03/29/2011 4:18PM

Potrero Grande to see return of Atta Boy Roy

Barbara D. Livingston
Atta Boy Roy, Calvin Borel up, wins the Churchill Downs Stakes.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Trainer Valorie Lund did not know what to think at the end of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs last November.

Her top horse, Atta Boy Roy, had finished a troubled 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and had been pulled up on the first turn adjacent to an outrider when jockey Calvin Borel climbed off.

“I was more than terrified,” Lund recalled on Tuesday from her base in Arizona.

“I saw the bumping incidents and I saw Calvin stop by the outrider. I ran from the grandstand to the turn where the horse was. Initially they said he had pulled a suspensory, but he’s been an incredibly sound horse. The initial diagnosis was incorrect. It was basically superficial cuts and some bone bruises to the hind ankles.”

The incident earned Atta Boy Roy a deserved two-month vacation, which ended in January. Overall, in 2010, Atta Boy Roy won 3 of 7 starts and $345,371 for R.E.V. Racing, a season highlighted by a win in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

The same race is on Atta Boy Roy’s schedule this spring, but not until he starts in Sunday’s $150,000 Potrero Grande Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita.

A 6-year-old ridgling, Atta Boy Roy has been based with Lund in Phoenix since the Breeders’ Cup, first jogging in November when Lund assessed that the horse was not injured. She later turned him out at her Phoenix home before sending him back into training at Turf Paradise.

Since his return to training in mid-January, Lund has been delighted with Atta Boy Roy’s progress.

“He’s a naturally quick horse and he’s a nice horse,” she said. “He’s been training exceptionally well maybe better into this season than last season. We are ready to rock.”

The Turf Paradise surface is known for producing fast times, and Atta Boy Roy has scorched the track in recent works. He worked a half-mile in 44.80 seconds on March 1, five furlongs in 57 seconds on March 8 and six furlongs in 1:08.40 on March 17. He was downright pokey when he breezed a half-mile in 49.80 seconds on Sunday, his final workout before Grade 2 Potrero Grande.

Vicky Baze, who exercises Atta Boy Roy for Lund and rides at Turf Paradise, has the mount on Sunday, her first career ride at Santa Anita. Baze has ridden Atta Boy Roy once in his 23-race career, an easy win in allowance race at Turf Paradise last March.

Atta Boy Roy will ship to Santa Anita on Saturday morning. “He likes sleeping in his own bed,” Lund said. “It’s a nice easy ship over there.”

Atta Boy Roy will face a good test in the Potrero Grande. The probable starters include Amazombie, Bet On Victor, Captain Cherokee, Chocolate Candy, Colgan’s Chip, Crown of Thorns, and M One Rifle.

Crown of Thorns has not started since finishing second in the Grade 1 Goodwood Stakes at Hollywood Park last fall. He was the morning-line favorite in the BC Dirt Mile last November, but missed the race because of a knee problem that required minor surgery last fall.

Kinsale King eyes Ascot return

Kinsale King, scratched from the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai last weekend because of inflammation in a leg, is scheduled to return to California on Thursday, but may not be in the state for long, trainer Carl O’Callaghan said on Tuesday.

O’Callaghan said a trip to Royal Ascot in England is possible in June. A prep race in California is likely in advance of that trip. In 2010, Kinsale King won the Golden Shaheen and was third in the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

O’Callaghan said that Kinsale King responded to treatment from antibiotics after being scratched on race morning last Saturday.

“Once we treated him with antibiotics everything cleared up pretty rapidly,” O’Callaghan said. “He had an allergic reaction to something. It’s a shame. I didn’t want to chance it.”

Steiner making comeback

Nearly six years after he was injured in a spill that ended his riding career, Joe Steiner is mounting a comeback. Steiner, 46, is scheduled to ride Woodland Flood in a $12,500 claiming race Friday at Santa Anita.

“I decided to come back and ride,” Steiner said. “I know what I’m up against, but I still have the fire inside and owe it to myself to get back and do it.”

Until recently, Steiner was top exercise rider for trainer Bob Baffert, a position he held for two and a half years. He also worked horses for Baffert before his riding career ended. Steiner was the regular exercise rider for Lookin at Lucky and Silver Charm, who Steiner says is the best horse he has been on.

Steiner suffered nerve damage to his shoulder in a spill at Santa Anita on April 3, 2005, when 4-year-old filly Summer Soliel broke down on the backstretch and dislodged Steiner. Steiner underwent surgery to repair the shoulder, and planned a comeback. He did not ride again, however, and announced his retirement from riding in 2006.

Steiner has won 967 races from 10,010 mounts that earned more than $15 million. The leading apprentice rider in Southern California in 1981-82, Steiner rode for 24 years. His biggest win was on Saratoga Passage in the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes in 1987. His last win was March 25, 2005 on Free Rocket in a maiden-claimer at Santa Anita.

The personable Steiner, who worked as a stunt jockey on the movie Seabiscuit, said he tacks 116. He will represent himself.

Steiner, who is single, said, “My personal life is great and my health is great. You have to go where your heart is, where your passion is. This is what I live for.”