05/16/2003 12:00AM

Excuse rare dud by Krz Ruckus

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Nearly every consistent horse runs a clunker every once in a while, which was the case with Krz Ruckus last time out in the Grade 3 Vigil Handicap.

Krz Ruckus should redeem himself against weaker, Ontario-sired opposition going six furlongs Sunday at Woodbine in the $127,625 New Providence Stakes.

Krz Ruckus, a Sovereign Award finalist for champion sprinter honors in 2002, launched his campaign with a gutsy score on opening day in the five-furlong Briartic Handicap. He reappeared April 26 in the seven-furlong Vigil, in which dueled up front on a dead rail through fast fractions before fading to finish sixth under Dino Luciani.

Trainer Mike DePaulo said he regretted telling Luciani to preserve some of Krz Ruckus's speed in the Vigil, saying he did so because of the presence of Grade 2 stakes winner Boston Common.

"I thought Boston Common would come out smoking," DePaulo said. "I asked Dino not to send him, even though he doesn't run his best when he's not out there winging it. He might have bounced a little, too. It was his second start of the year, and he ran real good the first time."

DePaulo was ecstatic with the way Krz Ruckus worked five furlongs last Saturday.

"He breezed very well," he said. "He went in 59.20, which is fast for him."

Rounding out the New Providence lineup are Mulligan the Great, Barbeau Ruckus, Devastating, and Forever Grand.

Mulligan the Great won his first stakes last September in the Kenora, a six-furlong sprint for graduates of local yearling sales. He set easy fractions when he came off the sidelines May 3 in a seven-furlong optional claimer, and coasted home on top while earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 99.

Trainer C.C. Hopmans, who used Mulligan the Great's recent race as a prep for the New Providence, said the horse lost some training time earlier this spring.

"He spiked a little bit of a fever and missed a work," Hopmans said. "I had to get a little aggressive with him, and he was obviously tight enough when he won, but I would have been more comfortable with one more work into him."

Hopmans said Mulligan the Great has matured this year at age 4.

"He's a much calmer horse this year," Hopmans said. "He doesn't rush himself. He comes out of the gate under a loose line, and when the real running starts, he has this incredible overdrive gear."