04/24/2003 11:00PM

So nice, they'll run it twice

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CALGARY, Alberta - A $20,300 optional claiming sprint attracted 18 entrants here Thursday morning, and racing secretary Barry McGrath's decision to split the race provides a pair of dandy co-features Sunday afternoon.

The races, which go as the sixth and seventh on the program, will showcase many of the best upper-level claimers and allowance horses on the grounds.

Derby Duke, a winner of his seasonal debut here opening weekend, and Turbo Charger, a hard-knocking 8-year-old, head the first division.

Derby Duke, a 6-year-old gelding, drew the rail, and Richard Hamel will attempt to duplicate the front-running strategy that proved successful with Derby Duke in a half-mile dash April 5.

Turbo Charger comes into his 2003 debut off a strong series of works for the high-percentage barn of Floyd Arthur. Turbo Charger won his opener in a similar race here last April, and capped his season by winning the Alberta Breeders Handicap at Northlands Park in late September.

Although a mile is his best distance, Turbo Charger's tactical speed will allow his jockey, Stephan Heiler, to gain a stalking position with him in a field not overloaded with early speed.

There will be plenty of speed in the seventh race, in which Timely Ruckus, Alberta's champion sprinter four times, faces the rapid Fussy's Kid, Robnroy, and Intore.

In his opener, Timely Ruckus broke a step slowly and finished fourth after mounting a three-wide rally. He begins from post 4 with leading rider Dave Wilson retaining the mount.