Atomic Rain waited patiently early before moving wide for the drive and sailing to a 4 3/4-length win in the July 11 Long Branch Stakes (VIDEO), the traditional prep for Monmouth Park’s Haskell Invitational (gr. I) Aug. 2.
After breaking sharply, Atomic Rain took back early before making his big run to the lead. He stepped the 1 1/16 miles over a fast main track in 1:43.79 and returned $7, $3.80, and $2.40 as part of the coupled entry with Rapid Redux, who set most of the pace. Despite the Odds was runner-up, a neck in front of Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Papa Clem, the 6-5 favorite who ran into some trouble early.
“This was the most professional race I’ve seen him run,” said winning trainer Kelly Breen. “I don’t know yet what we’ll do between now and the Haskell. He was pretty cranked up for this, but if I can crank him up anymore I will. He’s really coming into his own and if there’s a time for that, it’s now.”
Winning rider Joe Bravo said: “It’s unbelievable how much this horse has matured. Right from the start of the race he wanted to go. I kind of had to try to relax him heading into the first turn. He always had the ability and now his mind is on track.”
The Long Branch victory was the third in 10 starts for Atomic Rain, a 3-year-old colt by Smart Strike from the Cox’s Ridge mare Paradise Pond. He has now earned $248,540 for owners George and Lori Hall.