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Oaklawn Park: Atigun Healthy Again

Oaklawn Park: Atigun Healthy Again
Photo: Oaklawn Park

With the camp feeling he deserves one more shot at the big 3-year-old shows, Shortleaf Stable’s Atigun is heading into the $1 million Arkansas Derby Saturday off another strong workout at Oaklawn.


Trained by Ken McPeek, the 3-year-old son of Istan was 11th in the Rebel Stakes (G2) March 17 but saw his training compromised earlier this winter by a quarter crack that popped open just before the Southwest Stakes in Feb.


Under Terry Thompson, Atigun fired a bullet workout Saturday in company with stablemate and Carousel Stakes hopeful Salty Strike, with both going five furlongs in 59 3/5.


“We feel like he deserves another shot,” said assistant trainer Phillip Bauer. “The workout was fantastic. He’s done so well since the last race and we feel he probably fooled us a little into thinking he was ready for it. He’s ready to rock-and-roll.”


Team McPeek will start the Racing Festival of the South Wednesday with the improving filly Illegally Blonde in the $300,000 Fantasy Stakes (G2). The daughter of Mineshaft was plagued by troubled trips this winter before a blow’em out performance to break her maiden March 18.


“Based on her last race, it looks like she belongs,” said Bauer. “You can’t dodge anyone in a race like that, but if you go by her last race she has a chance. You can throw out her whole 2-year-old season, and then see that she’s probably like a lot of Mineshafts that put things together later on. She’s putting it together nicely at this point.”


Salty Strike came out of her breeze with Atigun in good shape and appears ready to tackle the six furlongs of the $75,000 Carousel in what could be an audition for the Humana Distaff (G1) on Derby Day at Churchill Downs. She’s been off since winning the Dream Supreme Stakes in Louisville last November.


“She’s run so well at Churchill that I think the long term goal is to get her ready for a big race there,” said Bauer. “We know she belongs with this kind of group.”





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