10/17/2001 11:00PM

Steady Ruckus ready for a repeat

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - If there were a Sovereign Award for the most improved older runner this year, Steady Ruckus would garner a lot of votes.

Steady Ruckus won his first stakes in the 2000 Bunty Lawless, but was victorious in just two of his 10 starts last year, running inconsistently.

But 2001 has been a different story for Steady Ruckus, who has won four of his seven outings under a variety of conditions, banking $208,987. Previously a turf specialist, he has handled both surfaces with precision this year under the guidance of trainer Gil Rowntree.

Steady Ruckus will be favored in this year's running of the Bunty Lawless Saturday at Woodbine. A dozen other Ontario-sired runners were entered in the one-mile turf race, which is worth $142,625.

Steady Ruckus won his second start off the shelf June 1 in an $80,000 optional claimer that was taken off the grass. He finished third on the main track a month later in the Overskate Stakes, and lost a subsequent turf allowance by a just head.

Steady Ruckus is taking a three-race winning streak into Saturday's race. He led throughout a $100,000 optional claimer going a mile on the grass Aug. 16, and earned a lifetime-best Beyer Speed Figure of 97 when he captured the 1 1/8-mile Halton Stakes on turf Sept. 3.

Most recently, in a seven-furlong allowance that came off the grass, Steady Ruckus closed with a flourish in the stretch after lacking room on the turn to score by two lengths.

"He's gotten it together this year," said Rowntree. "He's more rounded-out. He handles dirt or grass, and he's gone short or long. He's on top of his game."

Rowntree said he is not concerned with the prospect of running Steady Ruckus on less-than-firm turf Saturday.

"I don't think anything will bother him," Rowntree said. "He'll handle it all. He broke his maiden on soft turf on Queen's Plate Day a few years ago."

Jim McAleney will ride Steady Ruckus, the 124-pound highweight, who has drawn the outside post.

Completing the lineup are Bold n' Fancy, Bristol Pistol, Dance for Olga, Sun Tzu, Doug's Legacy, Starbeau, Hoptuit Bud, Hot Pepper Hill, River Boat, Hopeful Moment, Val de Dash, and Run Lil Tooch.

Bristol Pistol, one of two females in the field, rallied from well off a slow pace in the Halton to finish just three-quarters of a length back in second.

River Boat, who took the 1999 Bunty Lawless, is winless this year and recently trailed the field in the Grade 1 Canadian International.

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