BY JIM WELLS
Atta Boy Roy stood outside the barn where his stall is located with his head erect, in the fashion of one of racing’s revered greats from, say, the 1930s or 1940s who were captured for all time in the sepia tones of some photography then.
Say this about Atta Boy, he knows when he’s being studied and he poses for his audience, achieving a regal stance meant to elicit respect.
He gives the appearance of being compact, rather smallish, and yet his size is deceiving. “He has a 76 1/2 inch girth,” said his trainer Valorie Lund, lining up directly in front of the subject at hand. “You can see he has a nice neck, flat knees and full cannon bones. Perfect conformation. You could run a plum line down his front and it would be perfectly straight.”
Clearly, the trainer loves this horse, and she makes no bones about it. “He’s so smart and handsome if he were a man I’d run away with him,” she said.
Racehorses come by their names in various ways, some rather routinely, but the details of Atta Boy Roy’s naming bear mention.
His name was originally Irish Tribe. Valorie didn’t care for the appellation nor did the Roy Schaefer, who was about to make the winning bid for the horse.
With the bidding under way, Lund kept elbowing Schaefer to encourage the process, saying with her body language, atta boy, Roy.
This occurred at the Washington State Blue Ribbon Yearling Sale. The consignors had a $30,000 reserve on the horse. “We were willing to go $35,000,” Lund recalled. There was no need.
Irish Tribe didn’t show well before the sale. “He had a lip chain on him and was acting up,” Lund said.
The consignors later lowered the reserve to $20,000, which continued to fall and Schaefer wound up getting the yearling for $4,500.
Not bad for a horse that has earned $525,000 to date.
This 6-year-old son of Tribunal from Irish Toast has additional deceptive qualities. “He looks like a puppy but he has a tiger inside,” Lund added.
He is easy to handle unless you get rough with him. His trainer says simply that you better be prepared for all hell to break loose if you try to take advantage of Atta Boy’s otherwise good nature.
Atta Boy’s most recent outing was in the Grade 1 $250,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Stake at Saratoga on Aug. 7. He finished last in the eight horse field.
“He doesn’t like to run down into the dirt,” Lund said. “He doesn’t have to be on the lead. Had he been outside, he could have worked his way in, but two horses dropped over and pocketed him.”
Lund said that simply took Atta Boy’s race away from him.
Atta Boy has a constant companion whenever he travels or goes to the track,
He ponies up nicely to Lund’s saddle horse, Written in Red, not all that startling until you discover that the pony horse is a stud, too.
The other day, for example, Atta Boy peered out his stall window and spotted Written in Red being loaded into the van destined for Saratoga Race Course. “He began talking immediately,” Lund said. “The two of them love each other.”
Wherever she goes, Lund gets comments from outriders or other track personnel once they discover her saddle horse is a stud.
Written in Red had bad knees and tender feet as a runner so Lund was left with a decision to make. “I decided I’d rather have a good saddle horse than a bad racehorse,” she said. She also intended to geld him after the decision. “But I never found a need to,” she said
A side note: Written in Red was foaled by T H Siberia, who broke her maiden at Long Acres in 1991 with Canterbury Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens in the irons.
Lund is at Canterbury Park for the first time this summer, with 16 horses. She is now a resident of Phoenix, Ariz., and trains winters at Turf Paradise. A native of Oregon, she trained for several years at Long Acres, then moved to Boise where she and her ex-husband ran a restaurant and she raced at Les Bois.
Despite the shutdown this summer, Lund has enjoyed her first experience with Minnesota racing, particularly Canterbury’s management style with horsemen. “That’s the only reason I stayed during the shutdown,” said Lund, who considers the winter meet in Phoenix and summer meet in Shakopee a nice fit. “It transfers well,” she said.
Of course, Lund doesn’t mind travel, not if you consider the trip she took in 1976 as a 17-year-old. She was part of the Great American Horse Race that began in Frankfort, N.Y., and ended in Sacramento, Calif. She was featured in a Sports Illustrated Piece as well as in a number of other magazine and newspaper articles on the subject.
Atta Boy has demonstrated in works that he likes the track in Shakopee but he will not get an opportunity to run here. There are simply no races for him.
Lund hopes that’s the case, too, on Sunday with Gatling Gun, who’ll run in the $25,000 HBPA Sprint Stakes.
He’s not Atta Boy Roy, but he’s quick, quick, quick just the same.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK
Lonnie Arterburn got rave reviews on Canterbury’s turf course from his daughter, Brittany, who rode in Shakopee last summer, so this year he sent his stable _ mostly grass runners _ from Florida to Shakopee to test out those reports.
The results have been impressive. Brittany, who rides almost exclusively for her parents, Lonnie and Doris, has been dubbed Queen of the Turf. Lonnie’s barn has shared that success.
His runners hit the board 63 percent of the time and are 9-4-4 from 27 starts, good enough for eighth place in the training standings despite a smallish stable.
John Provisiero has been on the racetrack for 31 years, starting as a youngster in New York when he walked hots before school in the morning. He is working his second meet for trainer Percy Scherbenske and is described by most who know him as a happy fellow with a good personality, always willing to try to cheer up his colleagues and companions. He’ll pitch in even when the work’s not his, as he did recently, assisting a stable at the other end of the barn when a horse there contracted colic.