10/30/2003 12:00AM

Headed south for winter

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Jimmy Jerkens, who has won at a 30-percent clip the last four Aqueduct inner-track meets, will send the bulk of his stable to south Florida this winter.

Jerkens, a son of Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens, will have 24 stalls at the Palm Meadows training center in Palm Beach while leaving about 15 horses in New York. Jerkens said the decision to go to Florida was a direct result of the miserable winter weather in the Northeast a year ago.

"My primary owners just thought it would set us up better in the long run for the rest of the year,'' Jerkens said. "We couldn't get the young horses going with the winter we had. We had a lot of quarter cracks, a lot of nagging things.''

During the 2002-03 inner-track meet, Jerkens won with 17 of 53 starters, tying him for fifth in the trainer standings. This year, Jerkens has 34 wins from 139 starters in New York.

"I am really disappointed in the number of starts we had this year,'' Jerkens said. "I think I'll make more starts next year, even though I won't have as many horses here for two months. The horses should be fresher and in a little better shape.''

Among the horses Jerkens will take to Florida are Iron Deputy, Regal Sanction, Voodoo, Smokey Glacken, Multiple Choice, and Artie Schiller. Snake Mountain, who won the Aqueduct and Stymie handicaps over the inner track last year, will remain in New York.

Jerkens said he won't ship his stable to south Florida until the second week in December. In the interim, Voodoo, the Sport Page winner, could run next in either the Fall Highweight Handicap or the Cigar Mile the last week of November. Artie Schiller, second in the Pilgrim, may try dirt in the Grade 2, $200,000 Remsen Stakes on Nov. 29.

Shake You Down to De Francis Dash

Shake You Down, who finished third in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, will make his next start in the Grade 1, $300,000 De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park on Nov. 15, trainer Scott Lake said Thursday.

Lake said Shake You Down was compromised by his inside post and a bit of a slow start in the Sprint. Lake thought that combination might have cost Shake You Down second, though he didn't think he was going to defeat Cajun Beat.

"Turning for home he had every reason to finish seventh or eighth but still ran a big race to be third.'' Lake said. "To run third with a horse you claimed isn't a bad thing.''

Last year, Lake ran Sprint runner-up Thunderello in the De Francis and the horse broke down during the running of the race.

"If you win the race, you got an outside shot at sprinter of the year, though Cajun Beat is a 3-year-old that's improving and he may deserve it,'' Lake said.

Kimmel barn heating up

What has been a disappointing year for trainer John Kimmel is staring to turn around.

Since Sept. 18, Kimmel has gone 10-3-7 from 40 starts in New York, with four of those wins coming from his 2-year-olds. Kimmel finished the Belmont fall meet with 9 wins from 51 starters to finish in a sixth-place tie in the trainer standings. Still, Kimmel is winning at just a 15-percent clip for the year.

"When you're not winning with the kind of frequency you're used to, it's tough in this business,'' Kimmel said. "It's tough to pay the bills, it's tough to keep the owners content. We've got a good staff; we haven't changed anything that we do. When you win at a 20-percent clip or more for years and years, to go down to 12 or 15 percent is lower than what I expect my operation to be at.''

Kimmel said that by design he has drastically reduced the number of horses he has in training, dropping from a high of 110 to 60.

"Some of the people that have carried more horses have cut back, and you lose a client here and there,'' said Kimmel, whose primary clients are Chester and Mary Broman.

When the New York-bred Friends Lake won the Sleepy Hollow Stakes on Oct. 18, it was the first New York stakes victory for Kimmel this year. He has a chance to add to that total this weekend when he runs Miss Linda in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Turnback the Alarm Handicap and Big Booster in Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000 Nashua Stakes for 2-year-olds.

Big Booster, a son of Accelerator, won his maiden at first asking, rallying from 12 lengths back. Kitten's Joy and Gradepoint, the second- and third-place finishers from that race, came back to win next out.

"He broke slowly that day," Kimmel said. "Hopefully, he'll learn a little something so he doesn't break so bad. He took a little dirt and went in between horses; it was nice to see he didn't seem to be intimidated by that stuff. When Richie called on him, he responded.''

Friends Lake, a New York-bred son of A.P. Indy, earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure for his 3 1/2-length win in the Sleepy Hollow. Kimmel is thinking of running him back in the Remsen Stakes on Nov. 29 before shipping him to Florida for the winter.

"He did that pretty easy, too,'' Kimmel said. "Not that many 2-year-olds can run that kind of number at a mile.''

Rare Gift, a 2-year-old filly by Unbridled's Song, won her maiden by 5 1/2 lengths on Sept. 28 at Belmont. Kimmel nominated her to Tuesday's Tempted Stakes, but is more inclined to wait for Demoiselle Stakes Nov. 29.

Gander targets Stuyvesant

Gander bounced back so well from his game runner-up finish in the Empire Classic on Oct. 18 that trainer John Terranova is pointing the 7-year-old to the $100,000 Stuyvesant Handicap on Nov. 11.

Terranova wanted to see how Gander trained following the Empire Classic, which he lost by a half-length to Well Fancied, before deciding if Gander would run again this year. The Empire Classic was Gander's sixth start of 2003. He was plagued by a sore stifle for a good part of the year, but has since recovered.

"He's pretty fresh because he hasn't run much this year and didn't run at all at Saratoga," Terranova said. "He's been training great since his last race. The Stuyvesant looks like the right spot for him; there are not many options left."

Last year, after winning the Empire Classic for the second time, Gander ran in the Grade 2 Clark at Churchill Downs and finished 10th. Terranova said he would keep an eye on how the $500,000 Clark on Nov. 28 is shaping up, but is more inclined at this point to run in the Grade 3 Stuyvesant.

Terranova said he would probably work Gander early next week at Belmont.

* Yell, winner of the Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland, worked three furlongs in 34.80 seconds over Belmont's main track Thursday morning. Trainer Shug McGaughey said Yell would make her next start in the $200,000 Churchill Downs Distaff Handicap on Nov. 8.

* Aqueduct will be open each of the next two Tuesdays (Election Day and Veterans' Day) and will be closed on the corresponding Wednesdays, Nov. 5 and Nov. 12. Entries for the Tuesday cards will be taken on the preceding Saturdays.

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson