06/29/2013 10:32PM

Prairie Meadows: Prayer for Relief wins Cornhusker as favorite

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Jack Coady/Coady Photography
Prayer for Relief's win Saturday night in the Grade 3 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap was his first since 2011.

Confidently handled by Ricardo Santana Jr., Prayer for Relief stalked a modest pace in Saturday night’s Grade 3, $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap and powered past Taptowne in the stretch to win by 1 3/4 lengths.

Although Prayer for Relief had raced close to the pace in two starts this year, running second in both the Texas Mile and Lone Star Handicap, Santana employed different tactics aboard Prayer for Relief in the Cornhusker. He kept his mount under a firm hold, reserving him in fourth in a tightly packed field after a half-mile in 48.33 seconds and three-quarters in 1:12.62.

It was then that the field began to separate, first with Taptowne, who had chased the pace in second, taking the lead from Silver Max but ultimately proving unable to withstand the stretch kick of Prayer for Relief.

“I knew I had a lot of horse,” Santana said. “I tried to wait.”

Silver Max finished seven lengths behind the winner in third, holding that position almost by default, with few others doing much stretch running.

The victory for the 5-year-old Prayer for Relief was his first since the summer of his 3-year-old season, when he rattled off four straight victories, including scores in the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows, the West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer, and the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.

A son of Jump Start owned by Zayat Stables and trained by Steve Asmussen, he raced 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:49.96. The favorite, he paid $3.80.