07/14/2008 12:00AM

Stuck in Traffic heads Deputy Minister

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The rivalry between Stuck in Traffic and Not Bourbon reached a fork in the road during the spring, when Not Bourbon went long en route to a Queen's Plate victory.

Stuck in Traffic took the easier road, and has evolved into the leading 3-year-old sprinter at Woodbine. He will be heavily favored against Ontario-sired opposition Wednesday in the $125,000 Deputy Minister Stakes at seven furlongs on the Polytrack.

Stuck in Traffic led throughout his season opener in the six-furlong Achievement Stakes, beating Not Bourbon by three-quarters of a length while registering a career-high 97 Beyer Speed Figure. He went too fast on the lead in the seven-furlong Queenston Stakes on May 3 and weakened, finishing five lengths behind Not Bourbon in second.

Stuck in Traffic won his grass debut June 11, in the six-furlong Bold Ruckus Stakes, in which he set slow fractions under David Clark en route to a comfortable win.

Trainer Nick Gonzalez believes Stuck in Traffic's unfamiliarity with the Woodbine turf course might have been the reason why he relaxed so nicely in the Bold Ruckus.

"David said he was looking around, and never knew where he was," Gonzalez said. "I like the way he went on the turf. He was just skimming across it."

Gonzalez also was thrilled with Stuck in Traffic's June 30 breeze in 1:00.20 on the Polytrack with Clark in the saddle.

"David said it was the best he ever rated in a work," Gonzalez said. "He went real easy and finished up great. Usually, he's like a wild man going to the pole when the pony turns him loose.

"The Deputy Minister is seven-eighths, and you can't run flat out like he's done before and go a half in 44 seconds. He's going to have to be able to finish."

Gonzalez also entered Delaforce, a recent allowance winner at seven furlongs in Ontario-sired nonwinners-of-three company.

Delaforce captured the slowly run Kingarvie Stakes in December, from which several contenders were scratched at the gate, including Stuck in Traffic.

Kinshasa's Paradis won his only outing on the front end in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance for Ontario-sired stock on May 21. His owner-trainer, Paul Buttigieg, believes the son of Kinshasa doesn't need the lead in order to be effective.

Stray Cat Stride won his second and third starts in June, in maiden and then Ontario-sired allowance company, earning a Beyer in the low 80s on both occasions.