The trainer of Atlanta has been quoted as saying his 3-year-old trotting filly will give unbeaten Manchego "a run for her money" during the upcoming stakes season, and Friday night at the Meadowlands, the daughter of Chapter Seven did nothing to make anyone think otherwise.
In the feature, a conditioned event for trotters that included 3-year-old colt, and Hambletonian hopeful, Fashionwoodchopper, 4-year-old mare, and 2017 New York Sires Stakes standout Celebrity Ruth as well as several older male trotters, it was Atlanta who reigned supreme in an eye-popping effort.
In the early going it was P L Icabod on the front as Atlanta sat sixth along the rail. D Ws Revenge vacated the five hole at the five-eighths, giving Atlanta a live tow heading to three-quarters. Scott Zeron, driving Atlanta for his dad, Rick Zeron, had the eventual winner in a third-over flow before swinging four wide at the head of the stretch.
Atlanta’s explosive final quarter of :27.1 then carried her past the field with ease, as she went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:52, which lowered her previous lifetime best by two seconds. Celebrity Ruth was second with even-money favorite Fashionwoodchopper third.
"Was I surprised by her effort?" asked Scott Zeron in the winner’s circle. "No. But I was impressed."
Atlanta paid $12.20 as the 5-1 third choice in the wagering for owners Rick Zeron Stables, Holland Racing Stables, Howard Taylor and Brad Grant. She’s now 5-for-10 lifetime.
All-source wagering on the program dipped to $1,622,801 (as compared to $2.4 million on the comparable 2017 card), due to short fields - the result of a lack of entries - throughout the nine-race program. As compared to the comparable card from last year, not only did the Big M have one less race, it had but 66 starters (as compared to 85 the year before) and an average number of starters of 7.33 per field (as compared to 8.5). Friday’s card included five 7-horse fields and one that had but six betting interests. One lucky bettor had a huge night, cashing in for $25,476 for being the only player to survive eight legs in the 20-Cent Survivor Pick-9. The Late 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five failed to result in a single-ticket winner, upping the carryover to $218,567. (Meadowlands)