09/30/2007 11:00PM

Artie Hot extends his season with upset

EmailETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sunday's $151,200 Ontario Derby was billed as a Sovereign Award showdown between Prince of Wales winner Alezzandro and Queen's Plate winner Mike Fox.

However, no one cleared the script with Artie Hot, an unheralded gelding who came flying up the inside to leave the favorites struggling in his wake.

Artie Hot's trainer of record, Nick Gonzalez, was not even present as he was taking care of business with his Fort Erie division while his wife and assistant, Martha, did the honors here at Woodbine.

"I was raising Cain," said Gonzalez, who cheered on Artie Hot from one of the lounges at Fort Erie. "Realistically, I'd have been proud of him if he ran third behind those two horses.

"When he slipped through on the inside, I knew he was going to win. He was the only one that had any momentum."

Artie Hot, claimed for $30,000 at Gulfstream this winter, was making his ninth subsequent start and became a stakes winner for Gonzalez and owners Carlo and Lou Tucci.

"He's run 21 times now, without stopping, since he was a 2-year-old," Gonzalez said. "I kept saying 'We've got to stop with this horse, we've got to give him a break.'

"But he's so big and hardy, and he takes his races good. This was the last 3-year-old stake around, and I thought we might as well go one more time."

Now that Artie Hot has beaten the best in his division here, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 94 that was 10 points higher than his previous top, his chances of getting that break have diminished.

"Realistically, we're probably going to shop around," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez also gave full credit to jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva, who was riding Artie Hot for the first time.

"He's the kind of horse you've got to ride just right," said Gonzalez, who has attributed many of Artie Hot's defeats to bad trips and bad luck. "Things have to go his way."

Both Alezzandro, who was beaten 4 1/4 lengths as the runner-up, and Mike Fox, who ended another half-length back in third, acquitted themselves well enough in defeat.

"I'm a little disappointed," said Kevin Attard, who trains Alezzandro. "He ran his race, but the winner ran the race of his life, and the track's been a little funny lately."

Ian Black, who trains Mike Fox, echoed Attard's sentiments.

"I thought he ran his race," Black said. "He was in the right spot at the right time. But he couldn't get by Kevin's horse, and the winner blew by them like they were tied to a pole."

The Ontario Derby probably was the final start of the season for both Alezzandro and Mike Fox.

"He's had a splint that's been nagging him a bit, so we'll give him a break and get him looked after," Attard said of Alezzandro.

Black pointed out that Mike Fox has had no break to speak of between his 2- and 3-year-old campaigns.

"I don't see any options for him that make much sense," Black said.

Owner enjoys success with juveniles

Much has been made, and rightly so, of trainer Mark Casse's success this season, particularly on the 2-year-old front.

And one owner who has clearly enjoyed the ride is Charles Laloggia, whose filly Officer Cherrie notched her second stakes win here in Saturday's Grade 3, $247,000 Mazarine Breeders' Cup Stakes.

Officer Cherrie is one of three 2-year-old fillies that Laloggia, a 56-year-old semi-retired investment analyst who lives in Rochester, N.Y., has here with Casse.

The others are Clearly Foxy, who recorded her second win in as many starts in the Grade 3 Natalma at one mile on turf on Sept. 9, and Lickety Lemon, who suffered her first defeat when making her third start in that same race.

Officer Cherrie and Clearly Foxy are the leading contenders for the Sovereign Award in the division.

"It makes you feel like the luckiest person in the world," said Laloggia, whose only other horse is the maiden New York-bred 3-year-old Chief for a Day with trainer Bruce Levine at Belmont.

Laloggia's introduction to the racing game came some 30 years ago with Fought, a cheap claimer whom he bought privately and who was his first winner.

"From there, not a year went by when I didn't have one or two horses," Laloggia said.

The owner's first flirtation with racing fame came courtesy of Key West Breeze, a 2-year-old colt he had purchased privately following his debut in 2005 and then won his maiden at Churchill Downs for trainer Patrick Byrne.

Key West Breeze made his next start at Woodbine, finishing second at 2-5 in the Colin Stakes.

"I thought it was the closest I was ever going to get to the big-time races," Laloggia said. "I decided to appreciate that I'd had that chance; that that was probably it."

Laloggia now was thoroughly hooked, however, and with the encouragement of his friend Tim Kegal, a bloodstock agent, he began to buy unraced horses.

The Casse connection was forged at about the same time, and Laloggia, who had been hugely impressed during his visit with Key West Breeze, was more than happy to send his horses to Woodbine.

His first sales purchases all were colts and included Skip Code, winner of last year's Grey Stakes.

The following year, Laloggia returned to the 2-year-old sales.

But now Laloggia was focusing his attention on fillies with an eye toward a subsequent breeding operation. His friend April Wayenberg already breeds show horses at her farm in the Fort Erie area.

Officer Cherrie, Clearly Foxy, and Lickety Lemon could provide a solid start.

Officer Cherrie done for season

Officer Cherrie, who also won the six-furlong Ontario Debutante and now has banked $261,400 with 3 wins in 4 starts, will not get an opportunity to add to Laloggia's ledger this season.

"She's finished for the year," Casse said. "There's not a whole lot left for her, unless we take her to the Breeders' Cup, and I don't think she's up for that right now.

"We're going to give her the winter off. I'm going to New Orleans for the first time this year, and we'll see how she stacks up down there."

Clearly Foxy, however, should get a chance to add to her credentials.

"She may go straight to the Breeders' Cup; it depends on how she trains," said Casse, who also planned to nominate both Clearly Foxy and Lickety Lemon Keenland's $150,000 Jessamine, a 1 1/16-mile turf race on Oct. 11.