05/26/2002 11:00PM

Two under belt, Runaway Love ready to roll


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Runaway Love could be poised to take no prisoners on the front end Wednesday at Woodbine in the $142,125 Steady Growth Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired runners.

Runaway Love, winner of the 2000 Deputy Minister Stakes here in his first start as a gelding, has made two appearances at the current meeting, both in seven-furlong classified allowances. He was a retreating fifth when he came off the shelf April 5, but he fared much better on May 15, putting away two rivals on the front end before giving way grudgingly to a charging Grand End Sweep.

Trainer Abraham Katryan felt Runaway Love needed his first start back.

"It was his first race of the year, and he wasn't really cranked up," Katryan said. "I figured he wasn't tight enough after that race, so I worked him five-eighths from the gate, which I normally don't do."

Then, Katryan said, "I came back and worked him hard." He had Runaway Love, a gelding, work three furlongs in just over 34 seconds, "and he fired in his next race. He ran huge."

Katryan admits that Runaway Love is at his best traveling seven furlongs, but he noted that the horse has won around two turns. That victory came in 1 1/8-mile allowance two years ago, in the spring of his 3-year-old season.

Katryan said Runaway Love doesn't need the lead in order to be effective. "He's rateable," the trainer said. "He can sit second or third before making his move. But there's not much quality speed in this spot, so he might be in front."

Emile Ramsammy has the call on Runaway Love, who is a full brother to One Way Love, a double Sovereign Award winner in 2000 for Katryan.

Completing the Steady Growth lineup will be Exotic Red, Hot Pepper Hill, Ice Water, I and I, Val de Dash, Storm Cruiser, Thank You Sir, Geraint, Ocean Front, Bold n' Fancy, Skeete's Bay, and Queensgate.

Val de Dash could do some damage in his first outing following a seven-month absence. An 8-year-old trained by Steve Owens, Val de Dash ran just five times last year, but was victorious twice. He earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 102 winning his 2001 seasonal debut over a sloppy track in a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer.

"He'll be tough," said Owens. "He's been working very well."

Geraint, trained by Catherine Day-Phillips, was a close third behind Runaway Love on May 15. He was previously third to Wake at Noon and Exciting Story in the Grade 3 Vigil Handicap.

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