08/04/2005 12:00AM

'Scooter' on rival's home turf


SHAKOPEE, Minn. - Handicappers who include the homefield advantage in their assessment of a runner's chances are presented with an interesting puzzle when Chicago shipper Scooter Roach meets Dontbotherknocking on his home course in Saturday's $75,000 John Bullit Handicap at Canterbury Park. A 1 1/16-mile turf contest, the John Bullit is named in honor of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame runner who dominated turf racing here in the 1980's.

, a 6-year-old Illinois-bred gelding, merits favoritism in the John Bullit. He turned in his best performance last season when he took the Grade 3 Carey Memorial at Hawthorne, and validated that form in Florida this winter with a third, beaten three-quarters of a length, in the Grade 2 McKnight, and a fourth, beaten 1 1/2 lengths, in the Pan American. After finishing second in the restricted Black Tie Affair Stakes at Arlington in June, Scooter Roach demonstrated he may be cycling back to his best form with a win over optional claiming foes last month there. Trainer David Kassen brings in Scooter Roach's regular rider, Jesse Campbell, for the John Bullit.

, trained by Bernell Rhone, has faced Scooter Roach before. The winner of last year's John Bullit, Dontbother-knocking was upset by a free-running longshot when second in the Brooks Fields Stakes in June, his first start on the turf this season following a seven-month layoff. Sent to Chicago for his next start, Dontbotherknocking finished fourth, beaten 3 1/4 lengths, in the optional claiming contest captured by Scooter Roach last month. A winner of 6 of his 9 starts on the Canterbury turf, Dontbotherknocking has never missed the board while racing on the grass here. Scott Stevens will ride.

Canterbury Park chairman Curtis Sampson and partners Joyce and Wally McNeil will be represented by Wally's Choice. Wally's Choice overcame a tepid pace to prevail over statebred rivals in the Blair's Cove Stakes last month and should have solid early fractions to run at this time. Martin Escobar rides Wally's Choice, who is trained by Mike Biehler.

, owned by the Team Valor Stables and trained by Ralph Nicks, made all the pace to beat claiming rivals by daylight on turf at Churchill Downs last month.