DON Wehby, owner of Horse of the Year Atomica, says he was on the verge of retiring his great filly but her spectacular triumph in the Labour Day Trophy feature on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 has renewed connections' faith in continuing to race her.
Atomica, stepping down to the Overnight Allowance level, strode imperiously away from rivals, winning comfortably by 10 1/2 lengths in an excellent time of 1:24.4 for seven furlongs (1,400m).
Wehby stated that if Atomica did not win, and impressively so, there would have been a rest period before moving on to the breeding part of her career.
"To be honest with you, if she didn't perform up to standard in this race I was going to send her to the breeding shed. But with this win here [being] so convincing at this smart time I will have talk with the trainer (Gary Subratie) and decide on the next step.
"The main thing is to try and keep her fit, and it is proving very challenging so hopefully the trainer and the supporting team can keep her fit and we will take it from there. When you have a horse that is not 100 per cent you have to keep her happy and keep her as fit as possible," Wehby told The Supreme Racing Guide.
Wehby noted that his pre-race anxiety was greatly increased because he was aware of the difficulties and tribulations his pride and joy, Atomica, had gone through in order to get fit and race again.
"Atomica got badly injured in the Mouttet Mile last December when coming out of the starting gates so it has been hard work for the trainer and the groom to get her fit, as well as veterinarian Dr Marsh and others.
"I am extremely pleased with the performance. I mean, 1:24.4 cantering is really a good performance, and I am encouraged. But, she still has her issues and hopefully the trainer will be able to deal with them as she is not 100 per cent," Wehby said.
With champion jockey Dane Dawkins aboard for owner-trainer Gary Subratie, Atomica coupled up nicely on the inside rails and took command of the race approaching the six-furlong (1,200m) mark, ahead of Regal and Royal (Oshane Nugent), Champion Bubbler (Omar Walker), and Green Gold Rush (Sadiki Blake).
Atomica maintained a comfortable lead over her competitors as she approached the half-mile (800m) turn where she increased the tempo while remaining under a tight wrap. As she approached the distance Atomica, who was in cruise control mode, extended her strides and opened up daylight on her adversaries.
With no competitors coming forward in the stretch Atomica accelerated and drove home effortlessly, with Dane Dawkins literally immovable in the saddle. Perfect Brew (Tevin Foster) finished second, ahead of Green Gold Rush in third. The race splits were 24.1 x 46.4 x 1:10.4.
Atomica's performance impressed Subratie as well.
"She did it very comfortably and it was a good time. She was dropping class but at least she is getting back to herself, as we have been working through a lot of difficulties for the past four or five months and the effort is paying off a little.
"We'll see how she does in class when she gets up. She showed up today [Tuesday], won in a good time, and she didn't struggle — which is a good start — but we still have work to do," Subratie said.