04/18/2002 12:00AM

Timely Ruckus, 9, still best bet


CALGARY, Alberta - A major prep for the May 4 Stampede Park Sprint Championship attracted five entrants and will go as the featured eighth race Saturday afternoon.

The open allowance at six furlongs carries a $20,300 purse and is headed by Timely Ruckus, who will be the favorite.

Timely Ruckus, a 9-year-old who recently was voted champion sprinter on this circuit for a record fourth consecutive time after a stellar 2001 campaign, drew post 3 for his second start of the meet. A gelding, he opened his campaign with an easy win in a half-mile allowance on opening weekend under regular rider Stephan Heiler.

His trainer Ernie Keller, whose barn has been red-hot with five victories in two weeks, will do double duty and saddle Alberta's 2001 champion older horse, Rancour. The stablemates run uncoupled.

Rancour, who established his credentials with route victories in the Westerner and Speed to Spare last fall at Northlands Park, will use this race as a stepping-stone to longer races later in the meet.

Tyko Tycoon must overcome the outside post and deal with the favorite on his inside, but he prepped smartly for his seasonal bow with a bullet five-furlong move of 59.80 seconds April 13.

Sixthirtyjoe, a 4-year-old testing tough older rivals, is worth a look at a price. The colt faced Alberta's 2001 horse of the year, Fancy As, on several occasions last year and nearly upset him in the Ky Alta in July before yielding in the final strides. He sports a strong and steady work tab.

They Call Me Cody, upset winner of the Beaufort last September, rounds out the field.

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