04/09/2008 11:00PM

Two top Canadian-bred 3-year-olds collide


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Stakes winners Struck in Traffic and Not Bourbon will clash Saturday at Woodbine in the $150,000 Achievement Stakes. The six-furlong sprint for Ontario-bred 3-year-olds is the first stop on the road toward the $1 million Queen's Plate.

Struck in Traffic finished third in the Sovereign Award voting for last year's champion 2-year-old. He won the six-furlong Vandal Stakes over Not Bourbon in his fourth start in August, then wound up second in back-to-back stakes, the Silver Deputy and the Bull Page.

Not Bourbon, the Bull Page winner, was favored over Stuck in Traffic in the Nov. 14 Frost King Stakes, but Stuck in Traffic won with a solid Beyer Speed Figure of 85, using his usual speedy style.

Stuck in Traffic spent the winter at Gulfstream with trainer Nick Gonzalez, where he worked in company with stakes winner Shilla.

"He had a good winter," said Gonzalez. "He grew up a little. I had no hiccups with his training."

Gonzalez believes Stuck in Traffic will have to evolve into a more laid-back runner in order to handle a route of ground on the journey towards the June 22 Plate.

"If there's ever going to be a way for him to get two turns, he's going to have to relax more," Gonzalez said. "He's not a Big Brown-type freak. He's a decent horse, but he's not a super horse.

"On the positive side, I've seen some of that in his training, from 2 to 3. Is he going to transfer that to racing when he gets in the gate with the rest of the horses? I don't know."

Without another confirmed front-runner in the Achievement field, Stuck in Traffic figures to take some catching under David Clark.

No Bourbon took the six-furlong Bull Page after an ideal outside stalking trip, but was a flat fourth in the seven-furlong Frost King.

Trainer Roger Attfield said Not Bourbon spiked a fever around the time of the Frost King.

"He didn't eat up the night before, which is very unusual for him, because he's a glutton," Attfield recalled. "Usually, that's a sign of something, but his temperature was okay. He was nervous when I saddled him, and he was washy at the gate. He just wasn't right that day."

Not Bourbon also wintered in Florida before being shipped to Keeneland, where he worked five-eighths from the gate in a bullet 59 seconds on April 1.