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Atta Boy Roy returns Saturday, carries 124 pounds at Turf Paradise | Emerald Downs

Atta Boy Roy running six furlongs in 1:07 2/5 at Emerald Downs on June 6, 2009. - Photo courtesy of Emerald Downs
Atta Boy Roy running six furlongs in 1:07 2/5 at Emerald Downs on June 6, 2009.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Emerald Downs

Atta Boy Roy can add another milestone to his illustrious career Saturday when the 6-year-old Washington-bred carries high weight of 124 pounds in the $35,000 Hank Mills Sr. Handicap at Turf Paradise.

A victory in the one-mile race on dirt would be worth $21,000 to owner Roy Schaefer and trainer Valorie Lund, and push Atta Boy Roy past the $600,000 mark in career earnings. Saratoga Passage ($800,212), Military Hawk ($686,128), Peterhof's Patea ($623,367) and Rings a Chime ($606,315) are the only Washington-breds to have achieved that feat.

Saturday's race goes as the fifth on a nine-race card with post time 1:21 p.m. Pacific. It will be an especially hectic afternoon for Lund, whose younger sister Kristin is getting married Saturday in the Phoenix area, approximately 90 minutes after Atta Boy Roy's race. What's more, the trainer said she is responsible for cooking food for between 180 and 200 guests.

"I could do this when I was 21, but it's a little tougher for me now," Lund joked.

Voted Emerald Downs' Top Sprinter in 2009, Atta Boy Roy is 13-for-30 with earnings of $579,580, and comes off a nose victory in a $53,900, one-mile allowance race at Santa Anita on Oct. 21. It was his first route win in four attempts; including a fifth in the 2009 Longacres Mile in which he set the fastest internal fractions in the 76-year history of the race.

Atta Boy Roy has reeled off five straight bullet drills since the Santa Anita race, capped by a six furlongs in 1:12 2/5 last Sunday, but Lund said the ridgling is relaxing better in his workouts. She hopes it's a sign of transformation from confirmed sprinter to middle-distance runner, and if that's the case there are many more options out there around two turns than one.

"We'll see how things go," she said. "It would help his value as a stallion if he wins a route."

Atta Boy Roy is 4-3-0 in eight career starts at Turf Paradise, but has never won a stakes at the Phoenix track, finishing second in the 2008 Luke Kruytbosch and sixth in the 2009 G Malleah.

Several accomplished runners will face Atta Boy Roy in the Mills. Forest Mouse, for example, is 7-for-18, and Hezamazing (10-32), Rule by Force (13-36) and Mr. Shadar (10-31) also are proven winners. And the 7-year-old gelding Pickapocket has amassed nearly $500,000 in earnings and is a multiple stakes winner at Calder in Florida. Based on Beyer Speed Figures, however, Atta Boy Roy towers over the field, and the only pace rival appear to be All Saint, a triple stakes winner last winter at Turf Paradise.

Glenn Corbett, the second leading rider with 40 wins at the current meet, will have the mount on Atta Boy Roy. Daniel Vergara, who was up for the Santa Anita win, will ride Pickapocket for leading trainer Robertino Diodoro on Saturday.

The field from the rail out: Forest Mouse, Jake Barton, 119; Hezamazing, Michael Ziegler, 119; Rule by Force, Jorge Carreno, 119; Mr. Shadar, Richard Hamel, 118; Atta Boy Roy, Glen Corbett, 124; All Saint, Michael Iammarino, 122; Pickapocket, Daniel Vergara, 117.

