By Josh Cook
With his signature rail-ride Calvin Borel guided Atta Boy Roy to a victory in the $290,000 Grade II Churchill Downs Stakes in the ninth race Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Atta Boy Roy took the lead at the break and covered the seven furlongs in 1 minute, 22.54 seconds as he held off Warrior's Reward by a half-length.
It was the first graded stakes victory for trainer Valorie Lund in her 27-year career.
"This horse, I picked out as a yearling," Lund said. "I fell in love with him the minute I saw him. We thought he'd sell high and he didn't sell at all. We stole him for $4,500. I've galloped him since he was a 2-year-old.
"He's just come along. We've been patient; he's had trouble with quarter cracks. I really think that this is his year. He's a better 5-year-old than he was last year. He's a really outstanding horse to be around. Very calm."
It showed as Atta Boy Roy led the 12-horse field through fractions of 22.23 seconds, 44.73 and 1:09.16 along the rail.
"I worked this horse twice and I thought he was good and impressive when I worked him," Borel said. "He worked 46 and change (for four furlongs). He's a nice horse. He might look a little outclassed with these kind of horses, but he work was unbelievable."
Atta Boy Roy returned $22.20, $9.20 and $4.80 in his ninth victory in 18 career starts to improve his earning by $167,214 to $312,999.
Warrior's Reward returned $5 and $3.40 with Julien Leparoux aboard.
"He ran a very good race," Leparoux said. "He handled the track and the trip was a good one and he fired when he was supposed to. It was just that nobody ran with the winner and he got away from us all."
Musket Man, who finished third in last year's Kentucky Derby and was 2 3/4 lengths behind Warrior's Reward, paid $3 to show with Ramon Dominguez in the saddle.