Prairie Bayou snuck up on the racing world. Of modest parentage, he was gelded as a yearling to help balance his weight, which was heavy up front. Big and gawky at 2, he lost the $50,000 Inner Harbor Stakes at Laurel Park to a $4,000 nag. He hit his stride as a 3-year-old, though his starts were often sluggish and his looks, nondescript. His handlers playfully called him Prairie Dawg.