Favored Prayer for Relief turned the tables on his local nemesis Alternation and held off a determined run from Worldly by a head in the $175,000 Governor's Cup Stakes on the night of Aug. 17 in at Remington Park. (VIDEO)
Last year, Alternation defeated Prayer for Relief by a nose in the Governor's Cup. In 2011 the pair ran in the Oklahoma Derby with Alternation finishing second, a head in front of Prayer for Relief, who ran third.
Owned by Zayat Stables of Hackensack, N.J., Prayer for Relief went into this year's Governor's Cup off a convincing June 29 win in the Cornhusker Handicap (gr. III) at Prairie Meadows.
With Ricardo Santana Jr. aboard, Prayer for Relief ran the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Governor's Cup in 1:50.42 on a fast track to narrowly defeat Worldy, with Stachys 1 1/4 lengths farther back in third. Alternation, who led Worldly through a pressured pace of :23.96, :48.09, and 1:12.38, faded to fourth with Liberty Bound last in the field of five.
As the 3-10 wagering favorite, Prayer for Relief relaxed into an easy stride and went wide through the first turn. However, he was never more than a few lengths from the pacesetting Alternation while racing fourth. Worldly, who was third in the 2011 Governor's Cup as a beaten favorite, pushed the pace throughout and refused to quit after Alternation gave way in the stretch.
Santana rode Prayer for Relief vigorously to the wire. "(Worldly) tried to come back on my horse but my horse fought back for the win," Santana said.
Darren Flemming, assistant for trainer Steve Asmussen, was equally proud of Prayer for Relief, a 5-year-old son of Jump Start from the Mr. Sparkles mare Sparklin Lil. "He's really come around but actually he's never run a real bad race. He fought hard last year to get beat in this same race."
G. R. Aschinger bred the winner in Kentucky. Prayer for Relief earned $105,000 for the win, boosting his overall bankroll to $1,524,725 with his seventh from 22 career starts.
Prayer for Relief paid $2.60, $2.20, and $2.10. Worldly paid $6.20 and $3. Stachys made a bold late run, briefly had the lead in the stretch and then held third to pay $3 to show.