rachel Alexandra and Proud Spell. However, after two more indifferent
performances in the Grade III Iowa Oaks and Grade
II Indiana Oaks, Daisy Devine rebounded with a half-length score in
Keeneland’s Grade III Valley View Stakes in her most recent start Oct.
Valley View was Daisy Devine’s career debut on grass, and based on that
performance and her back class, the daughter of Kafwain trained
by Andrew McKeever appears to be in an excellent spot Saturday. Irish-born
James Graham will be in the irons.
Likely to be a worthy rival in the Pago Hop is Virginia Kraft Payson’s
Ruthenia, coming off three good stakes runs on the New York circuit. Most recently the
Christophe Clement trainee was fifth in
Belmont’s Pebble Stakes Oct. 10 but before that was runner-up in the Riskaverse Stakes at
Saratoga Sept. 2 and the Hattie Moseley July 31. Defending Fair Grounds jockey champion
Rosie Napravnik is up.
Capable of providing strong competition in the Pago Hop is Stephen Brown’s
Maggies Ransom, a daughter of 1995 Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch. Maggies Ransom, trained by Allen Milligan, broke her maiden by two lengths just over a year ago
Park in a turf test, returned to the
winner’s circle June 9 at Louisiana Downs in a grass race and made it
two in a row in her most recent effort over the Louisiana Downs lawn
Shaun Bridgmohan, Fair Grounds leading rider during the local session in 2009-2010, gets the mount on Maggies Ransom
Completing the Pago Hop field is Sarah and David Schwartz’ Annabel Lee, John Jacinto aboard; John
Fielding and Frederick Hertrich II’s Poof Too; Lucas Downs’
Fleur de Sel, Richard Eramia; Philip Sims and Jerry Namy’s
Don’t Tell Sophia, Victor Lebron; and Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s
Artemus Kitten, Miguel Mena.