“I’m either game or crazy or maybe both,” laughed Roy Dobbins, owner and breeder of Prayer I Am, of the $30,000 check he wrote to supplement Prayer I Am to the World Trotting Derby. “But I wrote the check out of his account, so I’m putting his money ($327,174 in career earnings) back on him.\"
Dobbins, who owns a grocery store in Bryant, Ala., and carpet stores in both Georgia and Tennessee, has 28 broodmares on about 300 acres and bred and raised Prayer I Am and also gave him his first training lessons before sending him to current trainer Kevin Thomas. Prayer I Am has won three of his last four starts and won both the 2006 and 2007 American-National Stakes at Balmoral Park. He took a record of 1:53 in a qualifier at the Meadowlands on July 12.
Dobbins and his brother were introduced to Standardbreds through a family friend, the late John Cobin from Tennessee.
“My brother likes the pacers, but I like the trotters. The competition is less for the trotters. If you’ve got a pacer, there’s about 10,000 horses you have to beat; if you’ve got a trotter, there’s about 1,000 horses you have to beat, so I went with the odds. Plus, I like to fool around with them myself. I have a half-mile track at the farm and we break them and train them and get them ready to qualify.
“When we trained him (as a young horse) he just showed a world of talent. Kevin got him at the tail end of the year, only had him about a month or six weeks when he won the American National (in early November).”
Prayer I Am was back at Dobbins’ farm in northeast Alabama after his 2-year-old season, which he closed out by winning two of his last three starts and nearly $200,000 in purses.
“We brought him home for about three months and he stayed until early spring. We just turned him out, didn’t work him at all, gave him time to mend.”
Dobbins usually travels to Prayer I Am’s races with a cheering section and this race is no exception. “Oh yes, there will be about eight of us all together,” he laughed. “It’s only about a five-hour drive there from Alabama.”
Prayer I Am’s trainer, Kevin Thomas, who bases his stable at Lexington, Ky.’s The Red Mile is optimistic about his horse’s chance in the Trotting Derby.
“He has a lot of \'go\' in him. That (qualifying) mile at the Meadowlands in 1:53 was on a hot morning and he was well within himself, under wraps. If Donato (favorite Donato Hanover) is going to try to go sub 1:50, we’ll try to tag along with him and we’ll hope something goes our way.\" (HRC)