Atlanta Looks To Check That Final Box

Atlanta and trainer Ron Burke

When the Open mare trotters line up at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Saturday night (Oct. 29) for the $472,000 Breeders Crown final, one of the greatest trotters of all time will be looking to add the only line that is missing from her resume: a victory in this stake.
Triple millionaire Atlanta has competed in the Breeders Crown five times to date finishing second twice, third twice and fourth, and this will be her last opportunity to get the “W” in her final year of racing. And although it would be the connections' wish to get that accomplished, her trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras affirmed Atlanta’s legacy is secured regardless of the outcome.
“It’s big anytime you’re trying to win a Breeders Crown. But Atlanta’s career is complete to me no matter what she does. If you’re going to try to hold that against her, you’re really being picky. She is one of the greatest trotting mares ever,” said Burke.
“She’s one of the great ones, no doubt about it. But the Breeders Crown is one thing that’s missing on her mantle. It would definitely mean a whole lot to win it for her,” explained Gingras.
Burke also said that having Atlanta draw outside of Bella Bellini makes it very tough for his mare because the big track “picks up” Bella Bellini, so Atlanta will also have to step up her game.
Bella Bellini is already a Breeders Crown champion, having won it as a three-year-old. And there was no let down this year as she has come back at four just as good or better than she was in 2021. Bella Bellini has beaten both Atlanta and When Dovescry during this season and has also bested all male fields in the Hambletonian Maturity and Caesar’s Trot.
Trainer Nifty Norman spoke glowingly of his trotter and feels she’s in a good spot here for this final.
“She’s been fantastic, she’s exceeded my expectations. To me, she’s the best mare in the country and you don’t expect it from a four-year-old. And I think she will appreciate getting back on a big track. Going to Yonkers (for the Miecuna Invitational) was probably a bad idea on my part, but it was a $250,000 race and we learned something, anyway. She doesn’t like a half,” said Norman.
When Dovescry has something in common with Atlanta besides being a multi-millionaire. Although she has won more than $300,000 in Breeders Crown events to date, she too has not won a championship in four tries after being twice second and third. And unlike Bella Bellini, she had no issues at all going around four turns at Yonkers Raceway as she won the Bob Miecuna Invitational by 1-1/4 lengths. When Dovescry comes in fresh off that victory right into this final and her trainer Brett Pelling is feeling confident about her chances.
“She is in the form of her life right now and I think she really appreciates the cooler weather. I don’t think she likes to sweat too much and she’s definitely done better as we’ve gone into the fall. Some horses come to their form early in the summer, and other horses seem to get it done in the fall. We’re always thinking long term so hopefully this is the time of year where it really pays off.” said Pelling. 

For the next decade, besides the Crown crystal breeders trophy, the winning breeder of the Crown Mare Trot champion will receive the Charlie Keller Memorial Award, a $10,000 bonus. The bonus will be presented after the race to the winning breeder of the Mare Trot champion in the Diamond Creek Winner’s Lounge by Keller nephew Dan Bittle.

The $472,000 Mare Trot is the second race and the first of eight Breeders Crown championships on Saturday’s card featuring $6.1 million in purses.  

Both Breeders Crown nights will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 2 (FS2) in the U.S. On Friday (Oct. 28) the broadcast will feature analyst Jessica Otten on site at Woodbine Mohawk Park and NYRA hosts Acacia Clement and Anthony Stabile on the desk at Belmont at The Big A from 9-11:00 p.m. (EDT).

Saturday’s (Oct. 29) eight Breeders Crowns will be telecast from 7:30-11:00 p.m. (EDT) as part of NYRA's "America's Day at the Races" presentation and will feature Thoroughbred racing from Hollywood Casino at Charles Town in addition to the elite harness action from the Breeders Crown.

All four Breeders Crown finals for two-year-olds will be contested Friday at Mohawk. Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT) with the Crown fields going behind the gate in races six through nine. The finals for horses three and up are Saturday, also starting at 7 p.m.

To view the complete entries for this weekend's Breeders Crown finals, click one of the following links:

(Breeders Crown)

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