Day At The Track

Atta Boy Dan battles back from injury

01:08 AM 14 Sep 2018 NZST
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Atta Boy Dan, harness racing
Atta Boy Dan and driver Dave Palone
Chris Gooden photo

WASHINGTON, PA, Sept. 13, 2018 -- He's battling back from an injury that forces many horses to retire, but if Atta Boy Dan wins Saturday at The Meadows, he'll achieve a significant milestone -- $700,000 in career earnings.

He'll go from post 5 in race 8, a $13,000 Conditioned Pace, with Mike Wilder aboard. Since Atta Boy Dan enters the contest with a lifetime bankroll of $693,802, only a win will get him to $700,000. First post is 1:05 PM.

A 9-year-old Western Terror-Dropitlikeitshot gelding, Atta Boy Dan sold for a more-than-respectable $70,000 as a yearling but had limited stakes success, winning a PA Stallion Series split and earning checks in other events. After Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC acquired him privately in 2013, he began putting together his sparkling resume.

"We got him as part of a package deal," recalls trainer Ron Burke. "He turned out to be worth more than the rest of the package combined."

In 2015-16, he won 26 races and more than $450,000. He took his mark of 1:48.4 at Pocono in 2015. That same year, he won at The Meadows in 1:49.1, fastest ever by an older gelding. (He shares that mark with Escape The News and Reggiano.)

But sometime after his Jan. 23, 2017 victory at The Meadows, disaster struck in the form of a broken coffin joint. He managed only four more starts last year and five so far this year.

"With that coffin joint bad, it's had for him to push off," Burke says. "He's had numerous flare-ups, so we've had to shut him down a number of times. I would never race him lame. I'd like to be able to give him eight or nine starts in a row and get a better feel for him. Right now he's a little overweight, so we're letting him race himself into shape."

Although he's without a win since that Jan. 23 victory last year, Atta Boy Dan has shown some promising signs, including two seconds and a third in his most recent outings, beaten no more than 3/4 lengths. Burke indicates he has no plans to instruct Wilder to take it easy on the gallant gelding.

"He's raced a couple weeks in a row now, and he's starting to get it back," Burke says. "I think he can still rough it."

Saturday's card offers a number of attractive wagering opportunities, including a pair of total-pool guarantees -- $10,000 for the Pick 5 (races 9-13), $7,500 for the Pick 4 (races 4-7 -- as well as a $1,864 jackpot in the Super Hi-5 (race 13).

by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

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