06/19/2002 11:00PM

Speed sets up for 'Sixthirty'

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EDMONTON, Alberta - Timely Ruckus, Alberta's champion sprinter for each of the last four years, will face a formidable new foe, invader Spanish Banks, in the $40,000 Journal Handicap at Northlands Park on Saturday.

Both Timely Ruckus, who will be ridden by Stephan Heiler, and Spanish Banks, with Anthony Stephen aboard, will carry 119 pounds in the 6 1/2-furlong sprint, which attracted a field of five.

The 121-pound highweight will be Sixthirtyjoe, who runs his optimal distance in the Journal, the first stakes race of the meeting. Sixthirtyjoe's jockey will be Real Simard, who rode him all spring for a pair of scores in four outings.

Sixthirtyjoe, who likes to race from just off the pace, finished third to Timely Ruckus's stablemate, Rancour, in the 1 1/16-mile Herald Gold Plate in his latest appearance at Stampede Park.

Now 4, Sixthirtyjoe appeared to be Canadian Derby-bound last year but never made it after finishing a tired sixth in the final local prep, the 1 5/16-mile Count Lathum.

The possibility of a speed duel between Timely Ruckus and Vancouver-based Spanish Banks should suit Sixthirtyjoe just fine.

With three runner-up finishes this spring at Hastings Park, all by less than a length, Spanish Banks has five successive seconds dating back to last year.

Trainer Red Smith had planned to enter Tyko Tycoon in the Journal but had second thoughts when he noted the fractions set by Spanish Banks in his last start. "I won't take the chance of ruining my horse in a speed duel," Smith said.

Fussy's Kid and Vying Road will complete the field.