Hightstown, NJ — Multiple-award-winning female trotter Atlanta will see her career come to a grand finale at the conclusion of this season, but not before harness racing fans get the opportunity to meet the world champion mare as she travels the Grand Circuit for the final time.
The first chance for fans will be this week at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in central Ohio. The Ron Burke-trained Atlanta will compete at Delaware for the first time in her career on Thursday in the Miss Versatility Series final, and a day earlier will participate in a meet-and-greet at the fairground’s Jugette Barn. The event Wednesday will be from 10 a.m. to noon.
Seven-year-old Atlanta is history’s co-fastest female trotter, with a time of 1:49, and the fourth-richest female trotter of all time with earnings of $3.29 million. In 2018, she became the first filly in 22 years to beat the boys in the Hambletonian and was named the Dan Patch Award Trotter of the Year. She added a Dan Patch Award plus an O’Brien Award the following year as the top trotting mare in the U.S. and Canada.
“It’s bittersweet, but we’re going to retire her,” said co-owner Michelle Crawford of Crawford Farms, which will be Atlanta’s home as a fulltime mom following retirement. “This mare is so near and dear to me, and Al feels the same way. I’ve never seen a more game horse or bigger heart in my life. I just admire that tenacity so much. She goes out and performs every time. She just knows it’s time to go.”
Atlanta already has one foal, a filly by Muscle Hill born in April through embryo transfer.
“I can’t imagine watching races next year and not seeing Atlanta,” Michelle said. “But she is going to be the foundation of our farm, our broodmare band, and what we have built.”
Atlanta has won 35 of 73 career races and hit the board a total of 60 times. She now is owned by Crawford Farms but will continue to race for the partnership of Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant, and Howard Taylor through the TVG Series final in late November.
In addition to the Hambletonian, her nearly two-dozen Grand Circuit victories include the 2018 Kentucky Filly Futurity as well as victories over male rivals in the 2020 Maple Leaf Trot, Allerage Open Trot, Dayton Derby, and Cutler Memorial plus the 2019 Graduate Series final and Charlie Hill Memorial. She also won two editions of the Armbro Flight (2019 and 2022) and the Allerage Mare Trot in 2021.
In last year’s Allerage, Atlanta’s 1:49 triumph with driver Yannick Gingras equaled the fastest-ever mile by a female trotter established by rival Manchego in 2019. Manchego, who retired in October 2021, ranks fifth on the career money list for female trotters, right behind Atlanta.
“I was sad when Manchego left because that was such a good rivalry,” Michelle said. “It was something you looked forward to, you knew that was going to be something to watch. That was just a rivalry to remember for racing fans and bettors.”
Of course, every day with Atlanta, who also has a 1:49.1 win to her credit from the 2019 Graduate Series final, has been something to remember.
“When you have a horse like her who can come out and deliver miles like (1:49), it’s really something to look forward to,” Michelle said. “If she has a bad start, there is a really good reason for it. But even when she’s off, she’s not off. She never throws in the towel. She really enjoys racing.
“I think everyone that’s come in contact with her appreciates her. She’s a queen.”