WHAT A WEEKEND: EVANS WINS SECOND SARATOGA GRADED STAKES

Edward P. Evans Virginia-bred Malibu 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 $250,000 Ruffian Invitational by 1 ¾ lengths.

The four-year-old mare by Malibu Moon, out of Grand Prayer by Grand Slam, was the 2009 Virginia-bred Champion Three-Year-Old Filly.

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.”

Evans’ Giant Mover, a stakes winner last time out at Colonial Downs, set the pace in Sunday’s $210,000 Taylor Made Matchmaker Stakes Gr.III at Monmouth and wound up fifth beaten less than two lengths.

Evans won the $500,000 Jim Dandy Gr.II on Saturday with A Little Warm and he has top handicap horse Quality Road aimed at Saturday’s $750,000 Whitney Handicap Gr.I.