10/11/2002 11:00PM

Much at stake in Carotene

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Hot Talent, who suffered her first loss last time out in the Ontario Colleen Stakes, will try to regroup as the probable favorite in Monday's $161,250 Carotene Stakes at Woodbine.

Five other Canadian-bred 3-year-olds fillies were entered in the nine-furlong race, which could have Sovereign Award implications in the turf filly or mare division.

Hot Talent won her first three starts for trainer Malcolm Pierce, including the 1 1/4-mile Wonder Where Stakes, the third leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara.

Hot Talent was made the 3-5 favorite under Todd Kabel last time out in the Aug. 25 Ontario Colleen. She raced five lengths off the early lead in the one-mile handicap, before mounting a steady wide rally to finish a neck behind Strait From Texas, who made an explosive move on the turn to steal the race.

"She had a few excuses in her last race," Pierce said. "The cutback in distance, and Kabel probably should have let her run a little earlier because she doesn't have a big turn of foot.

"I think this will be a good race for her," he added. "She's had some time off. She worked well last weekend, and she's ready to roll."

Pierce believes a strong showing from Hot Talent will boost her chances for the Sovereign Award.

"There could be a lot on the line," Pierce said. "There's been no outstanding turf filly this year, and I would think she would be under consideration for the Sovereign Award, if she were to win on Monday. I also have her nominated to the Valley View Stakes at Keeneland [on Oct. 19], in case something happens here, and she didn't get to run."

Hot Talent will be coupled in a Stronach Stable entry with Winning Chance, a Roger Attfield-trained main-track specialist.

Completing the Carotene lineup will be Silver Nithi, First Quarter, Heyahohowdy, and Atlantic Fury.

Heyahohowdy, who is unbeaten on the grass, also has a shot at the Sovereign. She has won two Ontario sire stakes this year, the Passing Mood and the La Prevoyante, earning a 96 Beyer Speed Figure on soft ground in the La Prevoyante.

"She likes the dirt, but she's much better on turf," said Shane Ellis, who has ridden Heyahohowdy in all six of her outings for trainer Norm DeSouza.

Silver Nithi, trained by David Bell, captured the middle leg of the Triple Tiara, the Bison City Stakes at Fort Erie. She was fourth against older opponents in her last grass start in the Grade 2 Canadian Handicap.