10/19/2011 1:02PM

Santa Anita: Atta Boy Roy in Cup test


ARCADIA, Calif. – It’s not too late to earn a trip to the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs next month.

If the 6-year-old Atta Boy Roy runs a big race in a $58,000 allowance race over a mile at Santa Anita on Friday, trainer Valorie Lund says the $1 million BC Dirt Mile on Nov. 5 is a possibility.

“He would have to really, really shine,” she said.

Atta Boy Roy was 10th in the 2010 BC Sprint, but won the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes over seven furlongs there in May 2010. For Friday’s race, Atta Boy Roy starts in a race longer than a sprint for the first time since a fifth in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs in August 2009.

Owned by REV Racing, Atta Boy Roy has won 12 of 29 starts and $546,580. He won the minor Shot of Gold Stakes at Canterbury Park on Sept. 11, his only stakes win in six starts this year. Through the season, Lund has noticed that Atta Boy Roy does not like dirt in his face. At Saratoga in August, Atta Boy Roy never made the lead in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt Handicap over six furlongs and faded to finish last of eight.

“He’s decided he doesn’t want to eat dirt,” she said. “When you run in the class of sprinters like he did, it’s not easy to make the lead.

“I believe he will [run a] mile well. We’ve changed his program. He’s been two-mile galloping. We’ve been slowing him down in the first few quarters [of his works] and letting him gallop out.”

Atta Boy Roy will be tested. He is part of a field of five, all stakes winners. Matto Mondo won the Grade 3 Thunder Road Handicap on turf in 2009, but was injured following a third in that year’s Santa Anita Handicap. A winner of 2 of 7 starts this year, Matto Mondo was claimed by a partnership and trainer Doug O’Neill for $62,500 on Sept. 30, the day he won a one-mile turf race.

Shediak won the Windy Sands Handicap at Del Mar on Sept. 3, but was last of eight in the Grade 2 Kentucky Cup Stakes at Turfway Park on Sept. 24 over a synthetic surface that he did not prefer, trainer Ben Cecil said.

Trainer Bob Baffert starts Indian Firewater, the winner of the Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes in January, and Total Bull, unraced since winning the Fifth Season Stakes at Oaklawn Park in April 2010.