It has taken more than nine months, but Bob Baffert may have finally found his top 3-year-old. Zayat Stables’ Prayer for Relief made a strong case for that title when he held off Populist Politics and Awesome Bet in the stretch to win the $500,000 Super Derby (gr. II) (VIDEO) in wire-to-wire fashion Sept. 10 at Louisiana Downs.
It was the fourth consecutive victory for Prayer for Relief, three of them coming in graded stakes company. The son of Jump Start won by 2 1/2 lengths as the 6-5 favorite, covering 1 1/8 miles on the fast dirt in 1:52.29 under Rafael Bejarano.
The winning dark bay/brown colt was bred in Kentucky by G. R. Aschinger and is out of the Mr. Sparkles mare Sparklin Lil. Ahmad Zayat bought him for $80,000 at the Keeneland September 2009 yearling sale. Legacy Bloodstock consigned the colt.
The key to victory for Prayer for Relief was the easy fractions he was allowed to get away with. After breaking sharply from post 5, he went to the front and took the field of nine around in pedestrian-like splits of :24.48, :50.31, 1:15.49, and 1:40.08. Trubs pressed the pace, with Mr. Woodrow and Meistersinger also racing toward the front.
Prayer for Relief was finally challenged after turning for home, as Populist Politics and Awesome Bet were in perfect striking position from the outside, just a head in back of the leader at the eighth-pole. But Prayer for Relief had more left and he repelled both of their bids in mid-stretch en route to his determined win.
Awesome Bet and Justin Shepherd nosed Populist Politics and Gerard Melancon for second, while Alternation was another 1 1/2 lengths back in fourth.
Prayer for Relief was offered for a $50,000 tag as a juvenile when breaking his maiden last October at Hollywood Park in his third start. In his second start of 2011 he won an allowance contest there, then reeled off consecutive graded wins in the Iowa Derby (gr. III) and West Virginia Derby (gr. II). Baffert considered running him in the Travers (gr. I), but decided to try the Super Derby instead.
Improving to 5-0-1 from eight starts, Prayer for Relief has now banked $965,500 in his career.
The favorite paid $4.20, $3.20, and $3.20. Awesome Bet returned $9.20 and $5.40, and filled out a $41 exacta (5-9). The trifecta (5-9-4) was worth $391.40 with 19-1 Populist Politics.