08/01/2011 4:20PM

Saratoga: Atta Boy Roy drills for Vanderbilt

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Barbara D. Livingston
Atta Boy Roy works four furlongs in 47.51 seconds over Saratoga’s main track on Monday.

The Atta Boy Roy 2011 Tour makes a stop in Saratoga this week, where the multiple stakes-winning sprinter will run in Sunday’s Grade 1, $250,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap.

Atta Boy Roy, winner of the 2010 Grade 2 Churchill Downs Sprint, began the year at Santa Anita, where he finished last in the Potrero Grande before winning an allowance race at Turf Paradise. He finished second to Noble’s Promise in the Grade 3 Aristides at Churchill before running third in the Iowa Sprint Handicap at Prairie Meadows.

Trainer Valorie Lund chose the Vanderbilt because she wants to find out sooner than later whether this year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint is a realistic goal for Atta Boy Roy, who finished last in that race in 2010.

“Last year, we decided between here and Remington Park, and I decided to duck all the tough horses and just give him a soft start,” Lund said, referring to the Remington Sprint Cup that Atta Boy Roy won. “This year, I decided if we’re going to see if he’s on the Breeders’ Cup trail come here now.”

On Monday, Atta Boy Roy worked four furlongs in 47.51 seconds over Saratoga’s main track, going a quick 23.06 for the opening quarter.

“I was really happy the way he worked,” Lund said. “He was nice and relaxed, and he handled the surface really well. He galloped out good, and he looks happy. He seems like he likes this surface, that’s good for us.”

Several other Vanderbilt runners worked Monday, including Apriority and Noble’s Promise.

Apriority, whose last trip to New York ended with a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Carter, worked a half-mile in 49.01 before the renovation break.

Apriority has not started since finishing second, beaten an agonizing nose in the final stride by Aikenite, in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Sprint on May 7. Apriority was scheduled to run in Calder’s Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap on July 9, but was scratched the morning of the race due to a foot abscess.

Monday’s work was the first for Apriority since the Smile and his first since arriving at Saratoga last week.

“I wanted a little better than a maintenance breeze, but nothing too fast, and what he did this morning was plenty,” trainer David Fawkes said. “I missed a couple of weeks of training because of the abscess, and with those type of horses, I might be a little behind the eight ball on Sunday.”

Fawkes said his major goal at the moment is the six-furlong Vosburgh at Belmont on Oct. 1, which is a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Fawkes won the 2010 BC Sprint with Big Drama.

Noble’s Promise, who won the Aristides at Churchill before finishing third in the Smile, worked a fast five furlongs in 59.80 under jockey Manoel Cruz, but was drifting out significantly in the stretch.

Others pointing to the Vanderbilt include Bank Merger, Gayego, Hamazing Destiny, and Trappe Shot.