11/11/2010 1:26PM

Southdale goes for a title in Autumn Stakes

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Southdale will stake his claim for the Sovereign Award as this year’s Canadian champion older male Saturday at Woodbine Racetrack in the $150,000 Autumn Stakes.

Southdale notched a pair of Grade 3 stakes victories here this year, the Durham Cup and the Eclipse, which was contested at the 1 1/16-mile distance of the Autumn. Last time, in the slow-paced Durham Cup, he rallied inside from mid-pack to win the 1 1/8-mile race going away.

Southdale failed to fire his best shot when he experimented on the grass in a pair of Grade 2 stakes in the summer. In his only other loss this year, which came in the Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes, he wound up third after saving ground over an outside-biased track.

Trainer Ian Black said Southdale deserves to be champion of the division if he captures the Grade 2 Autumn.

“I think if he wins this one, he should get the award,” said Black. “Maybe if someone entirely different wins this, he might get it anyway.”

Black was content with Southdale’s five-furlong breeze in a bullet 59.80 last Sunday.

“He’s trained well,” said Black. “We’ve got a different rider on him, Patrick Husbands, because his other riders have gotten hurt. He breezed him last Sunday.”

Stunning Stag captured the allowance prep for this event with an eye-catching wide rally from fourth, which came three weeks after he was a flat third in the 1 1/8-mile Durham Cup. Trainer Sid Attard said Stunning Stag is more effective at distances from seven furlongs to 1 1/16 miles than he is over 1 1/8 miles.

“This horse can’t go a mile and an eighth, because the pace is so slow and he has nothing to run at,” Attard said. “Last time at a mile and a sixteenth, Gerry Olguin gave him a super ride.”

One of Stunning Stag’s best efforts came in the Sept. 10 Presque Isle Mile, in which he ran four wide on both turns before ending up third behind Gayego and Successful Dan, who came back to romp in the Grade 2 Fayette at Keeneland.

“He ran a good race there,” Attard said. “Gerry said to me that he cost us second money because he moved a little too soon.”

The Maryland shipper Smart Big is stretching out for his second start following a nine-month layoff.

This year’s Queen’s Plate winner, Big Red Mike, and Barreling Home should ensure an honest pace.