08/29/2012 4:39PM

Arlington Park notes: Prayer for Relief looks to end skid in Washington Park Handicap

Shigeki Kikkawa
Prayer for Relief will try to end a nine-race losing streak in Saturday's Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Prayer for Relief, the one-horse traveling show, will add another racetrack to the long list of venues at which he has run when he starts Saturday in the Washington Park Handicap at Arlington.

The 4-year-old colt has made 17 career starts while racing at eight different venues from West Coast to East. His most notable run came during the middle of 2011, when he won an allowance race at Hollywood Park followed by tallies in the Iowa Derby, the West Virginia Derby, and the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. Prayer for Relief closed his 3-year-old campaign with a third in the Oklahoma Derby and a dud while facing older horses for the first time in the Clark Handicap, where he checked in ninth.

What Prayer for Relief has not done lately is win: His last victory came Sept. 10 in the Super Derby, and Prayer for Relief, a Zayat Stables-owned Jump Start colt who has raced once since being transferred from trainer Bob Baffert to Steve Asmussen, brings a nine-race losing streak with him to Chicago. Still, his most recent performance, a nose loss to Alternation in the $200,000 Governor’s Cup at Remington, probably makes him the Washington Park favorite.

Prayer for Relief drew post 6 in a seven-horse field entered Wednesday for the Grade 3, $150,000 Washington Park, the only main-track race for older horses of any significance during the Arlington meet. Also in the field, from the rail out, are Ballyjamesduff, Middie, Workin for Hops, Mister Marti Gras, Hattash, and – outside Prayer for Relief – Pool Play.

Mister Marti Gras is the defending Washington Park champ, having beaten Workin for Hops by a neck in last year’s race. Workin for Hops, meanwhile, is looking to bounce back from a last-place finish in the July 14 Stars and Stripes Handicap, a 1 1/2-mile race that turned out to be much farther than Workin for Hops, a middle-distance type, prefers to run.

“That last race is a throwout,” trainer Mike Stidham said. “He just can’t go that far.”

Willcox Inn will cut back in next

Stidham, meanwhile, has laid down no definite plans for his pair of also-rans in Arlington Million Day races. What is certain, however, is that Willcox Inn, who finished eighth of 11 while beaten just five lengths in the Million, will be kept to distances shorter than the Million’s 1 1/4 miles.

“There’s nothing definite for him, but we are going to shorten him up,” Stidham said.

Willcox Inn, a sharp July 22 allowance-race winner in his first start of 2012, will be nominated to the Grade 1 Shadwell Mile at Keeneland. Whether he starts before then hasn’t been decided, but his connections are in no hurry to swing back into action.

“We kind of rushed him back to run in the Million, but he did come out of the race in great shape,” Stidham said.

Upperline, who finished a close fifth in the Beverly D., will continue seeking a Grade 1 placing before she’s retired for the 2013 breeding season. Stidham said Upperline will be considered for the Spinster Stakes at Keeneland and the Rodeo Drive (formerly the Yellow Ribbon) at Santa Anita.