10/02/2003 12:00AM

Champ at home on dirt


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Wake at Noon, Canada's reigning Horse of Year, champion sprinter, and champion older horse, will seek his third straight main-track win at Woodbine in Saturday's $163,800 Durham Cup Handicap.

Wake at Noon made his mark as a sprinter before trainer Abraham Katryan ran him long in the July 20 Izvestia Stakes, which he won comfortably after setting slow fractions. He also led throughout the Aug. 3 Seagram Cup, another 1 1/16-mile stakes, while earning his second straight triple-digit Beyer Figure.

Wake at Noon reaffirmed his aversion for the grass most recently, in the Grade 1 Atto Mile, in which he trailed the 11-horse field after setting a fast early pace.

Katryan said Wake at Noon came out of the Atto in good shape. "He worked super on Monday," Katryan said. "He worked five-eighths in 59.80, and galloped [six furlongs] in 1:13. This is the best he's ever come out of a turf race."

Wake at Noon, who will stretch out to 1 1/8 miles Saturday, could have company on the lead from former stablemate Tempered Appeal, who was claimed from Katryan and owner Bruno Schickedanz for $80,000 from a front-running win in a optional claimer on Sept. 5.

Also entered in the Grade 3 Durham Cup are Barbeau Ruckus, Indy Lead, Parose, On the Game, and Anglian Prince.

Barbeau Ruckus has won four consecutive stakes, two of which came at Fort Erie. Trained by Ross Armata, Barbeau Ruckus is trying open company off a daylight score in the Elgin at 1 1/16-mile race for graduates of local yearling sales.

Armata said he believes Barbeau Ruckus isn't out of his league in the Durham Cup, which will be his first appearance in an open Woodbine stakes, since he finished third in the 2002 Victoria Park.

"He's much more relaxed this year," Armata said. "He's been rating much easier, while sitting behind the speed."

Parose rallied from off a slow pace to capture the allowance prep for this event. He never fired in his previous outing, in a Saratoga allowance, which came a month after an impressive four-length score here in a $100,000 optional claimer.

Anglian Prince, the 2002 Queen's Plate runner-up, was a non-threatening sixth in the prep, which came on the heels of a third-place finish in the Elgin.