MILTON, September 25, 2018 – Hambletonian champion Atlanta battled heavy rain and older rivals to finish second in Tuesday’s $34,000 Preferred at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Four-year-old trotting mare Royal Witch delivered a top-notch effort in the rain to pull off a 12-1 upset victory in 1:56.1 for driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Ben Baillargeon.
Dunbar Hall fronted the field of six into the backstretch after being parked through a :28.4 opening-quarter, leading to the half in :58.4.
Royal Witch came first-up from third for Gingras on the far turn and trotted around Dunbar Hall, who made a break strides before the three-quarter pole. Atlanta and trainer/driver Rick Zeron got away fourth and stayed inside on the far turn to sit fifth and just over three-lengths from the lead.
After reaching three-quarters in 1:27.2, Royal Witch was able to seal the deal with a :28.4 final-quarter for her eighth win of the season. Atlanta and Zeron finished up well, making up ground in the lane and splitting late to edge B Yoyo for second. The margin of victory was a length and a quarter.
A daughter of Kadabra, Royal Witch has now earned $109,300 in 17 starts this season and her 11thcareer victory pushes her to $224,793 in lifetime earnings for owners Tom and Elizabeth Rankin.
Royal Witch’s first-career Preferred victory saw her return $27.80 for a $2 win ticket.
Hambletonian champion Atlanta was making her first start since finishing third in the $340,000 Elegantimage on September 15. The Zeron trained daughter of Chapter Seven is being towards the Kentucky Filly Futurity on October 7 at The Red Mile for her next start.
Atlanta, who has won six of 10 starts this season, increased her seasonal earnings to $784,902 with her 10th ‘on the board’ finish of the season. Her career earnings currently sit at $919,977 for owners Zeron, Crawford Farms, Holland Racing Stable, Howard Taylor and Brad Grant.
Live racing resumes Thursday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7:10 p.m.