06/30/2013 11:16AM

Prairie Meadows: Prayer for Relief eyes Governor’s Cup at Remington Park

Jack Coady/Coady Photography
Prayer for Relief will target the Aug. 17 Governor’s Cup at Remington Park after winning Saturday night's Grade 3 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap.

ALTOONA, Iowa – Prayer for Relief's 1 3/4-length triumph in Saturday night's Grade 3, $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap was a long-awaited and well-deserved win. The Steve Asmussen trainee, who hadn't won since he was trained by Bob Baffert in the 2011 Super Derby, carried his good 2013 form into the Cornhusker following a pair of runner-up finishes to stablemate Master Rick.

"It was great to get him in the winner's circle,” Asmussen said. “He has so much back class, and he was given a great ride.”

Aboard Prayer for Relief for the first time while making his initial visit to Prairie Meadows, jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. bided his time in a forward position and got a great response in the stretch from the 5-year-old Jump Start horse to edge clear over a determined Taptowne.

Asmussen said Prayer for Relief came out of the race “in great shape” and will be pointed to the Aug. 17 Governor’s Cup at Remington Park.

Prayer for Relief became the first horse to win both the Iowa Derby (2011) and Cornhusker Handicap.

Also on Saturday night, the Baffert-trained Fiftyshadesofhay, under jockey Martin Garcia, seized command from Grade 1 winner So Many Ways on the far turn and prevailed by 3 1/2 lengths in the Grade 3, $200,000 Iowa Oaks. Seaneen Girl, the other graded stakes winner in the field of 10 fillies, rallied belatedly in the final sixteenth to be the runner-up.

"Fiftyshadesofhay was a nervous filly as a 2-year-old, especially at the gate, but she is so much more mature and professional now," Baffert said. "She wandered around a bit when she made the lead, but I was pleased. One of her owners, Karl Watson, who was too ill to go to Pimlico for her Black-Eyed Susan win, made it out to Iowa to see her, so that was just great.

“She cooled out quickly after the race, is great [Sunday], and we will send her on to Saratoga. I was also real happy to see my old horse, Prayer for Relief, win the Cornhusker."

Saturday night’s Grade 3, $250,000 Iowa Derby had a wide-open look that proved to be well-founded, as the Carl Nafzger-trained longshot Looking Cool ($36.20) prevailed by a neck over the Asmussen-trained Betweenhereandcool.

With a furlong to go and five of the field's seven colts still in contention, jockey Leandro Goncalves coaxed a career-best effort out of Looking Cool, who put an eighth-place finish in Churchill Downs’s June 15 Matt Winn Stakes behind him. The deep-closing Bashaar went past the favorite and pacesetter, Our Double Play, to snatch third.

Looking Cool is based at Churchill Downs.