Stunning Stag leaves the rest behind in the Autumn Stakes.

Stunning Stag leaves the rest behind in the Autumn Stakes.

Michael Burns

Stunning Stag Gets the Dough in Autumn Stakes

Gelding unleashes eye-catching stretch kick to easily win his first graded stakes.

Stunning Stag, charging from the rear of the pack, swept past his rivals leaving the furlong pole to easily register his first graded stakes win Nov. 13 in the $169,461 Autumn Stakes (gr. II) at Woodbine (VIDEO).

The 6-year-old Running Stag gelding was ridden to a 3 3/4-length victory by Gerry Olguin for trainer Sid Attard and his wife, Janice Attard, who owns Stunning Stag.

Stunning Stag, who unleashed a similar late charge in winning a prep for the Autumn Oct. 23, came home in 1:42.75 for the 1 1/16-mile Polytrack test. His clocking was slightly off the track mark of 1:42.22 set by True Metropolitan in this race in 2007.

Lord Justice, making his first start since March, sprinted away with the early lead, opening up by nearly five lengths while clicking off fractions of :24.13, :48.23 and 1:12.25 with several challengers chasing. Favored Southdale (7-5), an impressive winner of the Durham Cup (Can-III) in his last start, was the first to take aim at the leader after bidding five wide on the turn. He grabbed the lead approaching mid-stretch with Smart Bid threatening between rivals.

Stunning Stag, no factor in the early going while racing in seventh, angled out rounding the final turn and barreled past his rivals in eye-catching fashion to win going way.

"I just tried to be as patient as I can with him because I know he’s got a nice quarter-mile kick,” said Olguin. “I didn’t care where I was going to be laying. I just wanted to use him the last quarter. He had tremendous acceleration. It worked out well.” 

Smart Bid, on the comeback trail for trainer Graham Motion, held second by a half-length, while 34-1 outsider Perfect Bullet rallied for third by a head over 37-1 Guipago.

Southdale -- who could have probably sewn up a Sovereign Award as Canada's champion older male with a victory -- faded to sixth as the 123-pound high weight, finishing behind Barreling Home. Lord Justice was next.

Queen's Plate winner Big Red Mike did not break sharply, settling in mid-pack, and gave way on the far turn. He struggled home last for his fourth consecutive loss since taking Canada's most prestigious race for 3-year-olds.

The consistent Stunning Stag won for the ninth time in 26 starts to go with eight seconds and three thirds. He increased his earnings to $715,081 with the winning share of $107,028. This was the third win of the 2010 season for Stunning Stag, who has finished in the money in seven of eight races this year. He ran third to Southdale in the Durham Cup last month and was second to that one in the Eclipse Stakes (Can-III) in June.

Adena Springs bred Stunning Stag in Ontario. The dark bay is out of Midday Fun, by The Prime Minister. Stunning Stag won the Mt. Sassafras Stakes for Canadian-breds in October 2009.

Sent off as the third choice in the field of eight Stunning Stag carried 119 pounds and paid $10.30, $4.40 and $3.30. He topped a $42.20 exacta. Second choice Smart Bid returned $4.40 and $3.50 in his second start since January, when he ran second in the San Fernando Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita. Perfect Bullet was $8.50 to show. The $2 trifecta was $655.90 and the $1 superfecta was worth $1,687.70.