09/27/2007 11:00PM

Canadian Triple Crown rivals meet again

EmailETOBICOKE, Ontario - Alezzandro and Mike Fox, the winners of the first two legs of this year's Canadian Triple Crown, will clash over nine furlongs in Sunday's $150,000 Ontario Derby at Woodbine.

Alezzandro was overtaken by Mike Fox in the final strides of the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate here on Polytrack, and he led throughout the second Triple Crown race on dirt, the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie. He established a fast pace before fading to sixth in the final leg of the series, the 1 1/2-mile Breeders' Stakes, on turf.

Trainer Kevin Attard said he decided to give Alezzandro a break after the Breeders'.

"I sent him to the farm for a couple of weeks," Attard said. "We brought him back in, and we've been gearing towards this race."

Alezzandro breezed three-quarters of a mile in a sizzling 1:11 on the Polytrack last Sunday.

"I was quite pleased with his last work," Attard said. "I timed him galloping out seven-eighths in 1:24.40. He's heading into the race in great order. It will be interesting to see him cut back to a mile and an eighth, which is probably the farthest that he wants to go."

Mike Fox used an optional-claiming score as his final tune-up for the $1 million Plate, which he won as a 15-1 outsider, getting a Beyer Speed Figure of 90. He subsequently ran fourth in the Wales and fifth in the Breeders'.

Trainer Ian Black said Mike Fox bled in the Breeders', so he gave him a break with the cooler fall weather and the Ontario Derby in mind.

"He was turned out at Kinghaven Farm for almost three weeks," Black said. "He came back here, and I breezed him a couple of half-miles, a five-eighths, and then a slow half this week. He's been training well."

Mike Fox's four career victories have all come over Woodbine's Polytrack.

"He's won his last two starts on the Poly," Black pointed out. "For now, I'd like to think that it's his best surface."

Black's main concern is that Alezzandro will get an uncontested lead, and he is hoping that New York invader Sahara Heat presses him early.

Sahara Heat set a dawdling pace while capturing the Grade 3 Marine Stakes here in May. He was beaten double digits in each of his next two outings, the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows and the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, a Grade 2 turf stakes at Saratoga, during which his right rein broke.