03/23/2002 1:00AM

Woodbine: Wake at Noon wins

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Favored Wake at Noon overhauled 18-1 shot Balancethebudget in deep stretch to capture Saturday's $101,800 Briartic Handicap, Woodbine's opening day feature.

Balancethebudget led the way in the five-furlong dash after the expected pacemaker, Olympian, stumbled at the break. Balancethebudget zipped a quarter in a wind-assisted 21.21 seconds, and had clear lead at the eighth pole, but Wake at Noon wore him down and prevailed by three-quarters of a length. Mr. Epperson was third in the five-horse field.

Said winning rider Emile Ramsammy: "When I saw Balancethebudget in front, I thought I had a good shot, because he tends to get 'late' at the end of most of his races."

Wake at Noon ($4.30) covered the distance in 56.48 seconds, about two-fifths of a second off the track record. He earned $61,080 for owner Bruno Schickedanz and trainer Abraham Katryan.