The 2018 Hambletonian-winning Standardbred filly Atlanta was placed in an online auction on Feb. 12 at OnGait.com, and made history on Friday by bringing in a final bid of $1.55 million. Now a 4-year-old, Atlanta became the highest-priced Standardbred to be sold at auction in North America.
According to harnesslink.com, the filly's ownership group decided to list her on the website in an effort to buy out five percent partner and trainer Rick Zeron. Zeron is facing a six-month suspension and $10,000 fine from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which harnessracingupdate.com reports “led to Atlanta being stripped from contention for Canada's O'Brien Awards.”
Atlanta would not have been prohibited from racing in Ontario if she remained in Zeron's care, but Zeron and the filly would not have been welcome to race at Jeff Gural's three Standardbred tracks: the Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs.
“Whatever went on (with Zeron) went on in Canada and this mare was not in Canada at any point for any time,” said part-owner Brad Grant. “Not for one second do I believe that Rick did anything illegal with this mare. She passed every test, every stakes barn, the whole nine yards. There's no issue in my mind that this mare (raced clean).”
On Tuesday, the filly's 95 percent owners, including Grant (25), Holland Racing Stable (25), Howard Taylor (25) and Crawford Farms (20), made the decision to attempt to transfer Atlanta to a new trainer, Tony Alagna, and attempted to move the filly into his shed row at Sunshine Meadows training center in Florida. When Zeron's groom showed up at Alagna's barn to reclaim Atlanta, the entire ownership eventually agreed to list the filly on OnGait.
Michelle Crawford is listed as the winning bidder, and according to harnesslink.com she is joined in ownership by Howard Taylor, Brad Grant, and Bill Holland.
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