Atlanta exits Lexington a winner

Last year’s most celebrated horses — Test Of Faith and Jujubee — also record Allerage triumphs.

extra quotes by James Platz / story by Ray Cotolo for Red Mile

World champion trotting mare Atlanta graced the Red Mile winner’s circle for the last time in her career as she scored a 1:50.3 victory in the $57,000 Helpisontheway Allerage Farms fillies and mares trot, a race part of her send-off tour, on Sunday afternoon (Oct. 9).

Driver Yannick Gingras pushed for the pocket with Atlanta from the pylon post while a revved Next Level Stuff clocked a :27.2 first quarter and :54.2 half. As the backfield began angling outwards to three-quarters in 1:22.1, Gingras pulled off the pegs and slid to the lead off the corner. When Dovescry closed down the center and settled for second, beaten a length, with Sorella sweeping home for third and Next Level Stuff fading to fourth.

“It’s special,” Gingras said after the race on winning in one of Atlanta’s last starts. “All these wins [are] just one more trophy on her mantle. She’s a great mare; she’s one of the greatest in this industry and it’s been a pleasure to drive her.”

The win counts as No. 37 in the storied career of Atlanta, a 7-year-old mare by Chapter Seven. Competing for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant and Howard Taylor, the mare added to her account now worth $3,440,719 as she approaches the last few starts of her racing career. Ron Burke trains the mare who paid $4.96 to win.

Test Of Faith flexed her class with a 1:50.1 stroll in the $73,000 Arlene Siegel Memorial Allerage Farms fillies and mares pace.

No Win No Feed A circled to lead Gia’s Surreal after a :27.3 first quarter and coasted up the backside as driver David Miller motored Test Of Faith from fourth to the fore approaching a :55 half. She travelled around the far turn and into the stretch as she pleased, clicking three-quarters in 1:23.2 to then sprint home under wraps and cap the mile in 1:50.1. No Win No Feed A gave pursuit from the pocket in second, beaten 1-1/2 lengths, with Gia’s Surreal third and Watch Me Now N fourth.

“She’s just an ultra-durable, consistent, horse that loves to win,” Miller told HRU’s James Platz. “We’re planning on racing her another year and she’s already got a mark of :47 flat. It was a short field and I took advantage of an easy spot to go an easy mile.

“She’s very special and ranks with every great horse that I’ve ever sat behind. She’s just an amazing animal.”

“She loves this track,” said Ken Jackson, co-owner of Test Of Faith through Kentuckiana Racing, after the race. “She’s had some incredible performances here. Brett [Pelling] wanted to bring her here and as did we, being from here and having the crowds that we get for the Grand Circuit races. So it’s exciting; it’s an incredible ride.”

Reigning U.S. Horse of the Year Test Of Faith racked her 32nd win from 41 tries and has now banked $2,269,081 for owners Melvin Segal, Kentuckiana Racing Stable and Eddie Gran. Brett Pelling trains the 4-year-old Art Major mare. She paid $2.10 to win.

Last year’s Kentucky Futurity champ Jujubee also regained his mojo from a late start to his 4-year-old campaign to post a 1:50.2 win in the $149,000 Tactical Landing Allerage open trot.

Rattle My Cage carved the early fractions of :27.2 and :55 but immediately folded to pressure from pocket-pulling Cuatro De Julio by three-quarters in 1:23.4. Driver Andrew McCarthy perched Jujubee on Cuatro De Julio’s heels and uncorked the Greg Wright Jr. trainee in the straightaway to grab the lead with an eighth remaining. Ambassador Hanover split horses and chased the leader home to settle for second, beaten a half-length, with It’s Academic closing for third and Cuatro De Julio settling for fourth.

“It’s been a bit of a tough year for poor Jujubee, but the way he was today he felt slick as a needle,” Andrew McCarthy said after the race. “I’m very excited now. [The trip] was one of them deals where, if it looked like they were going to go enough, I definitely wanted to drive him off a helmet today on the big track. And it kind of worked out that way where we could sneak in and pick up cover in the last turn. That was the original plan.

“This horse obviously really holds a dear spot in my heart. It’s always a thrill to sit behind him and great to see him back in winning form today.

“It was a long time off, so he struggled a little bit when he first got back. He qualified really good, but then had a few other issues to iron out, but it seems like they are on track now. He was much better gaited today and it was a pretty smooth ride. Hopefully, he’s getting on the right track now.”

Wright Jr. said, “Unfortunately, he had a little setback there, a hairline in that pastern. We gave him the right time to let it heal. He came back and qualified good, but then he got sick and it’s just one thing after another with him… So, today, was a big relief. He’s just a good horse. He tries no matter what and it’s just up to me to get him right.

“He doesn’t have a whole lot left, Breeders Crown and the TVG. I’m not sure if there’s anything else that we’ll go to, but that’s okay with me. I think if we shut him down, he’ll come back great as a 5-year-old.”

Jujubee recorded his first win of the year and his 17th from 27 starts to add to his millionaire status for owner-breeder Jon Erdner with $1,076,157 in the bank. The 4-year-old stallion by Creatine paid $5.70 to win.

Wiesman Farms sponsored the Helpisontheway Allerage Farms fillies and mares trot while Jules Siegel and Fashion Farms presented the Arlene Siegel Memorial Allerage fillies and mares pace. The Tactical Landing Allerage Farms open trot was sponsored by the Tactical Landing Syndicate and Hickory Lane Farm.