Atras Looking for Graded Scores on Kentucky Derby Weekend

April 12, 2024

Neat ahead of his Transylvania (G3) win April 5 at Keeneland (Courtney Snow/Past The Wire)

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NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Red White and Blue Racing’s Neat, trained by Rob Atras and piloted by Reylu Gutierrez, made the grade with hard-fought rail bid to score by a nose over Cugino in last Friday’s Grade 3 Transylvania, a 1 1/16-mile turf test for sophomores, at Keeneland.

The Constitution colt, a $200,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, has won 4-of-6 starts, including an eventful score in the Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile on January 27 at Sam Houston.

Last out, Neat was headstrong into the first turn of the Grade 3 Transylvania before taking back to stalk while saving ground in fifth through three-quarters in 1:13.53. Musical Act and Cugino dueled for the lead from the top of the lane with Neat splitting rivals inside the final eighth to earn the win in a final time of 1:44.93. The winning effort garnered a career-best 85 Beyer Speed Figure.

“The race he had at Texas was an eventful first turn and it almost shaped up to be the same thing at Keeneland – not as dramatic but he had to dive down to the inside and horses were coming in and another horse was coming off the rail,” Atras said. “Reylu had to make a decision and then he kind of wanted to run off on him a little bit, almost like what happened at Sam Houston but Reylu knows the horse now and didn’t panic. He let the horses pass him and just let him settle.

“Turning for home he didn’t really have a seam,” Atras added. “He had to make his own way, so between the horse’s determination and Reylu’s ride it was pretty impressive. I was thrilled.”

Neat, a half-brother to multiple graded stakes-placed Louder Than Bombs, graduated at second asking when besting next-out winner St James the Great in a 1 1/16-mile turf test in October at Laurel Park and followed with a 3 1/2-length score over next-out winner Card Trick going the same distance against winners in November at Fair Grounds.

Atras said Neat will point to the Grade 2, $600,000 American Turf at 1 1/16-miles on May 4 at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

“He’s got enough tactical speed that a mile or a mile and a sixteenth is right around his range. He can be on the front or just off and still have a powerful kick coming home,” Atras said.

Atras could also have a strong contender for the sophomore filly turf division in Robert V. LaPenta and Madaket Stables’ Way to Be Marie, who drew off to a 6 1/4-length score against older foes in a 1 1/16-mile turf route on March 21 at Fair Grounds. The gate-to-wire effort under Florent Geroux registered a career-best 89 Beyer.

“Flo just inherited the front. She’s quick and has a high-cruising speed and just kind of carries it,” Atras said. “She’s another horse to be excited about and seems to be improving every start. I’m not sure what her best distance is yet, but I think she might stretch out and go a little further.”

Way to Be Marie will point to the Grade 2, $600,000 Edgewood at 1 1/16-miles on May 3 at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Oaks undercard.

“We are pointing her towards that race,” Atras said. “We ran into some problems at Fair Grounds with the rain and races coming off. We had wanted to try both of them in stakes down there. Fortunately, we were able to get an allowance race to go for her on the last weekend and she really performed well against older fillies.”

Way to Be Marie made her first two starts over the Big A turf, missing by a nose to eventual graded stakes-placed Dynamic Pricing traveling 1 1/16-miles in November. She followed with a stalking one-length score in a nine-furlong maiden in December at Fair Grounds.

A $95,000 purchase at the OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training sale, the Not This Time bay’s third dam is 1992 Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks-winner Golden Treat.

Law Professor scores in an allowance optional claimer Feb. 23 at Aqueduct (NYRA/Coglianese)

Law Professor, who won back-to-back optional-claiming events this year at the Big A for Atras, was purchased for $230,000 at last month’s Fasig-Tipton Digital Selected Sale by JTH Racing and transferred to trainer Wade Rarick.

Law Professor posted a narrow score over sloppy and sealed going traveling nine-furlongs on January 26 here ahead of a five-length romp going a one-turn mile on February 23 that garnered a career-best 100 Beyer.

Law Professor has since shipped to Arkansas where he has breezed twice over the Oaklawn Park main track, including a half-mile effort this morning in 49.40. He is nominated to the Grade 2, $1.25 million Oaklawn Handicap, a nine-furlong test for older horses on April 20.

The 6-year-old Constitution gelding boasts a perfect in-the-money record of 6-4-1-1 at the Big A, including nine-furlong scores in last year’s Queens County and Excelsior.

Law Professor won the off-the-turf Grade 2 Mathis Mile in February 2022 for his former conditioner Michael McCarthy four starts before taking the Tapit in September of that year over the Kentucky Downs green on debut for Atras.

@jonathanstettin great wrap up to the weekend. Had a $20 double to close SA with your picks!

pete daloia @coacpdaloia View testimonials