05/01/2008 12:00AM

Plate prospects resume rivalry


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Arch-rivals Stuck in Traffic and Not Bourbon will continue on their journey toward the June 22 Queen's Plate on Saturday at Woodbine in the $150,000 Queenston Stakes.

The speedy Stuck in Traffic, a four-time winner in eight starts, has won three of his four meetings with Not Bourbon.

In their last head-to-head confrontation, on April 12 in the Achievement Stakes, Stuck in Traffic set a rapid pace on a clear lead, while Not Bourbon tracked him in second. Not Bourbon looked poised to take control at the head of the stretch, but Stuck in Traffic dug in and persevered to win by three-quarters of a length. He was awarded a 97 Beyer Figure, and his time of 1:08.62 was just .06 of a second off the six-furlong Polytrack record.

Trainer Nick Gonzalez described Stuck in Traffic as a freak of nature.

"He's not a big, good-looking horse, and his conformation isn't great, either," Gonzalez said. "Sometimes, you get those freaky horses who just run - that's all they know. When you don't have the conformation and the physical stature, you've got to have other things to overcome it. He's got natural ability and a big heart. He could run a 44 half right from the time he was a baby."

Not Bourbon beat Stuck in Traffic in the six-furlong Bull Page Stakes in October, but then wound up fourth behind him in the Nov. 14 Frost King Stakes. Not Bourbon's first start of the year in the Achievement delighted trainer Roger Attfield.

"I thought it was a tremendous race," Attfield said. "He got a little colicky coming off the van from Kentucky, and I wasn't going to run him, but he was doing so good that I changed my mind. He rated nicely, and it was a good horse that beat him."

Not Bourbon worked a half-mile in 47 seconds last Wednesday, the fastest of 43 moves at the distance.

"He went very nicely, very easy," said Attfield.

The seven-furlong Queenston for Ontario-bred 3-year-olds will mark the season debut for Kesagami, who won the nine-furlong Coronation Futurity in early November.

Trained by Sid Attard, Kesagami has been idle since finishing seventh in the Nov. 24 Display Stakes.