08/04/2005 11:00PM

Barbeau Ruckus fresh threat in Shepperton


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Barbeau Ruckus has been a force to reckon with in Ontario Sire Stakes throughout his career, winning five such events under the careful management of trainer Ross Armata.

But, strangely enough, Barbeau Ruckus has never before competed in the Shepperton, a 6 1/2-furlong stakes for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward that drew a field of nine and will be the $125,000 supporting feature Sunday at Woodbine.

"Things just didn't work out that way," said Armata, who has sent out Barbeau Ruckus to win 10 of 29 career starts and $862,459.

Barbeau Ruckus, a 6-year-old gelding, has seen action just twice this season, facing Ontario-sired opposition in the six-furlong New Providence here May 14 and in the 1 1/16-mile Steady Growth on June 11.

In the New Providence, Barbeau Ruckus experienced traffic problems before finishing second to Mister Coop. But Barbeau Ruckus turned the tables on Mister Coop in the Steady Growth, where he appeared to be beaten after surrendering the lead at the top of the stretch but battled back to prevail by a neck.

Although Barbeau Ruckus has not run for eight weeks, Armata said the plan always was to go directly to the Shepperton.

"This is what we were aiming for," said Armata. "We figured we would stay with the Ontario-sired program. He's in good order; he loves to run fresh."

Mister Coop, also a 6-year-old gelding, will be making his third Shepperton appearance, having finished fourth in 2003 and third last year.

After trading decisions with Barbeau Ruckus, Mister Coop faced open company in the 6 1/2-furlong Bold Venture here July 9 and was a respectable fourth, beaten four lengths.

"The track last time was favoring speed," said Danny Vella, who took over as Mister Coop's trainer this spring. "It really wasn't that bad a race. Those were the top sprinters here."

Sophia's Prince, yet another 6-year-old gelding, has been very sharp while going undefeated in two starts this year.

Crease Infraction, another "now" horse, is perfect in two starts since being claimed for $40,000 by trainer Vinnie Tesoro here June 16. Crease Infraction finished fifth in the Shepperton last year.

Forever Grand, the 2003 Shepperton winner and the top money winner in this field with $1,011,390, has been in and out this year but would be dangerous if he fires his best shot.