12/26/2009 1:00AM

Lake aims for third Gravesend

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Jim Lisa
Pashito the Che wins the James Dudley Sprint Handicap by a head at Calder for his third straight stakes victory.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Scott Lake has trained some talented sprinters in his career and ranks Pashito the Che right up there with the likes of Shake You Down, Don Six, and My Cousin Matt.

On Saturday, when racing returns to Aqueduct after a 12-day break, Pashito the Che will try to give Lake his third victory in the Gravesend Handicap over the inner track. Shake You Down (2003) and Don Six (2004) won this race when it was a Grade 3 worth $100,000. This year, the Gravesend, which goes as the third race on a nine-race card, is a listed $65,000 race.

Pashito the Che, a 3-year-old Florida-bred son of Flatter, has won 6 of 8 starts since being transferred to Lake, including his last three, all stakes. He won the Commemorate over a sloppy Belmont track in September and came back in two weeks to take the $250,000 Gallant Bob Handicap at Philadelphia Park before shipping to Calder last month to win the James Dudley Sprint Handicap for Florida-breds by a neck over Prince Joshua.

"He's awesome," Lake said. "He's just a horse that gets better every time. His attitude gets better as he matures."

Pashito the Che's last two victories have come by narrow margins. In the Gallant Bob, he beat next-out stakes winner Custom for Carlos by a nose. At Calder, Lake said it looked like Pashito the Che was going to open up, but jockey Eibar Coa told Lake "he was just playing with the other horse; he wanted to run only as hard as he had to" and won by a head.

Pashito the Che will break from post 7 under Coa and figures to get a stalking trip behind the speed of Digger and possibly Joey P. Digger, trained by Bruce Brown and owned by Repole Stables, is coupled with The Roundhouse, who also is owned by Repole but trained by Todd Pletcher.

Like The Roundhouse, Gold Trippi - who is the second horse Brown will send out in this race - may find six furlongs too short for him.

"If he's going to run good, I think he's going to need help pace-wise," said Brown, who took over the training of Gold Trippi from Stanley Hough.

Joey P. is a 12-time stakes-winning New Jersey-bred who finished second in the 2007 Gravesend. He is coming off a last-place finish in the Valley Forge Stakes at Philadelphia Park, a surface trainer Ben Perkins Jr. said Joey P. didn't seem to

handle.

Laysh Laysh Laysh and Starforaday complete the field.