11/28/2002 1:00AM

Cheap Talk has rewarded Tiller's work


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Cheap Talk, a major contender in Saturday's $137,500 Kennedy Road Stakes, is one of the great success stories of the 2002 Woodbine meeting.

Owner-trainer Bob Tiller paid just $2,700 for Cheap Talk as a yearling, and subsequently gave half of him to his assistant, Tom Lottridge. After going unraced last year at 2, Cheap Talk has earned nearly $300,000 for Lottridge and Tiller, who said he almost gave away the quirky New York-bred at one point.

"At first, we couldn't get him around the racetrack because he would bolt at the three-eighths pole," Tiller recalled. "We were ready to give him away a year and a half ago. He was a very immature 2-year-old, who has turned into one of the better sprinters in the country."

Tiller said training Cheap Talk in company has been the key to the gelding's remarkable development.

"We always put him in the middle of two horses, with full-cup blinkers on, when he gallops," Tiller said. "That's what got him going. He got loose the other day, but he's learned a lot. He has a great desire to run."

Cheap Talk has won both of his outings in allowance company since ending up second to Wake at Noon twice in September, including in the Grade 3 Highlander Handicap.

Cheap Talk is a Sovereign Award finalist for champion sprinter, along with two of his Saturday rivals, Wake at Noon and Krz Ruckus.

Wake at Noon is odds-on to take the Sovereign, and is also a horse of the year candidate. A millionaire, Wake at Noon captured the 2000 Kennedy Road, and has won four stakes this year. According to his trainer, Abraham Katryan, Wake at Noon lost all chance last time out, when he was bumped at the break in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint at Arlington.

"I don't think he had a fair shot, because he got wiped out leaving the gate," Katryan noted.

Katryan is thrilled with Wake at Noon's outside draw in the eight-horse Kennedy Road field. "It should put him in a perfect position, where he can chase the speed on the outside," he said.

Krz Ruckus, trained by Mike DePaulo has won three restricted stakes this year, two at seven furlongs. He has a solid record at six furlongs, the Kennedy Road distance.

Krz Ruckus should be breathing down the neck of the rapid little filly Dreams Go Bye in the early stages, with Cheap Talk and Wake at Noon in hot pursuit.

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