08/21/2002 11:00PM

Krz Ruckus tries for three in a row


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Krz Ruckus will seek his third straight stakes score Saturday at Woodbine, taking on Sambuca on Ice, Trailthefox, and Runaway Love in the $126,000 Shepperton, a 6 1/2-furlong dash for Ontario-sired runners.

Krz Ruckus finished second after getting cooked in a pace duel with Trailthefox in the 2001 Shepperton. He lost his first two starts this year, but then won with a gutsy front-running performance in the July 3 Overskate Stakes.

Trainer Mike DePaulo bypassed the July 20 Bold Venture Handicap with Krz Ruckus, in favor of the July 30 Blazing Sevens Stakes at Fort Erie. Sent off at 1-5 in that race, Krz Ruckus stalked Dreams Go Bye through sizzling fractions and then drew off for a 4 1/2-length win over Deputy Chris C., who could only manage third in a subsequent starter allowance.

Dino Luciani, who rode Krz Ruckus in all 18 of his starts, believes his horse didn't like the Fort Erie surface.

"I don't think he handled the track one bit," said Luciani. "He was scrambling until the quarter pole and never really ran until the last quarter. It was actually a better effort than it seems.

"I don't think he's a need-to-lead horse any more," Luciani added. "It seems like he's settling down a little."

Luciani was pleased with the way Krz Ruckus breezed five-eighths, in 1:01.40, over the training track last Saturday.

"I thought it was one of his better works," Luciani said. "We put a new piece of equipment on him - a figure-eight [noseband]. I thought it was a huge move, because he's not much of a work horse on his own."

Sambuca on Ice won the New Providence Stakes in May, but ran flat six weeks later in the Overskate, ending up three lengths back in sixth. He came from well off a fast pace, under a well-judged ride from Patrick Husbands, to win the Bold Venture, while earning a career-high 101 Beyer Figure.

Trainer Rita Schnitzler thought Sambuca on Ice was a little too fresh heading into the Overskate, and is content with the timing of this race, which comes five weeks after the Bold Venture.

"He shouldn't be too sharp at this time of year," Schnitzler noted. "He's been galloping two miles a day. The time off isn't hurting him at all. I think he's needed the five weeks, just to stay fresh for racing. He's doing well."

Trailthefox, trained by Patrick Biancone, was a fading fifth last Sunday in a Saratoga allowance race.