Are You Kidding Me wins the 2016 Autumn Stakes

Are You Kidding Me wins the 2016 Autumn Stakes

Michael Burns

Are You Kidding Me Gets Second Autumn Stakes

Roger Attfield trainee wins by 2 1/2 lengths.

Are You Kidding Me, confidently handled by Alan Garcia, took the Nov. 6 co-featured $200,000 Autumn Stakes (gr. II) at Woodbine.

Trained by Roger Attfield for owners Ronald K. Kirk, John C. Bates, and Michael Riordan, the defending Autumn winner glided to the lead as the field straightened for home in the 1 1/16-mile event, and was geared down in the final strides.

Royal Son, with Patrick Husbands in the irons, seized early control of the race, leading his five rivals through an opening quarter in :24.58 with Ghost Hunter tracking in second. Garcia positioned Are You Kidding Me comfortably in third as Royal Son was still calling the shots through a half-mile in :48.88.

Garcia revved up Are You Kidding Me three-wide into the final turn and the duo struck front with authority. They continued to pull away from the field and came home a 2 1/2-length winner, covering the 1 1/16-miles in 1:42.45.

Longhsot Oakton rallied to get second in a tight finish, while Freitag secured the show award.

It was the ninth lifetime win from 31 starts and third triumph from seven starts on the season for the 6-year-old, who claimed 2015 Sovereign Award honors as Canada's champion older horse.

"He's a nice horse," praised Garcia. "Today, he was more impressive than last time (a win in the grade III Durham Cup Stakes Sept. 24 at Woodbine). He took off. He was much the best today."

Attfield was equally pleased with the solid score by the versatile Kentucky-bred who has raked in over $1 million in lifetime earnings.

"He's a lovely horse," praised the hall of fame conditioner. "He's such a nice horse to be around and to train. His two works were really good and I went into the race with a lot of confidence."

Are You Kidding Me, the 4-5 favorite, paid $3.70, $2.70 and $2.50, runner-up Oakton paid $10.20, $4.70, and Freitag paid $3.70 to show.