08/20/2003 11:00PM

Krz Ruckus no lock

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Krz Ruckus should be favored in Saturday's $132,375 Shepperton Stakes at Woodbine, but the race is by no means a gimme for him.

Seven others were entered in the 6 1/2-furlong dash for Ontario-sired runners - Mister Coop, Wild Whiskey, Dillinger, Forever Grand, Crease Infraction, Battlements, and Sophia's Prince - and a case can be made for several of them.

Krz Ruckus, who finished second in each of the two previous runnings of the Shepperton, has been a stalwart competitor in local sprint stakes since 2001. He has captured 11 of 27 lifetime starts while banking $794,094, but is winless since taking his March 22 season opener, the five-furlong Briartic Handicap.

Krz Ruckus was outrun for his customary position on the early lead two starts back in the restricted Overskate Stakes, and ended up fourth behind the front-running winner, Mulligan the Great.

Krz Ruckus ran with Lasix for the first time in the Overskate and simply failed to fire, according to trainer Mike DePaulo.

"He didn't run his race at all in the Overskate," DePaulo said. "The Lasix might have dulled him."

Most recently, Krz Ruckus stalked the pace and finished second, again behind Mulligan the Great, in the open Bold Venture Handicap on July 19.

With the presence of speedy Wild Whiskey, DePaulo is concerned that Krz Ruckus could be caught between a rock and a hard place on Saturday.

"I expect Wild Whiskey to be in front, with my horse sitting off him," DePaulo said. "If [Wild Whiskey] doesn't get any pressure, he could win it, and if he does get some, it could set it up for a horse like Sophia's Prince, who could come running and pick up the pieces."

Sophia's Prince ran the race of his life early last month when he finished second in the seven-furlong Overskate, giving Mulligan the Great a run for his money. Sophia's Prince could only manage third as the heavy favorite in his most recent start, a six-furlong preliminary allowance, after a speed bias hurt his chances.

Trainer John LeBlanc Jr., who won the 2001 Shepperton with Hopeful Moment, said Sophia's Prince might have bounced.

"I was very disappointed in his last race," LeBlanc said. "I was considering not running him in the Shepperton, but he's turned back around again. He had a nice work the other day with me on him. He went [five furlongs] in 1:00.60 and came out of it even better again."