Sent off as the 2-1 second choice in the field of nine, Silent Prayer jumped out to the early lead from the inside post under jockey Jesus Rios, and the bay filly would never look back. After being pressured throughout by 8-5 favorite Chessen, setting fractions of 23.32 seconds for the first quarter and 46.91 seconds for the half, Silent Prayer had plenty left in the tank to turn away Chessen at the top of the stretch before safely holding off stretch-running challenges from Nasha Nadezhda and Star Mily. The final time of the race was 53.43 seconds.
“You’ve got to have luck, and you’ve got to be fit to do it, and then the rest is up to the rider and the horse,” winning trainer Stanley Gold said. “It worked out good.”
“I was worried I’d be disappointed,” he added, “because she’d done everything good. At first, I had no aspirations about her other than to see what goes on, but she kept beating what I’d been breezing, and I’m saying, ‘She can run!’ She didn’t disappoint, and that’s what you like to see. They run like they train, and they stay consistent. But you know how it changes with the babies, so let’s just take this, enjoy it, see where we go from here, and go on to the next.”
With the victory, Silent Prayer gave sire Brooks ‘n Down a win with his first ever starter. The stakes-placed runner entered stud in 2011 for Jacks or Better and is a half-sibling to Awesome Feather, the 2010 Eclipse Champion 2-year-old Filly.
“I’m thinking about [Brooks ‘n Down], because I had him as a 2-year-old, and he got hurt really early in his career, and he had a lot of ability,” Gold said. “We’ll see where [Silent Prayer] goes, but it’s good for Brooks ‘n Down, because it’s his first.”
The ultimate goal for Silent Prayer would be to contest the $2 million Florida Sire Stakes, the focal point of the 2-year-old program at Gulfstream. The Florida Sire Stakes, a series of six stakes for 2-year-olds sired by nominated Florida stallions, was held at Gulfstream for the first time last year with purses totaling $1.4 million, but the total purse will be $2 million in 2015. Silent Prayer is a half-sibling to Sing Praises, who captured two of the three legs of last year’s open division of the Florida Sire Stakes.
The Florida Sire Stakes will kick off Saturday, Aug. 8 with the six-furlong $200,000 Dr. Fager (open) and $200,000 Desert Vixen (fillies). The $300,000 Affirmed (open) and $300,000 Susan's Girl (fillies) will be contested at seven furlongs Saturday, Sept. 5 while the 1 1/16-mile finals - the $500,000 In Reality (open) and $500,000 My Dear Girl - will be run Saturday, Oct. 3.
"It's great to see the 2-year-old season has started at Gulfstream Park," said Gulfstream's General Manager and The Stronach Group's Vice President of Racing P.J. Campo. "This is an exciting time of year for breeders, owners, trainers and fans. It's particularly exciting this year because we believe this is the strongest juvenile program in Florida for many years. With the Florida Sire Stakes revitalized last year - and with total purses in those races increasing from $1.4 million to $2 million - we're anticipating an exciting summer for our 2-year-olds."
Silent Prayer paid $6.60 to win, while Nasha Nadezhda returned $7.40 to place and Star Mily’s show returned $13.20. Chessen finished fourth, followed by Miss Stardust, Esken Lady, Alcaldesa, and Dagney’s Revenge.