11/28/2009 12:00AM

Marathon right spot for Atoned


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - When Atoned won the 12-furlong Nasty and Bold Stakes by a neck in May, trainer Todd Pletcher hoped he had found a niche as a marathon specialist for the 4-year-old ridgling. Pletcher never got to find out for sure, as Atoned got hurt soon after that race and was sidelined for the summer and most of the fall.

Pletcher hopes to learn more about Atoned's marathon abilities Sunday when he heads a nine-horse field entered in the $65,000 Power Lunch Stakes at 1 3/4 miles. The Power Lunch is the featured event on the final day of racing over Aqueduct's main track. Racing switches to the inner track on Wednesday.

The Power Lunch could serve as a prep for the $65,000 Gallant Fox at 1 5/8 miles over the inner track on Dec. 31.

The Nasty and Bold was a prep for the Grade 2 Brooklyn in June. Atoned did not make the Brooklyn, as he suffered a strained shoulder and needed time. In seeking a comeback race for Atoned, Pletcher found a conditioned allowance at a mile on the turf at Keeneland. Atoned raced wide throughout that day and finished fourth, beaten seven lengths.

"We had this race in mind and we felt like we needed something under him," Pletcher said. "The race was decent, but he's trained really well since then."

Pletcher, who also is running Denver in the Power Lunch, believes Atoned has the traits of a horse that would be successful at longer distances.

"Generally horses that want to go that far are horses that can gallop a long time," Pletcher said. "He's one of those horses that can click off [12-second furlongs] steadily for a long time."

Atoned, who has been defeated by a nose, head, or neck in six stakes, will break from post 4 under John Velazquez.

New Fandan has proven adept at marathon distances on turf. A Brazilian-bred gelding trained by Neal Terraciano, he won the John Henry Stakes at 1 3/8 miles over yielding turf at the Meadowlands on Oct. 30.

Trainer Pat Quick entered the mare Borrowing Base in the Power Lunch because of her preference for long distances. The 7-year-old Malibu Moonshine, a stakes winner at 12 furlongs in his youth, should also appreciate the three-turn configuration of this race.

Jane's Kid, Unbridled Danger, Tomcito, and Critical Acclaim complete the field.