04/17/2002 11:00PM

Wild Whiskey ready to take another shot at Rare Friends

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The speedy duo of Rare Friends and Wild Whiskey, first and second, in the restricted Achievement Handicap, will renew their rivalry in the Woodstock Stakes on Saturday at Woodbine.

Five other 3-year-olds were entered in the six-furlong race, which is worth $136,750.

Rare Friends, last year's champion 2-year-old in Canada, has been hindered by a quarter crack this year, but has coped more than adequately. A son of Helmsman, Rare Friends missed a work prior to the March 31 Achievement, but got the job done as the 122-pound highweight, sitting just off front-running Wild Whiskey on the backstretch before drawing off for a 2 1/2-length score.

"I honestly didn't think he was 100 percent ready for that race," trainer Bob Tiller admitted. "I can't use that excuse this time."

Rare Friends drilled five-eighths in 58 seconds over the main track April 12, easily the fastest work at the distance that day.

"He worked great," Tiller said. "He went a little faster than I wanted him to, but he did it easily enough. We had to repatch his foot this week," he added, "but he's doing fine. He didn't miss any training for this race."

David Clark will break Rare Friends, the 124-pound highweight, from post 2.

The pace scenario could be slightly different Saturday, with Wild Whiskey drawn outside of his nemesis in the 3-hole. Trainer John Ross said he would like to see Wild Whiskey rate kindly just off Rare Friends in the early going.

"Rare Friends sat perfectly off of us last time," Ross pointed out. "He had the chance to relax more than we did, but [Wild Whiskey] might have a little better chance to relax this time. He needs a little more seasoning."

Wild Whiskey won his only other race, a six-furlong maiden special, here Nov. 3.

Ross was pleased with the way Wild Whiskey worked on Tuesday - a half-mile in a bullet 47 seconds under jockey Ray Sabourin.

"Ray said he felt real good," Ross noted. "I delayed the work a few days because the track was bad from all the rain we had. I wanted to work him five-eighths, but I had to back it down."

Ross won't be present for the Woodstock. He will be at Keeneland on Saturday to saddle his stable star, Tampa Bay Derby runner-up Tails of the Crypt, in the Grade 2 Coolmore Lexington Stakes.

Rounding out the Woodstock lineup will be Molly's Wisdom, Mapp Hill, Mighty Quinn, Anglian Prince, and Davids Expectation.

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