ALSO: On Saturday, Dec. 10, Mike and Amy Feuerborn's El Gran Bebe won his third race in 30 days at Golden Gate Fields*all gate-to-wire on the turf, all by 1-¼ lengths*under jockey Kevin Krigger for trainer Jim Penney. A Feuerborn homebred by Friends Lake out of 2004 Emerald Downs' Top 3-Year-Old Filly Bianconi Baby, El Gran Bebe also won on Nov. 10 and Dec. 1, and has racked up $40,460 in purses in less than a month. El Gran Bebe, incidentally is a great example of how hot horses moving up in class can return handsome payoffs for bettors. After finishing 10th in his turf debut Oct. 22, El Gran Bebe was lowered to a career-low $12,500 for the Nov. 10 race and produced a $35.40 payout as the longest shot on the board. Bumped up to $25,000 claiming for the Dec. 1 race, El Gran Bebe paid $17.20 as the second longest price in the field. And finally, even though he had two wins in three weeks over the same course, El Gran Bebe was moved up to allowance company by Penney, and still paid $14.20 while defeating the Tim McCanna-trained Ivanho... Congratulations to owner Michael Pollowitz for an unusual sweep in last week's final leg of the $26,900 McFadden Memorial Sprint Claiming Series at Portland Meadows. Pollowitz–father of Emerald Downs' turf writer Jacob Pollowitz–won a tidy $15,333 for finishing first and second with geldings he claimed in their previous starts for $4,000 apiece, including an 11-year-old with 101 career starts. Colonel Courtney, the aforementioned 11-year-old, won going away by 1-½ lengths under Juan Gutierrez in 1:12 for six furlongs. It was the 25th victory in a career that began on July 20, 2002 at Ellis Park. Inhoc Signo Vinces rallied to finish second under Rocco Bowen, and an exacta combination on the 5.80-to-1 winner and 23.60-to-1 runner-up paid $163.90 for $1. Guru Darma Khalsa trained the Pollowitz runners, and track announcer Jason Beem was in the winner's circle to interview the winning connections. Downplaying his success, Pollowitz said, "Even the blind squirrel sometimes finds an acorn."

NOTES: 2010 Emerald Derby winner Saratoga Boot (pictured below) snapped a 10-race losing streak as the 7-to-10 betting favorite in a $15,700 allowance race Dec. 10 at Turf Paradise. Transferred to Mike Chambers, the 6-year-old Storm Boot gelding was ridden by Anne Von Rosen and ran one mile in 1:37 2/5. Jockey Joe Steiner rode the 3-year-old maiden filly Little Emily to a $61.40 surprise vs. winners Dec. 7 at Hollywood Park. Robert W. Leonard is the trainer, and of course Steiner and Leonard enjoyed spectacular success together with the great Washington-bred Saratoga Passage in the late 1980s... Owners Sue and Tim Spooner, third all-time in Emerald Downs' wins with 139, have a sharp sophomore at Golden Gate Fields named Chasin Perfection, a 3-year-old Borrego filly who made it two wins in three starts for trainer Dan Markle with a gate-to-wire score under Krigger in an $18,000 starter allowance on the turf Dec. 8... Speaking of Krigger, the 2005 Emerald Downs riding champion is enjoying an outstanding meeting at Golden Gate with 40 wins in 179 mounts for a 22.34 win percentage and a $2.86 ROI. Only Russell Baze (47 wins) has won more races at the Golden Gate meet that concludes Sunday, Dec. 18. Krigger plans to begin riding at Santa Anita on opening day, Monday, Dec. 26, and will be represented by jockeys' agent Tom Knust. Knust had been booking mounts for jockey Pat Valenzuela, who announced his retirement last week... McCanna was in seventh place in the Golden Gate trainers' standings with a seven-for-49 mark, and struck with first-time starter Quinnette ($21.60) in a $32,000 maiden claimer for 2-year-old fillies Dec. 1... He's a Goblin ($3.60) romped by 2-¾ lengths in the $10,000 Lethal Grande Sprint Championship Stakes on Oregon Breeders Champion Day at Portland Meadows. The 4-year-old He's Tops gelding has finished either first or third in 16 of 17 career starts (17-7-0-9). The stakes is named after the 2007 Oregon Horse of the Year who coincidentally was owned by Michael Pollowitz... Other winners on Oregon Breeders Champions Day: $10,000 Oregon Hers (3-year-old fillies);Missisissy ($42.80); $15,000 Bill Wineberg Stakes (2-year-old colts & geldings); L G Jet ($2.60); $15,000 Janet Wineberg Stakes (2-year-old fillies); Forty Something ($3.60); $10,000 Oregon His (3-year-old colts & geldings); Hvr West Cascadian ($61.80)... Jockey Inoel Beato, eighth with 45 wins at EmD in 2010, rallied the Giant's Causeway colt Russian Greek ($16.60) from last place for a neck victory in the $75,000 Gold Rush Stakes for 2-year-olds Dec. 10 at Golden Gate. Jerry Hollendorfer is the trainer... Cody Axmaker, son of long-time Emerald Downs' trainer Peter Axmaker, is faring well at Turf Paradise with a 5-3-3 mark in 30 starts...Anne Sweet of the WTBOA has produced an exceptional 2012 monthly calendar featuring some of the finest works of Duane Hamamura, a great friend of horse racing and Emerald Downs who passed away last January. The calendar is for sale at the WTBOA office and The Gift Horse at Emerald Downs.

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