Seeking his first win since taking the Gr. 2 Super Derby, PRAYER FOR RELIEF poured it on down the Prairie Meadows stretch and pulled away in the featured event of the track’s Iowa Festival of Racing, the $300,000 Cornhusker H.-G3, on Saturday, June 29.
It has been nearly two years since the 5-year-old millionaire had won a stakes, but it was not for a lack of trying. Now trained by Steve Asmussen for Zayat Stables, PRAYER FOR RELIEF had faced graded stakes company in all but two of his 13 starts since his Super Derby score in September 2011.
Eight times he was on the board, and his bankroll grew and grew. It now stands at $1,419,725 from 21 starts, and his record includes six wins, five seconds and four thirds. Among his stakes-placings during the stretch were seconds in the Mervyn LeRoy H.-G2, Lone Star Park H.-G3 and Texas Mile S.-G3 and thirds in the Strub S.-G2, San Fernando S.-G2 and Californian S.-G2.Add a comment Add a comment
The first stakes win of CENTRALINTELIGENCE’s career came against the best of compnay, as the 5-year-old son of SMARTY JONES rolled home to a snag Hollywood Park’s Gr. 1 Triple Bend H. by three and a half lengths over a stellar field of sprinters and milers on Saturday, June 29. A Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race, the Ron Ellis-trainee earned an automatic berth into the Dirt Mile-G1.Add a comment Add a comment
VERRAZANO, the year-younger half-brother to Northview PA’s newest sire, EL PADRINO, decimated the field in the Gr. 3 Pegasus S. at Monmouth Park on Sunday, June 16, leading at every call and cruising home to win by nine and a quarter lengths. His final time for the mile and a sixteenth $150,000 Pegasus was a solid 1:41.72, earning him a 96 Beyer speed figure.
VERRAZANO’s fifth win in six starts has set him up perfectly for the next race on the agenda, the $1 million Haskell Invitational-G1 on July 28, as well as a run for a championship for owners Let’s Go Stable, Michael B. Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith and trainer Todd Pletcher.
Back to the form that garnered multiple Grade 1 wins in 2012, FORT LARNED shot to the front, ran the others off their feet and strolled home the easiest of winners in Churchill Downs’ Stephen Foster H.-G1 on the evening of Saturday, June 16. And he did it in near track record time!
Getting his first win since his incredible score in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Classic-G1 at Santa Anita, Janis R. Whitham’s homebred was dismissed in the field of six sent out for the $500,000 Stephen Foster, going off as the 3.30-1 fourth choice. But when the gates sprung, he proved all doubters wrong as he immediately opened up by daylight, posted fractions of :23.69, :46.96, 1:10.48 and 1:34.53 while never being threatened, and cruised in six and a quarter lengths on top in a final time of 1:47.45, just .17 seconds off the track record for the mile and an eighth set by classic-winning champion Victory Gallop in 1999. Last year’s Travers S.-G1 deadheat winner Golden Ticket was second, with 2012 Stephen Foster winner Ron the Greek another four lengths back in third.
“He ran unbelievable,” said trainer Ian Wilkes. “It was gratifying to get the horse back and to prove that he’s as good as I thought he was and show he wasn’t a one-year wonder.”
Regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr. gave a recount of his trip: “We were going down the backside and were cooking right along and the poles were going by pretty fast, but he was always doing it well within himself so I wasn’t really worried about it. When we turned for home, I pulled the stick through and he switched leads like the Fort Larned of old.” Add a comment Add a comment