What's Next For Atlanta?

Published: August 11, 2018 01:36 pm EDT

Fans of harness racing looking to see 2018 Hambletonian champ Atlanta make her next start have to set their sights north of the 49th parallel and on Campbellville, Ontario.

The filly's co-owner and trainer, Rick Zeron has stated that the next starts for Atlanta will be against the fillies in Grand Circuit action at Mohawk.

"She's coming home Sunday (August 12)," Zeron told Trot Insider. "She'll go Casual Breeze, Simcoe, Elegantimage."

The first of those stakes events is the Casual Breeze, with divisions slated for Friday, August 24. The Simcoe is scheduled one week after on August 31, followed by the eliminations for the Elegantimage on Saturday, September 8.

Depending on the number of entrants in the Casual Breeze and how the draw shakes out, the Casual Breeze could mark the first three-year-old match-up between arguably harness racing's top two trotting fillies -- Atlanta and Hambletonian Oaks winner Manchego. Both Atlanta and Manchego are eligible to the Casual Breeze, Simcoe and Elegantimage.

Only once in 2017 did Atlanta and Manchego cross paths, and that was in the 2017 Breeders Crown. Manchego captured that event, as she did every event she raced in as a rookie. This year, however, each filly has tested the colts and tasted defeat. Atlanta's record from seven starts reads 6-1-0, while Manchego's stands at 5-1-0.

Heading into the Hambletonian, Manchego's trainer Jimmy Takter said that he could understand why, in his opinion, Team Atlanta decided to take a shot against the boys in the Hambletonian.

“I don’t blame them for entering the Hambo,” Takter told Harness Racing Weekend Preview. “I’m not sure she could beat Manchego so why not take a shot against the boys? There are three really, really good fillies [in the Hambletonian Oaks -- Manchego, Phaetosive and Plunge Blue Chip], and in the colt division it is easier for her to win the elimination.”

When asked about a potential match-up with Manchego and the statement regarding his prized pupil, Zeron simply said "I'll let Atlanta do the talking for the team."