04/28/2012 12:02PM

Atlantic City: True to Tradition, now 10, has plenty of back class

Barbara Weidl/Equiphoto
True to Tradition, shown winning the Turf Monster Handicap in 2008, will try to regain his form in a starter allowance at Atlantic City.

True to Tradition, a Grade 2 stakes winner during a long career which has seen him win 13 races and $842,225, will try to prove his gas tank hasn’t hit empty when he returns from a three-month layoff Tuesday in a 5 1/2-furlong sprint for horses who have started for a claiming price of $12,500 or less since 2010 in the finale of a six-race, all-turf card at Atlantic City.

Now 10, True to Tradition was at his peak during a 2008 season in which he won the $250,000 Turf Monster Handicap and the Grade 2 Nearctic in consecutive starts. He remained a stakes-caliber turf sprinter in 2010, when he was the runner-up in the My Frenchman and Wolf Hill, both at Monmouth Park.

Last season, trainer Scott Lake dropped True to Tradition substantially in class and he responded by winning a pair of races for a $25,000 claiming tag and missing by a nose in another at the same level. He became eligible for Tuesday’s race by finishing second for claiming prices of $7,500 and $6,250 on dirt late last fall.

His two most recent races on turf, however, have been discouraging. True to Tradition was 10th at Belmont and 11th at Gulfstream, both in sprints at the $25,000 claiming level.

The best recent turf sprint form in Tuesday’s 12-horse field belongs to Alston Gunner, who made his grass debut in March following 18 races exclusively on dirt. The 5-year-old Alston Gunner, based at Penn National with trainer Hugh McMahon, finished second to repeat winner Wire Funds for a $11,500 tag, then overcame a slow start to finish a close fourth, 3 1/4 lengths behind 10-time stakes winner Ben’s Cat, in the Mister Diz two weeks ago at Pimlico.

The field also includes Moose Man, winner of a pair of grass races going 7 1/2 furlongs last season; Elidefeatspeyton, who outran his 38-1 odds to finish second by a length returning from a six-month layoff in a second-level optional $25,000 claimer; and Backbackbackgone, a three-time stakes winner on synthetic surfaces in California as a 2-year-old of 2008 but just 1 for 21 lifetime on turf and 0 for 25 over the past two seasons.