10/20/2009 11:00PM

Allowance looks like a stakes

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Friday's allowance prep for the Autumn Stakes at Woodbine has lured a graded-stakes-quality field. Among the seven entrants are five stakes winners, including a champion and a Canadian classic winner. Two runners in the 1 1/16-mile Polytrack contest have won a derby.

The probable favorites, Ice Bear and Palladio, finished second and third in the Grade 3 Durham Cup Stakes Oct. 4.

Ice Bear rallied wide from sixth to hit the front early in the stretch in the nine-furlong Durham Cup, but was outrun in the final furlong by Pool Play. Regular rider Chantal Sutherland has a great deal of admiration for Ice Bear, a Mac Benson-trained 5-year-old.

"I really love him," said Sutherland. "He's the most consistent, wonderful horse you could ever have. Mac has him in such good order. I'd like to say that he only runs for me, but I think he runs for anybody."

Ice Bear captured the Grade 3 Eclipse Stakes in June, which was one of two 1 1/16-mile wins for him this year.

"I think his favorite distance is a flat mile, or a mile and a sixteenth," said Sutherland.

Palladio was Canada's champion 3-year-old in 2005, when he took the Grade 2 Ohio Derby. He won the Grade 3 Seagram Cup Stakes following a six-month layoff here Aug. 3. Two starts ago, in the Grade 3 Washington Park Handicap at Arlington, Palladio raced wide in fifth throughout in a Polytrack route that featured a pedestrian pace.

"The race at Arlington was a joke," said trainer Roger Attfield. "It was a totally false pace, and everybody miscalculated."

Alezzandro, the 2007 Prince of Wales Stakes winner, stalked the pace on the outside before flattening out to finish fifth in the Durham Cup. He was previously in solid allowance form.

Stunning Stag had been idle for 10 months when he ran fourth behind Ice Bear in a lucrative allowance Sept. 11. Eleven days ago, he cut back to seven furlongs and trounced a field of Ontario-breds in the Mt. Sassafras Stakes.

Crown Isle, the lone 3-year-old in the lineup, won the nine-furlong Ontario Derby in September, which was his second stakes score of the year. Unlike all of his opponents, he has yet to crack 90 on the Beyer Figure scale.