11/16/2006 1:00AM

Contenders all a little suspect


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Questions abound regarding Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Woodbine Slots Cup, a 1o1/16-mile stakes that has attracted a stellar eight-horse field.

Can Eccentric duplicate his impressive stakes victory at Keeneland, and will he be able to hold off his classy stablemate Pellegrino? How will sharp Vancouver shipper True Metropolitan handle a step up in class? Will the red-hot front-runners Just Rushing and Barracuda Boy hook up in a suicidal speed duel? Is Queen's Plate winner Edenwold overmatched?

Eccentric won six races over an all-weather track in England before being shipped here to trainer Roger Attfield. Eccentric finished third in a grass allowance here Oct. 8 in his first start for Attfield.

Most recently, Eccentric captured the Grade 3 Fayette Stakes over nine furlongs on Keeneland's Polytrack, an effort that Attfield said he had anticipated.

"He's a Polytrack specialist, and we were very pleased with the way he had been training," Attfield said. "Turning for home, he didn't have anywhere to run, but then he got free down inside and off he went."

Pellegrino, once a turf specialist, has run two solid races this fall over the local Polytrack, including a victory in the 1 1/4-mile Chief Bearhart.

"He loves training on the Polytrack," Attfield said. "He's a different horse on it."

The late-blooming True Metropolitan has won his last four starts, all stakes at Hastings and Northlands Park.

"He's just a 4-year-old, and I guess it took him a little while to come around," said trainer Terry Jordan. "He's pretty versatile. He'll do whatever he needs to do. This is going to be a tougher race than we expected it to be. He's hasn't been running against any real champions. The best horse he's beaten is Spaghetti Mouse, who's pretty good."

Barracuda Boy, trained by Nick Gonzalez for Stronach Stable, is the most improved runner at Woodbine this year. He won a pair of $20,000 conditioned claimers over the old main track in the spring, then took back-to-back allowances on the inner dirt track in the summer.

Barracuda Boy moved up to Grade 3 stakes company Oct. 14, and led throughout the nine-furlong Durham Cup Stakes, earning a big 103 Beyer Speed Figure.

Just Rushing, who was claimed from Stronach Stable for $40,000 by trainer Sid Attard last November, is riding the wave of a seven-race win streak. He set moderate fractions on a speed-favoring track and romped home by eight lengths in the Nov. 2 Labeeb Stakes.