TORONTO, November 10 – Stunning Stag, who took last year’s Autumn Stakes in impressive fashion, looks to make a return trip to the winner’s circle in the Grade 2, $150,000 feature, Saturday at Woodbine, an event that has also drawn this year’s Prince of Wales and Breeders’ Stakes champion, Pender Harbour.
Yet another astute claim by trainer Sid Attard almost four years ago, Stunning Stag, who took last year’s Autumn by 3 ¾ lengths, heads into his 31st career start off a third-place finish in the Presque Isle Downs Mile Stakes on September 9.
Attard, who claimed the now seven-year-old for $40,000 on November 17, 2007, has high praise for his enduring star.
“He’s in good shape, he’s training well and he runs well fresh,” said Attard, of the 10-time winner, who has 24 top-three finishes. “But I can’t say I ever expected him to be like this. When you claim a horse for $40,000, you hope they win for $50,000.”
Stunning Stag has delivered beyond those modest expectations.
After a tenth-place start, 13 ¼ lengths behind the winner, to launch his career on May 18, 2007, the Ontario-bred regrouped to finish second in his next race.
His first try on turf didn’t pan out, the end result a seventh-place finish in a 1 ¼-mile effort on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course on July 15, 2007. But it proved to be a race to remember, representing the last time Stunning Stag would finish lower than fifth.
In fact, since that grass try, Stunning Stag, who broke his maiden in his fourth race, at seven furlongs on the Toronto oval Polytrack, has 10 victories, eight seconds, five thirds, three fourths and one fifth-place performance.
Not bad for a horse who lost his first three starts by a combined 29 ¾ lengths.
“I feel we got lucky with this guy,” said Attard, of Stunning Stag, who won three consecutive races from October 23, 2010 to May 8, 2011. “We were surprised a little bit at how he’s kept running so well. But he always shows up. He’s a nice guy to be around. He loves to train and he’s happy.”
But there is one thing the lifetime earner of over $900,000 isn’t overly thrilled about.
“He hates the heat,” offered Attard. “He doesn’t like it at all.”
Stunning Stag, however, has shown a penchant for enjoying Autumn.
FIELD FOR THE AUTUMN
Post / Horse / Jockey / Trainer
1 / Straight Story / Jesse Campbell / Alan Goldberg
2 / Court of the Realm / Emile Ramsammy / Peter Berringer
3 / Stunning Stag / Gerry Olguin / Sid Attard
4 / James Street / Patrick Husbands / Josie Carroll
5 / Hotep / Justin Stein / Mark Frostad
6 / Mobilizer / Tyler Pizarro / Roger Attfield
7 / Pender Harbour / Slade Callaghan / Mike DePaulo
8 / Artic Fern / David Clark / Mike Keogh
9 / Unbridled Kimanchi / Luis Contreras / Brian Lynch
10 / City Wolf / Emma-Jayne Wilson / Reade Baker