09/23/2009 12:00AM

Malibu Prayer overpowers foes


ELMONT, N.Y. - Though she certainly benefited from some class relief in Wednesday's $64,750 Cat Chat Stakes at Belmont Park, Malibu Prayer put in a performance worthy of a graded event.

Taking command soon after the start, Malibu Prayer rolled to a 6 3/4-length victory over Devil by Design in the Cat Chat for 3-year-old fillies. She ran one mile in a strong 1:33.90 under John Velazquez. It was the first stakes win of Malibu Prayer's career after finishing second in three consecutive graded stakes to the likes of Rachel Alexandra, Careless Jewel, and Just Jenda.

"That was racehorse time for sure - 1:33 and four. No matter how fast the track is, that's pretty good time," said Todd Pletcher, who trains Malibu Prayer for Ed Evans. "She's been running against some of the best 3-year-old fillies in the country. It's nice to make her a stakes winner to go along with all her Grade 1 and Grade 2 placings."

In a scratched-reduced field of four, Malibu Prayer broke sharply under Velazquez and carved out fractions of 22.68 and 45.41 seconds for the opening half-mile. Devil by Design tried to make a run at Malibu Prayer at the five-sixteenths pole, but when Velazquez asked his filly to run she kicked clear and cruised home. She returned $3 as the favorite.

"She was sharp right from the get-go," Velazquez said. "I broke with a long hold, then I started reaching for her trying to get her to slow down because she was going to go. I was just trying to get her to relax and not let her run too fast the first part. Still, they were running. I got a good hold of her and she was nice, and then when I asked her she was there. Very nice."

Pletcher said Malibu Prayer would likely be pointed to the Grade 1 Gazelle at Aqueduct on Nov. 28.