06/30/2002 11:00PM

Runaway Love ready for Overskate

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - At first glance, the $136,875 Overskate Stakes, an Ontario-sired race Wednesday at Woodbine, seems made to order for Runaway Love.

Runaway Love has ground out a good living here on Wednesday nights, and the seven-furlong distance of the Overskate is right up his alley.

However, Runaway Love's recent victory, in the 1 1/16-mile Steady Growth Stakes on May 24, isn't quite as good as it appears on paper, mainly because of the suspect competition. The second-, third-, and fourth-place finishers from the race all came back to disappoint in their next starts, which is more relevant than the fact that two horses from the race have since won on turf.

Runaway Love is unbeaten on Wednesdays since trainer Abraham Katryan began training him two years ago as a 3-year-old. He captured the 2000 Deputy Minister Stakes in his first try as a gelding on a Wednesday evening, and also won two Wednesday night allowance races last fall.

Katryan worked Runaway Love three-eighths in a bullet 34.60 seconds last Thursday to help sharpen his speed for the turnback in distance.

"He's as sharp as a tack right now," Katryan said. "It was hard to hand walk him Friday morning. The timing of this race is perfect," he added. "With a little time off, he's a fresh horse again, but it's not like I've been taking it easy with him. I've been working him pretty hard."

Also in the Overskake lineup are Classic Manner, Sambuca on Ice, Indian Dan, Steady Ruckus, Krz Ruckus, Devil Valentine, Mighty Quinn, Highland Legacy, and Ice Water.

Sambuca on Ice and Krz Ruckus are both contenders who might prefer a shorter sprint.

Sambuca on Ice has been one of the real success stories of the meeting. Trained by Rita Schnitzler, Sambuca on Ice has won three straight races since losing his seasonal debut by a neck, and is coming off a narrow score over Mysterious Affair in the New Providence Stakes.

Krz Ruckus was third as the favorite in the six-furlong New Providence when he launched his current campaign, and was recently a close-up fifth on turf in the allowance prep for the Nearctic Handicap. Mike DePaulo trains.

Classic Manner is the new kid on the block. A 4-year-old with just three career starts, Classic Manner romped in his second start of the meeting in an Ontario-sired allowance, winning by 3 1/4 lengths while hanging up a 101 Beyer Figure.

"He worked awesome the other day," said trainer Wray Lawrence, referring to Classic Manner's June 27 breeze in 59.40 seconds.