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ATTA BOY ROY GOES FOR GLORY SATURDAY IN BREEDERS’ CUP SPRINT AT CHURCHILL DOWNS
Washington-bred Atta Boy Roy is listed at 12-1 on the morning line, but trainer Valorie Lund is confident the 5-year-old speedster will fire a big shot Saturday in the $2-million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs.
Atta Boy Roy and three-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel will break from post 11 in the six-furlong Sprint, contested over the same strip on which the 5-year-old ridgling pulled off a 10-1 upset in the Grade II Churchill Downs Handicap last spring.
Atta Boy Roy's connection to the Plateau starts in Buckley at Blue Ribbon Farms with breeders Rick and Debbie Pabst and Patricia J. Murphy. His sire was Tribunal, who was standing at El Dorado Farms in Enumclaw.
"I don't want this to come out the wrong way, but I really don't think there is a horse in the country faster than Roy,” Lund said. “I would have rather seen him draw the four or five-hole, but he should do just fine with the 11-hole. He has Warrior's Reward and Riley Tucker on each side of him, and it helps that they both don't have a ton of speed. He just needs to break clean and drop over.
“He loves this surface at Churchill. He doesn't care if it's wet or dry.”
Girolamo, at odds of 3-1, is the morning line favorite while Big Drama is the second choice at 7-2. 2008 WTBOA Sale Graduate Smiling Tiger is the 6-1 third choice and will be ridden by Russell Baze.
The Breeders’ Cup Sprint is Race 5 with post time 11:30 a.m. (pacific). It’s the second of Saturday’s eight Breeders’ Cup events culminating with Zenyatta’s title defense in the $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic at 3:45 p.m.
Voted Emerald Downs’ Top Sprinter in 2009, Atta Boy Roy has raced at five different tracks in 2010 while compiling a 3-2-0 record in six starts with earnings of $345,371 for Roy Schaefer of Port Orchard.
Although Atta Boy Roy’s final pre-Breeders’ Cup drill—4 furlongs in :48 1/5 last Saturday—was panned by TVG experts on “The Works,” Lund said she was pleased with the move.
“I told Calvin not to work him fast because I want to keep him sharp for the race,” Lund said. “I asked him to work him in 12-second furlongs and that's exactly what he did. We want this horse coming out of his skin this weekend. We had the rest of the year to train him harder.”
By Tribunal-Irish Toast, Atta Boy Roy has an overall mark of 10-6-0 in 22 starts and earnings of $479,696. His 2009 Emerald Downs campaign included a track and state record 1:07 for six furlongs, and he also set the fastest fractions (:21 4/5, :44, 1:07 3/5, 1:20 1/5) in Longacres Mile history while finishing fifth to Assessment.
Regardless of what happens Saturday, Lund said Atta Boy Roy would be given the winter off before gearing up for his campaign as a 6-year-old in 2011. “I’d still like to see him win the (Longacres) Mile,” she added.
For now, though, Lund and Roy and Ellie Schaefer are enjoying the Breeders’ Cup and all of its surrounding hoopla and contemplating the exciting journey that Atta Boy Roy has provided.
"He has a huge fan club,” Lund said of Atta Boy Roy. “He has a lot of people on his side. It's very gratifying to know how much support we have. He’s such a wonderful horse.”
The field for the $2-million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint: 1-Big Drama, Eibar Coa, 126 lbs; 7-2; 2-Girolamo, Alan Garcia, 126, 3-1; 3-Wise Dan, Rafael Bejarano, 124, 10-1; 4-Hamazing Destiny, Joel Rosario, 126, 20-1; 5-Smiling Tiger, Russell Baze, 124, 6-1; 6-1; 6-Pashito the Che, Javier Castellano, 126, 15-1; 7-Kinsale King, Martin Garcia, 126, 8-1; 8-Cash Refund, John Velazquez, 126, 20-1; 9-Supreme Summit, Garrett Gomez, 126, 15-1; 10-Riley Tucker, Ramon Dominguez, 126, 8-1; 11-Atta Boy Roy, Calvin Borel, 126, 12-1; 12-Warrior’s Reward, Julien Leparoux, 126, 12-1.
Gates open for the Breeders’ Cup simulcast at Emerald Downs at 9a.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Friday’s Breeders’ Cup races also will be shown on ESPN2, while Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup events will be split between ABC and ESPN.
Other Breeders’ Cup horses with local connections:
· Blind Luck, the 9-5 morning line favorite in the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (4:30 p.m. Friday) who is co-owned by Mark Dedomenico of Redmond. The 3-year-old Pollard’s Vision filly has won three Grade I races this year including the Kentucky Oaks.
· Awesome Gem, runner-up to Assessment in the 2009 Longacres Mile, is the 7-2 morning line favorite in the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon (1:10 p.m. Friday).
· Wilcox Inn, owned by Emerald Downs Vice President Jack Hodge, competes in the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (10:50 a.m. Saturday). The Harlan’s Holiday colt finished third in the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last month.
· A 3-year-old Hold That Tiger colt bred by Dr. Rodney Orr, Smiling Tiger has already won two Grade I events this year—Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar and the Ancient Title Handicap at Oak Tree at Hollywood Park. He was purchased for $40,000 by Californians Alan Klein and Philip Lebherz at 2008 WTBOA Sale.
ATTA BOY ROY 6TH WASHINGON-BRED TO START IN BREEDERS’ CUP
Atta Boy Roy would become the first Washington-bred to win a Breeders’ Cup event, and is only the sixth Washington-bred to compete in a Breeders’ Cup race.
Emerald Downs-based horse to compete in the Breeders’ Cup were Smarty Deb, who finished fifth in the 2007 BC Juvenile Fillies at Monmouth Park, and Gallant Son, seventh in the 2008 BC Juvenile at Santa Anita. However, both Smarty Deb and Gallant Son were bred in Kentucky.
Washington-breds in the Breeders’ Cup:
Got You Runnin....1984 Juvenile Fillies....11th...G. Stevens...R. McMeans
Firesweeper..........1985 Juvenile Fillies....dnf....W. Shoemaker....R. McMeans
Tortellini Roma.....1987 Juvenile Fillies....9th C. Hoverson....J. Penney
Maharesred......... 1988 Juvenile....10th A. Solis M.L. Smith Joyce Bell
La Tee............... 2008 Filly/Mare Sprint... 10th J. Court M. Glatt A. & S. Branch
Atta Boy Roy .......2010 Sprint.... —......C. Borel.....V. Lund.....R.E.V. Racing