virginia derby

Prayer for Relief Has Been Retired

Prayer for Relief, multiple graded stakes winner and multimillionaire, has been retired from racing sound and will begin his stud career at Pleasant Acres Farm in Florida. 

The dark bay son of Jump Start out of Sparkin Lil (by Mr. Sparkles) won the Gr.II West Virginia Derby, Gr.II Super Derby, and Gr.III Iowa Derby as a sophomore, and won the Gr.III Cornhusker Handicap and Tenacious Handicap in his later career. A warrior horse, he won or placed in several graded stakes in 8 of his 9 years of racing. Prayer for Relief was also a seasoned traveler, having raced at Del Mar, Hollywood Park, Louisiana Downs, Santa Anita, Oak Tree, Prairie Meadows, Lone Star Park, Mountaineer, Remington Park, Churchill Downs, Arlington Park, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn, Pimlico, Belmont Park, Saratoga, Gulfstream Park, Keeneland, and finally, Meydan Racecourse in Dubai. 

Prayer for Relief was a competitor in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic, as well as a competitor in the inaugural Pegasus World Cup. 

He retires with a lifetime record of 46: 8-6-10 with earnings of $2,277,948.

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Probably the weekend’s most interesting race is the Virginia Derby (II), which pits the hot winning streak of Silver Max against some seriously good challengers including Summer Front, fellow Clement trainee and likely underrated Easy Crossing, Optimizer (who is a grass horse at heart!), and the wonderful Lucky Chappy [IRE] is back after his Dubai trip.

Handicapping: Virginia Derby (II)

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Two nice turf events as well as the newest Havre de Grace/Blind Luck matchup commence this weekend, with one of the keenest handicapping opportunities being the Virginia Derby (II) at Colonial Downs. The race has been making champions out of its winners in recent years, so it’s all the more important to keep an eye out for who comes under the wire first. Here’s the field:

$600,000 Virginia Derby (II) - For 3-Year-Olds Only. 1 ¼ miles on turf at Colonial Downs, VA. Post Time: 8:05 EST.

(Post Position, Horse, Jockey, Weight Impost, Trainer. Favorites in Bold)

1. Callingahardten - Kent Desormeaux, 117 lbs, Garry W. Simms
2. Air Support - Alex Solis, 123 lbs,  Shug McGaughey
3. Newsdad - Alan Garcia, 117 lbs, Bill Mott
4. Street Game - Edgar Prado, 119 lbs, Phil Serpe
5. Casino Host - Christopher DeCarlo, 117 lbs, Chad Brown
6. Thirtyfirststreet - Chris Landeros   117 lbs, Doug O’Neill
7. Banned - Jose Lezcano, 123 lbs,  Tom Proctor
8. Crimson China - Julien Leparoux, 119 lbs, Graham Motion
9. The Waco Kid - Wilmer Galviz, 117 lbs, Kathleen O’Connell
10. King Congie - Johnny Velazquez, 117 lbs, Tom Albertrani [pictured]
11. Benergy - Corey Nakatani, 117 lbs,  Dale Romans
12. Watch Me Go -  Luis Garcia, 117 lbs, Kathleen O'Connell

Banned is the hands-down favorite here and deservedly so after a string of success in six turf starts this year. Also to watch is King Congie [pictured], who has won all three turf starts this year. Air Support has fought gamely in six consecutive turf starts. Crimson China is underpracticed but talented, having won 2-for-2 on the surface. New to the surface is Mott trainee Newsdad who is a nice colt and Derby entry Watch Me Go

My picks: Street Game - Banned - King Congie

I’m not as familiar with turf handicapping as I am with others, but here’s a go: Not as well known as Banned, but certainly very talented with one of the most patient jockeys in the irons is Street Game. He’s been on the board in all 5 of his starts, with victories stretching as far as nearly 8 lengths in stakes company. I think he’ll pull up a good upset on Banned in this race. King Congie’s been an underrated horse the whole year, but I see him finishing up front here.