08/13/2001 11:00PM

Exciting Story will try to sprint to title


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Exciting Story, the leading candidate for Horse of the Year honors in Canada, will probably stick to sprinting in the immediate future, according to trainer Mark Casse.

Exciting Story, who won the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap as the longest shot on the board May 28 at Belmont, is coming off a hard-fought second-place finish behind Trajectory here in the 1 1/16-mile Seagram Cup. He was a lackluster fifth in a classified allowance on turf in his lone start between the Met Mile and the Seagram.

Casse was relieved to see Exciting Story back on his game in the Aug. 5 Seagram.

"I thought he ran a great race," Casse said. "I was as happy as a person could be, losing. He gave the winner eight pounds, and they went the last sixteenth of a mile in six seconds flat. How often do you see that?

"He didn't get a lot out of his grass race," Casse added, "and he's not an easy horse to train."

The next main objective for Exciting Story is the Grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont on Sept. 22, according to Casse, who said there's a chance the colt could make his next start in the Grade 1 Forego Handicap at Saratoga Sept. 1.

"If I want to have any shot at the Breeders' Cup with him, it will have to be sprinting," Casse said. "Earlier in the year, I said I didn't think he could win going three-quarters, but I think the one place where he could win going three-quarters is at Belmont, because it has that big sweeping turn. You can make a run around the turn there a lot easier than at a lot of other tracks.

"If he were to run a big race in the Vosburgh, then I'd probably run him back in the Breeders' Cup Sprint," he continued. "If the Breeders' Cup seems like it's going to be too short for him, then we'll have the option of running him back in the Cigar Mile."

The Breeders' Cup Sprint will be run at Belmont on Oct. 27, while the Grade 1 Cigar Mile is scheduled for Nov. 24 at Aqueduct.

Steady Ruckus one to catch

Steady Ruckus, winner of the Buntly Lawless here last October and coming off a strong effort in classified allowance company, looks like the one to catch and beat in Thursday's $66,000 allowance-optional claiming feature.

Owned by Ed Lang and trained by Gil Rowntree, Steady Ruckus will be ridden by Jim McAleney, who won last Saturday's Breeders' Stakes with Sweetest Thing.

Completing the field for the one-mile event turf event will be Code Name Louie, Academic, Hot Pepper Hill, Red Scare, and American Falcon. Opus Won was entered for the main track only.

Armata-Molinaro-Ramsammy again

Trainer Vito Armata, owner Gino Molinaro, and jockey Emile Ramsammy were back in the winner's circle after a 2-year-old stakes here Sunday, when Platel scored a $39.40 upset over the odds-on Jealous Forum in the Ontario Debutante.

Two weeks earlier, Molly's Wisdom won the Bull Page as the prohibitive favorite for the same connections.

Platel, purchased for $38,000 at Ocala in April, was recording her second win in as many starts after making her debut with an $80,000 tag here June 28. She has won $92,520.

"Richard Hogan bought the horse for us," said Armata, citing the locally based bloodstock agent. "She really grew in the month and a half after her first race."

Armata, who does not believe in looking too far ahead with his 2-year-olds, has not assessed Platel's options. Molly's Wisdom is a Canadian-bred colt and could see action in Saturday's $135,000 Vandal, at the same six-furlong distance as the Bull Page.

West Virginia trip notes

Val de Dash, a 7-year-old gelding owned by G and G Stable and trained by Steve Owens, is back at Woodbine after finishing second in last Saturday's $58,325 West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker's Cup at Mountaineer Park.

"I was pleased with his performance," said Owens, who was sending out Val de Dash to become stakes-placed in his 24th career start. "His next stakes will be the Bunty Lawless. He might have one start in between."

The Bunty Lawless, a one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward, will be run here Oct. 20.

Vobiscum and Geraint, both owned by Kingfield Farm and trained by Catherine Day, also were part of the West Virginia Derby Day festivities, with Vobiscum finishing fourth in the six-furlong Harvey Arneault Memorial Handicap and Geraint fifth in the 1 1/16-mile West Virginia Governor's Handicap.

* Owens also reports that Legal Heir, who has been stakes-placed three times, including his last-out third-place finish behind Strut the Stage in the July 14 Toronto Cup, has undergone surgery to remove a chip in his knee and is through for the season.

* Jockey agents Mike Langlais and Glen Buttigieg are among the organizers of a horsemen's corn roast that will raise funds for the Ontario Brain Injury Association. The event will take place from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20, on a farm at 13386 Innislake Road, Brampton.

- additional reporting by Bill Tallon