10/01/2009 11:00PM

Ice Bear and Palladio clash in Durham Cup


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Ice Bear and Palladio, two of Woodbine's leading older runners, will meet over nine furlongs on the Polytrack in Sunday's Grade 3, $150,000 Durham Cup Stakes.

Ice Bear captured his second start of the year, the Grade 3 Eclipse Stakes, defeating last year's champion older male, Marchfield, in the 1 1/16-mile race. Ice Bear failed to stay 1 1/4 miles July 1, when fifth in the Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes. He rebounded with a narrow loss as the pacemaker in the nine-furlong With Approval Stakes in August.

Most recently, on Sept. 11, Ice Bear closed wide from mid-pack to polish off an accomplished field in a classified allowance.

Trainer Mac Benson said he had considered running Ice Bear in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile Sept. 20, a race the gelding ran fourth in last year. The mare Ventura won the race this year.

"When we saw how tough it was coming up, we thought that we didn't want to waste a race," said Benson. "It was a crackerjack race."

Chantal Sutherland, who has 4 wins from 8 mounts on Ice Bear, has the call Sunday.

"Chantal gets along with him very well," Benson said.

Palladio was Canada's champion 3-year-old in 2005, when he won the Grade 2 Ohio Derby and the Ontario Derby. He captured last year's Durham Cup over Marchfield and Artie Hot.

Palladio had an unproductive winter campaign in Florida, and was coming off a six-month vacation when he took the Grade 3 Seagram Cup Stakes here Aug. 3. Last time out, in the Grade 3 Washington Park Handicap at Arlington, he raced wide in fifth throughout. That Polytrack route featured an extremely slow pace.

"The race in Arlington was a joke," said trainer Roger Attfield. "It was a totally false pace, and everybody miscalculated. They went three-quarters of a mile in 1:19, and everybody took back."

American shippers Gran Estreno and Tiz Late are also in the nine-horse Durham Cup field.

Gran Estreno won the 1 3/16-mile Washington Park after making all the running. It was his sixth consecutive victory. Tiz Late has won 3 of his 4 starts this year, and all were on the Tapeta surface at Presque Isle Downs.