11/08/2013 11:17AM

Woodbine: Alpha Bettor, Ultimate Destiny in Autumn Stakes showdown

Michael Burns
Alpha Bettor holds off Delegation and James Street to win the Eclipse Stakes in spring.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Alpha Bettor and Ultimate Destiny, contenders for this year’s Sovereign Award as the champion older male, will clash in Sunday’s $150,000 Autumn Stakes at Woodbine.

Alpha Bettor has won two graded stakes at the meet, the Eclipse and Seagram Cup, which were both at the 1 1/16-mile distance of the Grade 2 Autumn. He ran an uncharacteristically poor race over the synthetic Tapeta track in the Sept. 8 Presque Isle Mile, finishing 10th under regular rider Justin Stein.

“It was a cuppier surface, and he didn’t handle it,” trainer Danny Vella said of the Presque Isle debacle. “He was spinning his wheels the whole way. Justin could feel it, so he didn’t stress him too much.”

Most recently in the Grade 3 Durham Cup, Alpha Bettor disposed of the heavily favored Delegation on the lead before holding on gamely to finish second behind a closing James Street. Vella said he was caught between a rock and a hard place regarding what tactics to employ with Alpha Bettor in that nine-furlong stakes.

“If you let [Delegation] go, you’re going to finish second,” Vella said. “If you go with him, you’re vulnerable. I think [James Street] got the trip because of what we did. It was maybe the best race that my horse has ever run.”

Ultimate Destiny has done the bulk of his damage this year against Ontario-sired opposition. He has 4 wins and 2 seconds in 6 starts this year, for earnings of $275,780.

Ultimate Destiny came charging late and ran second when he cut back to seven furlongs in the Sept. 22 Overskate. Victorious Phil’s Dream subsequently won two other stakes, most notably the Grade 1 Nearctic.

After the Overskate, jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva told trainer Alec Fehr that he rode Ultimate Destiny too confidently.

“He said he left him with too much to do,” Fehr said. “He thought he was going to catch that horse. We just needed another 10 feet.”

Ultimate Destiny came back to take the 1 1/16-mile Bunty Lawless Stakes by a neck over Pender Harbour, earning his second straight Beyer Speed Figure in the high 90s.

Fehr said Ultimate Destiny is heading into the Autumn in peak form.

“I couldn’t be any happier going in,” Fehr said. “He was a bit quieter when it was warmer during the summer. I gave him seven weeks off in between races. Since it’s gotten cooler, he’s just like he was in the spring. He’s acting very fresh.”