06/01/2006 11:00PM

Distance test for Atlas Shrugs


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Atlas Shrugs has won a pair of one-turn stakes this spring at Woodbine and has become a very useful closing sprinter. He has never competed around two turns, though, so the jury is still out as to whether he is a legitimate prospect for the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate on June 25.

The verdict should be in Sunday, when Atlas Shrugs contests the $150,000 Plate Trial Stakes, a nine-furlong test for 3-year-olds eligible to the Plate.

Trainer Reade Baker claimed Atlas Shrugs for $50,000 at the end of the horse's busy 2-year-old campaign, in which he won 3 of 9 starts. He has won both of his starts this year, most recently getting a dream trip along the inside in the seven-furlong Queenston on May 6 to prevail by a neck over Edenwold.

Atlas Shrugs is by the El Gran Senor stallion Compadre, who has sired horses who have fared well going short and long. He is bred to be a pure sprinter on the dam's side.

Baker said he is unsure whether Atlas Shrugs will handle a route of ground.

"There are things about him that make him look like a come-from-behind sprinter, but he's a pretty determined guy," Baker said. "We think a lot more of him than the $50,000 claiming price. The first win was maybe a fluke, but he came back and did it again. Maybe he's one of those horses who will fluke a lot of things."

Baker said he was content with Atlas Shrugs's six-furlong work in 1:13.80 last Sunday in company with Tothemoonandback.

"They went head-and-head the whole way," Baker said. "[Tothemoonandback] is a better horse than Atlas Shrugs."

Edenwold, last year's Canadian champion 2-year-old, is the most accomplished runner in the field. He won three straight sprint stakes last summer, but in November he finished fourth in the Coronation Futurity at 1 1/8 miles and fifth in the Display Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.

Edenwold rallied very wide from just off a slow pace in the Queenston, his first start in over six months.

"I thought it was a huge effort coming off that layoff," said trainer Josie Carroll. "That's why we gave him a little time to bounce back off it. We were a little afraid of running right back in the [May 20 Marine Stakes] and having him bounce off that big race."

Also in the eight-horse field are Pyramid Park, who won the Cup and Saucer, and Thinking Out Loud, who won the Coronation Futurity.