11/10/2003 12:00AM

Dash may draw 13

Benoit & Associates
Way to the Top, a New York-based sprinter, is among the expected entrants in the De Francis.

As many as 13 horses are expected to be entered Wednesday when post positions are drawn for Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park.

Shake You Down, a three-time graded-stakes winner this year and the third-place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, is expected to be a strong favorite in the six-furlong Dash. Shake You Down has won 6 of 11 starts this year, including the Bold Ruler, True North, and Smile Sprint handicaps. He was claimed earlier this year by trainer Scott Lake for $65,000.

Private Horde, who defeated Shake You Down in the Grade 2 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga after finishing second to him in the Smile, is also coming out of the BC Sprint to try the Dash. Private Horde finished ninth, 11 1/4 lengths behind winner Cajun Beat, in the BC Sprint.

The De Francis field is likely to include two runners who participated in last year's De Francis, won by D'wildcat. Deer Run, who finished second to D'wildcat and has not won in nearly 14 months, and Boston Common, who finished sixth in the 2002 De Francis, are expected to run.

In addition to Shake You Down, two other New York-based sprinters are expected to be entered in the De Francis. Aggadan, the second-place finisher in the Grade 1 Vosburgh, and Way to the Top, a recent classified allowance winner at Belmont, will take a shot.

Aggadan, trained by Richard Dutrow, breezed five furlongs Sunday at Aqueduct in 1:00.46, the fastest of 18 works at the distance. Edgar Prado, the kingpin of Maryland in the 1990's, is expected to ride.

On Monday, Way to the Top breezed four furlongs in 48.12 seconds over Belmont Park's main track, the fastest of 21 moves at the distance. It was the second consecutive bullet work for a horse trainer Bruce Levine said normally doesn't show much in the mornings. A week ago, Way to the Top breezed five furlongs in 59.65 seconds.

Levine and owner Roddy Valente claimed Way to the Top for $62,500 from trainer Jeff Mullins at Hollywood Park in June. Way to the Top has won 2 of 3 starts since the claim, with his only loss coming in a route race. Way to the Top has won his last three sprint races on dirt, earning triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in each performance.

Levine was particularly impressed with Way to the Top's last victory, in which he broke slowly, rushed up to press a loose-on-the-lead Kazoo, and then persevered past that rival in the stretch.

"His race is bigger than it looks on paper," Levine said. "He got slammed hard at the start, he had to come from last, and he did all the dirty work on Kazoo."

Levine said he thought the presence of Shake You Down would reduce the field size for the De Francis, but that does not appear to be the case.

"If you take out Shake You Down, it's all local horses," Levine said. "If they put up $75,000 they'd all be in the same race. [Shake You Down] went cross-country, ran hard in the Breeders' Cup, and has got to come back in three weeks. I guess everyone's thinking like me."

Levine said Jeremy Rose would ride Way to the Top.

Others pointing to the race include A Huevo, Crossing Point, Gators N Bears, Highway Prospector, Outstander, and Take Achance on Me. In addition to Highway Prospector, trainer Mark Shuman is likely to enter one of six other horses he has nominated to the race.

The De Francis is one of six stakes scheduled on the Saturday card. The others are the Laurel Futurity, Selima, Anne Arundel, Stefanita, and Hail Emperor stakes.