10/31/2006 12:00AM

Same races in name only


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – High winds forced the cancellation of racing last Sunday at Woodbine, and the rescheduling of the two stakes from that card has spiced up Thursday’s 10-race program.

The $125,000 Bunty Lawless and the $100,000 Labeeb were both scheduled for a mile on the grass, but have been switched to a mile and 70 yards on the Polytrack, which has changed the complexion of both races.

Millfleet would have been the one to beat if the Bunty Lawless, which he won in 2004, was still on grass. His versatility is one of his strengths, however, and he remains a solid contender on the Polytrack, even though he finished a distant seventh in his debut on the synthetic surface in the Overskate Stakes.

He was a troubled third in the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes at seven furlongs in August, behind top local miler Le Cinquieme Essai and Becrux, who subsequently captured the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile.

Trainer Mike DePaulo said Millfleet was headstrong in the Play the King.

“He was trying to run over top of horses,” DePaulo said. “I guess he decided that it was time to go when he saw a hole, so off he went. He didn’t care what was in front of him.”

Because of that taxing effort, DePaulo believes Millfleet bounced when he finished seventh in the restricted Overskate Stakes on the Polytrack Sept. 20. He is content with the way Millfleet has trained since then.

DePaulo also entered Another Ascot, who found new life after discovering the grass in the summer. “He should run well, but his preferred surface is probably the grass,” DePaulo said.

The lone mare in the field, Sheer Enchantment, and improving 3-year-old Rye on the Rocks also do their best running on turf.

Arch Hall, the most accomplished dirt runner in the lineup, was a distant fourth in the Overskate the only time he tried the Polytrack.

Atlas Shrugs, a successful closing sprinter, defeated $80,000 claimers over six furlongs in his debut on the all-weather track Oct. 9.

Just Rushing main speed in Labeeb

Just Rushing has won his last six races over three different surfaces, including the seven-furlong Mt. Sassafras Stakes on the Polytrack. He was probably going to be scratched by trainer Sid Attard if the Labeeb had remained on the grass, but with the surface change, he figures to be the lone speed and a solid favorite.

There are two gifted turf specialists in the Labeeb, French Beret and El Prado Rob.

French Beret was recently second in perhaps the toughest allowance race of the meeting, from which Eccentric exited to take the Grade 3 Fayette at Keeneland.