Last year, jockey Dino Luciani wondered aloud if Krz Ruckus was getting enough respect. After his performance in Saturday's $108,000 Briartic Stakes at Woodbine, that shouldn't be an issue.
Flashing a sharp early turn of foot, Krz Ruckus, with Luciani in the irons, stormed to the front in the five-furlong Briartic and turned back a persistent foe to take top honors in the feature event on opening day at the Toronto oval.
The 6-year-old Ontario-bred, who won three added-money events in 2002, showed resolve in defeating an accomplished group of seven rivals. Among those who contested the race were Canada's reigning Horse of the Year, Wake At Noon, former champion Rare Friends and Olympian, Woodbine's track record holder at five furlongs.
"He broke very well and was more than happy to be on the lead," said Luciani, of the lifetime winner of 11 races and over $700,000 in career earnings. "We just went on from there."
The son of Bold Ruckus and Olympian hooked up early, battling for the advantage. It was Krz Ruckus who seized a narrow lead along the rail, reaching the opening quarter-mile in a swift :21.52.
After a half-mile in :44.38, the battle ensued around the far turn, as the duo distanced themselves from the field, setting up a spirited duel to the finish.
At the wire, Luciani and Krz Ruckus triumphed by a length over a stubborn Olympian, in a time of :57.25, over a main track rated as "muddy."
"Actually, I kind of preferred him (Olympian) being there because other horses make him run stronger," said Luciani, who notched his third win of the day.
Trainer Mike DePaulo, who also teamed with Luciani to win with Queen's Plate-eligible Shipman on Saturday, was thrilled with the effort of his dark bay gelding.
"'Krz' ran a great race today," said DePaulo, who won 15 races in 2002. "He always gives it his best."
Triple Sovereign Award winner Wake At Noon finished fourth.
Krz Ruckus paid $8.50, $5.60 and $4.20, combining with Olympian ($11.90, $7.90) for a $146.70 exacta. Davids Expectation ($6.20) rounded out a $715.00 trifecta.
Total wagering on Woodbine's opening day showed a 9.25% increase over 2002. Including all sources, $2,331,102 was bet on the live Woodbine product, up from $2,133,676 wagered last year.