Malibu Prayer collected her first
Grade 1 victory and earned a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic Sunday
afternoon at Saratoga Race Course, turning back a challenge from Unrivaled
Belle to win the 35th running of the Ruffian Invitational by 1 ¾
After bumping with favored
Unrivaled Belle, who stumbled at the start, Malibu Prayer got away first and
maintained the lead to the wire, outfinishing that rival in the final yards.
Her final time for the 1 1/8th
miles was 1:48.14 over a fast track.
“I figured I would let her break
and do it nice and easy, whatever she was comfortable with,” said winning
jockey John Velazquez. “When I asked her at the quarter pole, she responded
very well. She did it very easily.”
Although she could not catch the
pacesetter, Unrivaled Belle finished 9 ¾ lengths clear of Classofsixtythree,
who was a neck in front of Starship Angel for show honors.
“She took a pretty good shot at
the start,” said Unrivaled Belle’s Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. “It was
decent enough where she had to recover from it. We might have been a
half-length closer to [Malibu Prayer] going into the turn instead of having
daylight in between us. We might have been able to put a little pressure on her
earlier than we did.”
Malibu Prayer, bred in Virginia by owner Edward
P. Evans, returned $6.70 as the second choice in the field of six. The
4-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon increased her own earnings to $558,026 and
ran her record to 6-3-2 from 12 lifetime starts.
“She ran a great race,” said
Tristan Barry, assistant to winning trainer Todd Pletcher. “When Unrivaled
Belle stumbled at the start, that gave us a bit of an upper hand. She was able
to get into a rhythm and just took it from there.”
Tasty Temptation and Zaphyra
completed the order of finish.
Previously run during the Fall
Championship Meet at Belmont
Park, the “Win and You’re
In” Ruffian was moved to the just-expanded 40 day calendar at Saratoga Race
Course for 2010.