10/09/2007 11:00PM

River's Prayer knocked out by injury

EmailThe Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint lost a top contender Sunday when River's Prayer sustained a career-ending injury during what was to be a five-furlong workout at Hollywood Park.

"It happened to her in the first quarter-mile of the work, between the three-eighths pole and quarter pole," said Paula Capestro, trainer of River's Prayer. "She clipped her left front ankle and fractured a sesamoid."

River's Prayer might have been the second choice in the wagering for the Filly and Mare Sprint off five victories this year from as many starts, on turf, dirt, and Polytrack. Her big win came in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney at Calder in July. After winning the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo Handicap at Del Mar in mid-August, River's Prayer had no published workouts until a half-mile move at Hollywood on Oct. 1.

"That was the plan," Capestro said. "I wanted to bring her in really fresh. This is a total shock. She never had any issues. This is a bitter disappointment. In my mind, she was the one to beat."

Things went much better during a big workout Monday morning for Dream Rush, the projected favorite for the Filly and Mare Sprint off consecutive Grade 1 wins in the Prioress and Test stakes. Dream Rush worked a bullet five furlongs at Aqueduct in 58.40 seconds. And while only three other horses worked at the distance Monday, Dream Rush's time was more than two full seconds faster than the next-fastest workout.

"We needed to do something serious," said Dream Rush's trainer, Rick Violette Jr. "She hadn't run since the Test. She cooled out great and scoped clean."

Violette said he has no concerns that the workout might have been too fast for Dream Rush's good.

"Not at all," he said. "We still have plenty of time until the race. There were fillies who raced Saturday who were whipping and driving, so she needed to blow. You can baby them and coddle them all you want, but when you are going to run against good horses, you have to be fit."

Violette said he now feels he is ahead of the curve regarding Dream Rush's Breeders' Cup preparations, and that her major work is done.

"She'll have one or two more breezes," he said. "We'll watch the weather, and her appetite. We could easily get away with a half-mile breeze a week before the race."