|Champ Run and Pray Wins Red River
Handicap at Lone Star Park
(Friday, October 14, 2005)
- The champ is back. Run and Pray, the American Quarter Horse Association's
World Champion Distance Horse of 2004, made his first to the winner's
circle in almost a year with a 1 ¼-length triumph over Overlook
Easy in Friday's $17,500 Red River Handicap at Lone Star Park in
Grand Prairie, Texas.
The 6-year-old gelding, owned by Bobby Cox of Fort Worth, ran 870
yards in :44.73 under jockey Larry Payne. He paid $5.60 to win as
the slight 9-5 favorite in a field that was reduced to four after
four late scratches. Kaydena rallied past Zachs Hero for third.
Overlook Easy, the 9-5 second choice, broke on top from the rail
with Run and Pray just a head behind to the outside. "I never
felt like I was pressuring him," Payne said. "My horse
was just sharp and cruising. When I asked him to run at the head
of the stretch, he just went on. I really expected Overlook Easy
to kick on a little stronger down the stretch because two or three
different people told me that he was a real good closer. But I just
had way too much horse tonight."
Trainer John Buchanan said the temperature - in the low 70s - was
one of the main reasons for Run and Pray's strong effort.
"He just doesn't run well in the heat," Buchanan said.
"He ran the kind of race he can run with this great weather
tonight. He's sound old horse that just doesn't like the heat. When
it cools off, he's a completely different horse. When he was close
to [Overlook Easy] early on, I knew he'd put in a strong race."
This was the second straight Red River Handicap victory for Run
and Pray. He won the race in 2003, the last year it was run.
Prior to Friday's victory, Run and Pray was winless in five starts
since clinching 2004 championship honors with a victory in the Grade
1, $100,000 MD Barns Challenge Championship at Sam Houston Race
Park. Overall, the Texas-bred has won eight races and $242,506 in
36 career starts.
Buchanan and Cox plan to race Run and Pray next on Nov. 19 in the
Grade 3, $20,000 Lone Star Park Distance Championship. No horse
has ever won both distance races at Lone Star. Run and Pray came
the closest in 2003 when he won the Red River and finished second
in the Distance Championship.