04/23/2003 11:00PM

New shooter on scene

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Boston Common, winner of the Grade 2 Jerome Handicap last year, will make his much-anticipated Woodbine debut Saturday in the Grade 3, $164,700 Vigil Handicap.

The seven-furlong race has also lured Wake at Noon, Canada's reigning Horse of the Year, along with Shaws Creek, Krz Ruckus, Cheap Talk, Davids Expectation, and Forever Grand.

Boston Common, a 4-year-old owned by Richard Englander, had a sensational 2002 campaign, winning 3 of 13 starts while banking $303,177. He captured the one-mile Jerome by five lengths at Belmont in September, which came on the heels of a second-place finish to Gygistar in the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga.

Boston Common also won the Grade 3 Jersey Shore Stakes at Monmouth last year, and finished second to Thunderello in the Gallant Bob Handicap at Philadelphia Park. He has been absent since running sixth over a sloppy track in the Grade 1 DeFrancis Dash at Laurel Nov. 16.

Boston Common is based here with trainer Mike Wright Jr., who believes the horse is poised to deliver one of his better races.

"I think he's ready," said Wright. "He's trained very well into this race, but it's kind of a tough spot off the layoff. I would have preferred to have run him in a prep, but weren't many options for him."

Wright scoffed at the notion that Boston Common was sent here because he's no longer as good as he once was.

"There's definitely nothing wrong with him," Wright said. "I think the reason he's here is because Englander has other serious sprinters [in the United States] like My Cousin Matt. When you look at our program, there's so much for a horse like him here - between the stakes and the preps."

Chantal Sutherland has the mount on Boston Common, a son of Boston Harbor, winner of the 1996 Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Woodbine.

Wake at Noon, the 124-pound highweight, finished second to Exciting Story in the 2001 Vigil. He turned the tables on that rival when he won the 2002 Vigil.

Wake at Noon closed to finish fourth when he came off the sidelines on opening day in the five-furlong Briartic Handicap, a race he probably needed.

Krz Ruckus, who won the Briartic, is unbeaten in three starts at seven furlongs. He figures to set the pace while being tracked by Davids Expectation.

Cheap Talk defeated Krz Ruckus and Wake at Noon the last time he raced, in the six-furlong Kennedy Road Stakes Nov. 30.