01/10/2006 1:00AM

Lake claim returns at winning level


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The resounding win by Achilles of Troy in last Saturday's Count Fleet Stakes was another reminder that a good 3-year-old can come from anywhere. While there may not be any 3-year-olds with that kind of talent in Thursday's featured eighth race, six of them were good enough to run at Saratoga last summer, and three subsequently ran in open stakes.

All told, a field of 11 entered the six-furlong optional claimer, headed by the first three finishers from a similar sprint on Dec. 14: Time to Grow Up, Out of Rock, and Skip Along Jet.

ran twice on the inner track during the span of a week earlier at the meet and showed high speed each time. He set a fast pace and was nailed in the final strides of a $50,000 claimer on Dec. 8, and six days later carried his speed from gate to wire when claimed for $75,000 by trainer Scott Lake.

Entered back at the same level, but for the one-other-than condition this time, Time to Grow Up will again be the one to catch as he breaks from the rail with leading rider Eibar Coa.

was a fast-closing second to Time to Grow Up in his first start at the meet, and finished just a neck behind. A similar effort by Out of Rock will be enough to contend on Thursday, and though he has had a difficult time putting good races together, two of his poor races may have been attributable to disliking wet racetracks.

, who ran this field's top Beyer Speed Figure (91) in his maiden victory at The Meadowlands, was beaten about three lengths by Time to Grow Up and Out of Rock last out, but there are reasons to think he may be a tougher customer this time. He chased three wide on an inside-speed favoring track that day, and gets a favorable nine-pound swing in the weights for the rematch.

Among the others entered are Jimmy's Pride and Friendly Torpedo, who showed some ability in the fall.

finished last at 3-5 in a Laurel Park allowance when he last raced on Nov. 13 for trainer Robert Bailes. He is first-time Lasix for his 3-year-old bow.

has also been sidelined since Nov. 13, when he stumbled at the start of the Huntington Stakes and trailed throughout. Before that, he broke alertly and won back-to-back sprints on the front end for trainer Todd Pletcher.