09/10/2011 5:43PM

Louisiana Downs: Prayer for Relief never looks back in Super Derby

Hodges Photography/Kevin Hodges
Prayer for Relief leads the field on his way to a front-running victory in the Grade 2 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.

BOSSIER CITY, La. – Prayer for Relief has developed into a serious 3-year-old over the past several months. He won his third consecutive derby and fourth straight race Saturday, when he cruised home by 2 1/2 lengths in the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.

With the win, Prayer for Relief, who races for Zayat Stables and is trained by Bob Baffert, remained undefeated at 3 and unbeaten on dirt. He was the 6-5 favorite in the Super Derby, which was the richest race of the meet and the centerpiece of a Saturday program that featured five other stakes. Purses for the races totaled $1 million, making the card the biggest of the Louisiana Downs season that closes Sept. 25.

Prayer for Relief ($4.40) broke on top in the Super Derby and proceeded to lead the field through an opening quarter in 24.48 seconds and the first half-mile in 50.31. Trubs chased in second, about a length behind Prayer for Relief, with Mr Woodrow in third, followed by Meistersinger. 

“Today, I thought [Meistersinger] would be on the lead, but after the break you never know,” winning rider Rafael Bejarano said. “I was supposed to be the second speed, and [Trubs] the third speed.”

But when Meistersinger did not join the pace fray from his rail post, Prayer for Relief and Bejarano seized the position and controlled the tempo, remaining in command through six furlongs in 1:15.49. Awesome Bet and Populist Politics made a run at the leader with about a furlong to go, but Prayer for Relief turned those rivals back and went on to cover the 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:52.29.

“He did it easily,” Bejarano said.

Awesome Bet edged Populist Politics by a nose for second, while it was another 1 1/2 lengths back in fourth to Alternation.

Prayer for Relief began his win streak in May, when he won a first-level allowance at Hollywood Park in his first start at 3. He proceeded to win the Grade 3 Iowa Derby in June and the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby in August. The success is a long way from the $50,000 maiden claiming race that Prayer for Relief won last year at 2.

“He has really blossomed over the past four months,” said Jimmy Barnes, assistant to Baffert, who was traveling Saturday. “Last year, he wasn’t showing what we wanted to see, so we had to run him where he was competitive, where he could win.” 

But this year has been a different story for Prayer for Relief, who picked up $300,000 for his win in the Super Derby. He has now won 5 of 8 starts and $965,500. Barnes said next-race plans for Prayer for Relief would be decided by Zayat Stables and Baffert.

The remaining order of finish in the Super Derby was Mr. Woodrow in fifth, followed by Malibu Glow, Trubs, Meistersinger, and G.W.’s d’Oro.

* Handle on the 13-race card from all sources was $4,529,638, with $642,664 of that bet on track Saturday. Attendance figures are not available, because admission is free at Louisiana Downs.