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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
55,000 Furlongs to the Finish

2012 Breeders' Cup Marathon: Atigun is the lone 3-year-old

With a late surprise consideration, Atigun is now being pointed toward the 1 ¾ mile Breeders’ Cup Marathon. Trainer Ken McPeek has confirmed that Golden Ticket is being pointed toward the Classic, but his other 3 year old trainee, Atigun, would be headed to the Marathon. 


By Istan, out of the Dynaformer mare Rimini Road, Atigun is still looking to find his calling card in this year’s crop of 3 year olds.  His sire, Istan, was a multiple graded stakes winner at distances up to 8.5 furlongs, so if Atigun does have stamina influences, they are likely coming from the female side of his family.

Atigun made a name for himself by being “the other guy” in the thrilling 2012 edition of the Belmont Stakes.  While the dual of Union Rags and Paynter may be the flashback we all remember, it was the move by Atigun around the final turn that helped set the whole scene into motion.  Coming into the stretch, he was 4 wide and gaining ground on Paynter with Unstoppable U on his inside. This late outside surge forced Mike Smith to swing Paynter wide coming out the turn, leaving room for Union Rags to sneak by on the rail. The finishing order of the race was Union Rags, Paynter, and Atigun respectively, all separated by less than 2 lengths.


Atigun then followed up his Belmont performance with a disappointing run through the slop at Saratoga in the 9 furlong Jim Dandy.  McPeek was not discouraged and entered Atigun a month later in the 10 furlong Travers. Travelling 4 wide through the first turn, and 5 wide on the second turn he closed to finish 4th less than 2 lengths behind the dead heat winners.  Again he showed his preference for distance with the improved finish and a wide trip.


Next up for the Istan Colt was the grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup to face his elders. His trip in this 10 furlong race once again was wide, and he crossed the line 4th some 7 lengths behind the winner Flat Out.  It is interesting to note that Atigun was tracking about 4-6 lengths behind the eventual winner the entire race, showing he didn’t lose as much ground as the rest of the field. Flat Out was something special in this race, wearing down Stay Thirsty, but if Atigun had not been caught 6 wide, maybe he could have been closer for the finish. 


So what do these performances mean for the Marathon?  His best finish this year came at 12 furlongs, while his worst stakes races have come at 9 furlongs or less.  Although he doesn’t demonstrate the explosive acceleration or the high cruising speed of a sportscar, he seems to have the gas mileage of a Toyota Prius. 


Atigun has as good a chance as any of the horses in this year’s Marathon, and he will be the lone equine flag bearer for three year olds at the grueling distance of 14 furlongs. In his only workout since the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Atigun breezed 5 furlongs in 1:01.02 (10/24) at Belmont Park on October 13th. 

                                          Photo Credit to Al Bello/Getty Images


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Older Comments about 2012 Breeders' Cup Marathon: Atigun is the lone 3-year-old...

You RARELY find younger horses with dominant stamina, VERY rare.
I'm so excited to see he's going to go for the Marathon. I think he'll do great with the added distance.
The Marathon is getting better horse every year and it is good for racing to have a way to reward horses with stamina. I don't know what his odds will be but I think he has a shot at winning.
Good question Matt. I dont think he has gotten into trouble in previous races, but rather just didnt have the right running style compared to the winner. His moves on the turn look less like him speeding up compared to the field slowing down. Jockeys are forces to swing him wide to not lose momentum. The marathon will have much more sensible early fractions, and depending on his jock, if he can be forwardly placed and close the rail, he might very well find himself leading the charge coming into the stretch.
Sure seems like a tough spot for Atigun to finally win one. Does the Marathon give him more or less chance to get in trouble?
I agree with Brian; he is an interesting addition to the field. I would have expected him to go to the Classic, but perhaps we're looking at another underrated distance horse who, as you said, just hasn't found his calling card yet.
I think it will be a tough spot for him out there, but he's an interesting addition to the field.

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Meet Matt Scott 

My horseracing journey began when I was 16 years old and my mom took me to Hollywood Park. Although I did not fully appreciate it at the time, the experience stuck with me forever. 10 years later, during one of my many international business trips to Hong Kong, I visited Sha Tin racetrack to watch the races. This is where my true passion began. 


Holding a masters degree in mechanical engineering, the puzzle of handicapping intrigued me. I have made a career of making decisions based on trends, patterns, and formulas, which is why I think I was initially drawn to the sport. However, I have truly learned to appreciate the horses and how magnificent they are as athletes. 


I currently live in San Jose, CA, and when not following racing, I like to spend time with my wife, mountain bike, and design high-speed bicycles that I build and race For reference, 55,000 furlongs is the distance from Hong Kong to my home in San Jose. Also, I have 1-year-old dachshund (aka wiener dog) that I am training to race in the annual Wiener Nationals held at Golden Gate Fields.   


The purpose of this blog is to help give people the viewpoint of a fan that is newer to the sport and eager to learn. I like to respectfully speak my mind, and often the ideas come out of left field, which could give a fresh perspective on a sport rich with tradition and history. hope to represent the many future fans that I wish to follow my footsteps into the Sport of Kings. 

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