Queen's Plate winner Big Red Mike takes on seven older rivals in the $150,000 Autumn Stakes (Can-II) at Woodbine Nov. 13.
Big Red Mike, trained by Nicholas Gonzalez for owner Terra Racing Stable, is the only 3-year-old in the field for the Autumn, a 1 1/16-mile Polytrack test. It is the eighth race on the program with a 4:26 p.m. EST post.
Looking for his first win since the July 4 Queen's Plate, the Ontario-bred gelding by Tenpins is reunited here with jockey Eurico Da Silva. He guided Big Red Mike to a 1 1/2-length win in Canada's most important race for 3-year-olds. They will break from post 3.
Big Red Mike was ridden by Luis Contreras in his last start, a runner-up allowance effort in his initial try against older horses Oct. 23 at the Autumn distance. As usual, he set the pace that day before being caught late by Stunning Stag, who also returns in this spot.
The 123-pound high weight is Robert Ferguson's Ontario homebred Southdale, coming off a 3 1/4-length tally in the Durham Cup (Can-III) over the Polytrack surface Oct. 3. The 4-year-old Street Cry colt spots the Queen's Plate winner three pounds.
Southdale has enjoyed a strong year in 2010 for trainer Ian Black, also capturing the Eclipse Stakes (Can-III) while taking three of six starts overall. He used his powerful stalking style to sweep past Barreling Home approaching mid-stretch in the 1 1/8-mile Durham Cup and was ridden out the final sixteenth. Patrick Husbands replaces Jim McAleney this time aboard Southdale, who drew the rail.
Stunning Stag, a 6-year-old Running Stag gelding trained by Sid Attard, has been in the money in six of seven starts this year, including runner-up efforts in the Eclipse and Seagram Cup (Can-III) and thirds in the Presque Isle Downs Mile and Durham Cup.
Barreling Home, who could give Big Red Mike a tussle on the front end, returns in the Autumn as one of three entrants for Stronach Stables. Trained by Sean Smullen, the Florida homebred 5-year-old Awesome Again horse is coming off back-to-back seconds and seeks his first graded first stakes win.
Also representing Stronach Stables are Perfect Bullet, from the Smullen barn, and Lord Justice, formerly with Todd Pletcher and now conditioned by Reade Baker.
Perfect Bullet ran sixth in the allowance race in which Stunning Stag defeated Big Red Mike, which was just his first start since July 1. Lord Justice, a son of A.P. Indy, was a two-time stakes winner last year at 3 but has started only twice in 2010, the last time March 27. Lord Justice was supplemented to the Autumn.
Augustin Stable's comebacker Smart Bid ran third in an optional claiming allowance over Keeneland's Polytrack Oct. 17, his first start since January. Trained by Graham Motion, the 4-year-old son of Smart Strike tries Woodbine for the first time.
Completing the field is Guipago, a stakes winner on turf at Woodbine in September for trainer Analisa Delmas.
$150,000 Autumn Stakes (Can-III, Race 8, 4:26 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Synthetic)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Southdale (ON), P Husbands, 123, I Black
2. Barreling Home (FL), R A Dos Ramos, 119, S Smullen
3. Big Red Mike (ON), E R Da Silva, 120, N Gonzalez
4. Stunning Stag (ON), G Olguin, 115, S C Attard
5. Guipago (ON), T Pizarro, 121, A M Delmas
6. Smart Bid (PA), A R Napravnik, 119, H G Motion
7. Perfect Bullet (KY), J C Jones, 117, S Smullen
8. Lord Justice (KY), E Ramsammy, 115, R Baker