11/13/2013 12:28PM

Woodbine: Alpha Bettor, Ultimate Destiny meet in rescheduled Autumn Stakes

Michael Burns
Alpha Bettor won the Seagram Cup at 1 1/16 miles, the same distance as Friday's Autumn Stakes.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Alpha Bettor and Ultimate Destiny, two contenders for this year’s Sovereign Award as champion older male, will meet in Friday’s $150,000 Autumn Stakes at Woodbine. The Grade 2 event was originally carded for last Sunday, a program that was scrapped after the first race due to high winds.

Alpha Bettor has won two graded stakes at the meet, the Eclipse and Seagram Cup, both at the 1 1/16-mile distance of the Autumn Stakes. He ran an uncharacteristically poor race in the Sept. 8 Presque Isle Mile, finishing 10th over the synthetic Tapeta surface, which he couldn’t handle, according to trainer Danny Vella.

Most recently in the Grade 3 Durham Cup, Alpha Bettor disposed of the heavily favored Delegation on the lead before holding on gamely for 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 1 1/8-mile 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 for earnings of $275,780.

Ultimate Destiny came charging late for second when he cut back to seven furlongs in the Sept. 22 Overskate Stakes. The victorious Phil’s Dream subsequently won two other stakes, including the Grade 1 Nearctic.

Ultimate Destiny came back to take the 1 1/16-mile Bunty Lawless Stakes over Pender Harbour. Owner and trainer Alec Fehr said Ultimate Destiny has been razor-sharp this fall.

“He’s been acting very fresh,” 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.”

Alpha Bettor and Ultimate Destiny each worked an easy half-mile Monday. Vella said the rescheduling of the race is hard on the trainers involved.

“You’re going into a big race, and you want to be perfectly prepared,” Vella said. “Now, with the five-day thing, you’re scrambling. Do you breeze or not breeze your horse? Everybody’s in the same boat, so I don’t know if there’s an advantage to anyone.”

Also in the Sovereign Award picture is James Street, who captured last year’s Autumn Stakes for trainer Josie Carroll and returns to defend his crown.