Autumn Stakes (Grade 2)- $175.000 Purse
WO- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Dirt
November 14, 2021
Five veteran racehorses will go to post this Sunday for the 15th running of the Autumn Stakes, north of the border at WO. You’ll find higher purses out there for races with a Grade 2 classification, but it is an amount that has been mostly consistently throughout the history of the event. Past winners of the race include Bbff, Connectivity, and Soviet Warrior. Last year, the late Charlemagnes Command scored the win, something that seemed to be a last hurrah for the horse. As mentioned, there is no shortage of race experience in this field, with everyone in the field having run in at least twenty races once this one is over. Here is a look at those horses!
#1- Hollywood Eclipse (Nakamura Stables, ridden by G Boulanger)- The purse for this race was not enough to entice V R Carrasco to leave LRL, so Nakamura’s two entries will have to come from the regular jockey colony. Hollywood Eclipse has seen many riders over his 38-race career, and the majority of those starts have been in overnights. Not the last one, though, which was the Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap, where he won a graded stake for the first time, as well as his first triple digit SRF. Not always a consistent horse, though.
#2- Hang Around (Nakamura Stables, ridden by S Ryan)- This well bred gelding will make his 24th start, and like his stablemate, is here following a Grade 3 win. For Hang Around, that came in the Durham Cup, right here at WO last month for his second career graded win. The conditions for this race are similar, so if he runs like that again, there is no reason to think he can’t pull off a repeat performance. I trust this horse more than his stablemate.
#3- Gamblin Greek (30west, ridden by R M Hernandez)- While this horse has been passed around in claimers a few times, he also has made multiple ungraded stake starts, as well as one graded win. Those races are not the highlights of his past performances, and may explain why he has put in claimers, too. Mb Stables put him in for a $35.000 tag two starts after running him in the $125.000 Blame. There, he was picked up by 30west, who has run him optional claimers twice and winning both. So now it’s 30west’s turn to try and move him forward into this level.
#4- Shilin Stone Forest (Night Rider Stables, ridden by L Contreras)- This will be the 20th start for this five year old gelding, giving him a distinction he probably did not think he would see anymore of being the most lightly raced horse in a field . Night Rider picked him up in a claimer in June 2020 for $7.500, and has gradually moved him forward. Recently, he earned back to back wins in NJ-bred stakes races, which, while nice, aren’t going to be against a powerful field. He tried to take another jump to the Grade 3 Knickerbocker, and that was a disaster. That’s a turf race, though he did have plenty of grass starts in his history. Now, he will try similar back on the main track.
#5- Burning Approval (Mb Stables, ridden by S X Bridgmohan)- Not only is Burning Approval a veteran of 25 starts, he is also the highest earner in the field. It’s not even close, as you can combine the earnings of the other four and still only be a little more than half of the $2,547.480 that Burning Approval has earned. He can thank a stretch in 2019 for most of that, so is the late 2021 version at that level? Maybe not quite as good, but he does not have to be here, and with three wins in five races, he is still getting it done. His biggest victory came in August against three others in the Grade 3 Iselin Stakes. Of concern is his last race, where he was a complete non factor in the Lukas Classic. Seems like he can bounce back from that but it could keep me from picking him if he was too high a favorite.