Vosburgh S. (gr. I)

(gr. I , 7f ,)

ARTAX (DK B/ h, 126 lb) $150,000
Marquetry —Raging Apalachee , by Apalachee
B—Carondelet Farm, KY.; O—Paraneck Stable; T—Louis Albertrani

Stormin Fever (DK B/ h, 126 lb) $50,000
Storm Cat —Pennant Fever , by Seattle Slew
B—Edward P. Evans, VA.; O—Edward P. Evans; T—Mark A. Hennig

Mountain Top (DK B/ h, 126 lb) $27,500
Trapp Mountain —Turning Top , by Turn to Mars
B—Frazier & Maxwell, FL.; O—John D. Murphy, Sr.; T—William W. Perry

Margins: 3½, head, ½. Others: Intidab 126($15,000) , Crafty Friend 126($7,500) , Liberty Gold 126 . Winning Jockey, Jorge F. Chavez.

Like John Paxson of the Chicago Bulls, who didn’t have much to say in the 1993 NBA Finals until he delivered the championship-winning shot, Artax delivers only when it matters most. The 4-year-old colt has competed in 13 races in 1999, ranging from optional claimers to grade I events. Artax hasn’t bothered winning the minor contests or even the lesser stakes events. However, both times trainer Louis Albertrani has started the colt in a grade I event this year, he has run like a champion.

His latest score came in the Sept. 25 Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) over seven furlongs at Belmont Park. Artax broke last but led at every call, winning the $250,000 event by 31/2 lengths in a time of 1:21.65. His prior score this year was notched in the May 2 Carter Handicap (gr. I) when he broke Dr. Fager’s 31-year-old track record at Aqueduct, running seven furlongs in 1:20.04.

Albertrani has only conditioned Artax since March of this year, when original trainer Randy Bradshaw, based in California, took an assistant’s position with D. Wayne Lukas. The colt had captured the 1998 San Felipe (gr. II) and Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. III) under Bradshaw’s care before an injury in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) necessitated a 61/2-month layoff.

Artax’s new trainer, based in New York, shortened him up to sprint distances and the colt has alternately thrived and been plagued by poor luck. Most notable was the out-of-control patron that impeded him in the stretch in the Maryland Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. III) on May 15.

Owner Ernie Paragallo races under the nom-de-course of Paraneck Stable, a name derived from his last name and his place of residence, Lloyds Neck, N.Y. Prior to Artax, Paragallo’s best runner was Unbridled’s Song, whose victories included the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and the 1996 Florida Derby (gr. I). Paragallo, an investment banker, also has Aristotle, a multiple stakes-placed runner who captured a Delaware Park allowance event on Sept. 5, in Albertrani’s barn.

Vosburgh winners are usually among the favorites for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I), but have never won the event. In five starts at the Sprint distance of six furlongs, Artax has not won, but he does have four seconds. His lone poor finish at the distance was in the aforementioned Maryland Breeders’ Cup.

Multiple grade I winner Marquetry is the sire of Artax and six other stakes winners, including additional 1999 added-money winners Try N Express, Top Marks, and Leave a Legacy. The syndicated 12-year-old stallion stands at Vinery Kentucky, a Midway nursery purchased in the week prior to the Vosburgh by a group headed by German attorney Tom Simon. Vinery, owned at the time by Mr. and Mrs. Ben P. Walden, bred Artax in partnership with David Bernsen’s Carondelet Farm. Marquetry’s 1999 fee was $15,000.—J.W.