08/02/2006 11:00PM

Peg's Prayer a Spa winner


Trainer Dave Donk targeted the $150,000 for Peg's Prayer immediately after she won her maiden so impressively over the Belmont turf three months ago. He never wavered from that plan even after Peg's Prayer turned in a couple of disappointing efforts as the beaten favorite against first-level allowance competition while awaiting her main goal.

Donk was rewarded for his patience on Thursday at Saratoga after Peg's Prayer finished quickly down the middle of the course under jockey John Velazquez to register a neck decision over 58-1 outsider Follow My Dream in the 1 1/8-mile Statue of Liberty.

As is her style, Peg's Prayer, a 3-year-old daughter of Rodeo, raced near the rear of the pack for the opening seven furlongs of the Statue of Liberty. Velazquez angled her toward the outside to secure racing room entering the stretch, and Peg's Prayer came on strong to run down the tiring leaders before withstanding a final surge from Follow My Dream. Baby Gray, a 20-1 outsider, finished third followed by the 2-1 favorite, Artistic Express.

Peg's Prayer covered the distance in 1:49.57 over the firm course and returned $14.80. The superfecta combination of 7-1-12-10 paid $105,505.

"I just chalked her last race up to experience and a slow pace," said Donk, who trains Peg's Prayer for owners Michael and Lyn Shanley. "Today she broke a little better, got in a better spot and the pace helped. Distance also wasn't an issue for her, where it might have been for some of the others in the race."