09/19/2005 12:00AM

Million mark within reach for 'Ruckus'


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Those in Wednesday's $125,000 Overskate Stakes at Woodbine caught a break when Sophia's Prince passed the race in favor of last Sunday's Grade 1 Atto Mile. Sophia's Prince, who is unbeaten on dirt this year, would likely have been a handful in the seven-furlong sprint for Ontario-sired stock.

The venerable Barbeau Ruckus has inherited the role of favoritism in the Overskate, and would surpass the $1 million mark in earnings with a victory.

Running sporadically, Barbeau Ruckus has won three stakes and slightly more than $300,000 since last year.

Barbeau Ruckus had traffic problems in the stretch before rallying for second behind Mister Coop when he launched his campaign at six furlongs in the May 14 New Providence Stakes. He avenged that loss going 1 1/16 miles a month later, taking the Steady Growth Stakes by a neck over Mister Coop.

Barbeau Ruckus bypassed the Aug. 7 Shepperton Stakes, and won the Sept. 4 Elgin Stakes by a length over the previously unbeaten 3-year-old Ever So Free.

Trainer Ross Armata said Barbeau Ruckus had a minor problem around the time of the Shepperton, which forced him to miss the race.

Armata said he has few reservations about running Barbeau Ruckus back in 17 days on Wednesday.

"He had had a long rest going into the race, and he came back good," Armata said. "You always want a bit more time between races, but it hasn't worked out that way."

Overskate contenders Dave the Knave and Mister Coop were first and third, respectively, in the Sept. 4 Kenora Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for graduates of local yearling sales.

Dave the Knave, the lone 3-year-old in the Overskate field, has run three solid races since finishing far back in the Steady Growth on June 11. He was second in both the Achievement and Shepperton stakes, in which Sophia's Prince lowered Woodbine's long-standing 6 1/2-furlong track record.

Dave the Knave broke slowly from an outside post in the Kenora and rallied wide to win by a head, earning a lifetime-best 93 Beyer Speed Figure.

Mister Coop appeared to be uninterested early while racing along the inside in the Kenora, but he eventually closed to finish just a neck back behind Dave the Knave. He was a nonthreatening third in the Shepperton after getting bumped several times during a wide trip.