ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 21, 2011) – Atta Boy Roy, a 6-year-old ridgling with enviable travel and victory ledgers, posted his first win in three lifetime tries at Santa Anita Friday, and he earned it the hard way.

Racing around two turns for the first time in over two years, Atta Boy Roy hung on for a desperate nose decision over one-time Santa Anita Handicap favorite Matto Mondo in the afternoon’s $53,900 allowance feature. He then withstood a steward’s inquiry to seal his one-mile triumph in 1:35.09.

With Daniel Vergara in the saddle to give Valorie Lund her first training victory at Santa Anita, the Washington-bred son of Tribunal took the lead soon after the start and opened up by three lengths nearing the far turn. He prevailed in a stretch-long duel with Matto Mondo while drifting out nearing the wire and brushing with his rival despite Vergara’s right-handed urging.

“It’s exciting,” Lund said in the winner’s circle. “I’ve been so nervous all week, I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking, ‘What if I’m wrong and he stops at the quarter-pole?’” But routing indeed agreed with the runner owned by R E V Racing who had faltered at 6-1 in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs. “I’m really proud of this horse,” said Lund. “He’s all I’ve got.”

In a field reduced to four with the late scratch of Indian Firewater, Atta Boy Roy was the third choice at odds of 3-1. With no show wagering, he paid $8.80 and $4. Matto Mondo, a close third behind Einstein and Champs Elysees in the 2009 Big ’Cap, paid $3.60 to place while ridden by Victor Espinoza.

The victory was the 13th in 30 starts for Atta Boy Roy. He has finished second on seven occasions. He began the year with a dull effort in Santa Anita’s Grade II Potrero Grande Stakes on April 3 before gaining two wins while traveling to Arizona, Kentucky, Iowa, New York and Minnesota for his next five starts. Friday’s winning purse of $33,000 boosted his career earnings to $579,580.

“He doesn’t like synthetics, they’re not for him,” noted Lund. “He just swims on them. We’ll take him back to Phoenix now and plan through the winter to find some races for him here at Santa Anita.”

The duel between Atta Boy Roy and Matto Mondo became so exclusive that third-place Shediak finished 25 ¼ lengths behind the pair. It was another 6 ¼ back to Total Bull, the 9-10 favorite who had not raced in 18 months.

Sister Moon, who set a Del Mar track record in her maiden debut, returns to action in Saturday’s $65,000 Anoakia Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs. The Anoakia heads a 10-race program that commences at 1 p.m.