Praying for Cash ran his way into the $1 million Haskell Invitational (gr. I) Saturday with a game victory in the $150,000 Long Branch Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Monmouth Park.Praying for Cash, trained by Monmouth's leading conditioner Kelly Breen and ridden for the first time by Jose Velez Jr., battled with Latent Heat, the 1-2 favorite, for most of the 1 1/16-mile Long Branch while stuck down on the inside the whole trip. The two entered the final furlong on almost even terms, but Praying for Cash dug down gamely and put his rival away in the run to the wire, finishing 1 1/4 lengths in front. He stopped the timer in 1:45 2/5.Latent Heat held off a hard-charging Victory Lake by a neck for the place. Gottcha Gold was fourth and Meadow Blue, part of an entry with Praying for Cash, was last of the five sophomore starters.The winner earned an invitation to run in the Haskell, the nine-furlong centerpiece of the Monmouth meeting to be run Aug. 6.In winning the Long Branch, Praying for Cash paid $10.60 and $2.40 as third choice. Latent Heat paid $2.20 for place and completed the $21.80 exacta. There was no show wageringIt was the third Monmouth score in four tries for Praying for Cash, and the bay son of Songandaprayer--Cash No Credit, by West By West, earned a prize of $90,000 for owners Bobby Hurley, Rick Gallo, and Scire LLC. The winner's share more than doubled the colt's lifetime bankroll, bringing it to $151,630. In his last start in the Coronado's Quest, Praying for Cash tried two turns for the first time and was compromised by a slow start."Going two turns for the first time is tough on a horse, and that's probably what happened to him last time," Breen said. "He ran a real tough race today. We weren't necessarily going to the lead. We left that up to Jose. If nobody went with Latent Heat, then we were going to press him.
"It wasn't the best of trips," Breen said. "He got stuck down on the inside the whole way, but he showed a lot of grit and dug in."(Chart, Equibase)