Zayat Stables' favored Prayer for Relief, second in his only two starts this year, broke through with a victory in the $300,000 Cornhusker Handicap (gr. III) at Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino June 29 (VIDEO).
With Ricardo Santana Jr. riding for trainer Steve Asmussen, 9-10 choice Prayer for Relief won for the first time since taking the 2011 Super Derby (gr. II), ending a 12-race losing string. In his first two starts of 2013, he finished second to stablemate Master Rick in the Lone Star Park Handicap and Texas Mile (both gr. III) at Lone Star Park.
Prayer for Relief, a 5-year-old horse by Jump Start out of the Mr. Sparkles mare Sparklin Lil, was bred in Kentucky by G.R. Aschinger. Prayer for Relief, when trained by Bob Baffert, won the West Virginia Derby (gr. II) as well as the Super Derby as a 3-year-old.
The early pace in the Cornhusker was set by Silver Max, who went an opening quarter-mile in :24.63 and a half-mile in :48.33 while tracked by Taptowne, Tiz Ready, and Prayer for Relief. Taptowne took the first shot at the leader through six furlongs in 1:12.62, with Prayer for Relief about one length back on the outside.
Taptowne, ridden by Calvin Borel, opened up a bit entering the stretch but was headed by Prayer for Relief with about a sixteenth of a mile to go. Prayer for Relief then kicked away to win by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:49.96 for 1 1/18 miles on a fast track.
Taptowne, second in a tough allowance race at Churchill Downs in his last start, easily finished second, 5 1/4 lengths ahead of early leader Silver Max in third. Nicklaus Way, Tiz Ready, and Red Lead completed the order of finish.
Prayer for Relief, who improved his career record to 6-5-4 from 21 starts with earnings of $1,419,725, paid $3.80, $2.20, and $2.20. Taptowne returned $3.60 and $2.60, while Silver Max paid $2.80. The exacta paid $9.60 and the trifecta returned $22.