07/17/2003 12:00AM

Lake has become man with Midas touch


PHILADELPHIA - The racing season just passed the halfway mark. Scott Lake just passed 250 winners.

It has now become accepted that Lake will win many more races than there are days of the year, so nothing should surprise anybody anymore about the trainer, who just wins and wins and wins.

Still, the cases of Shake You Down and My Cousin Matt are off the charts, even for Lake.

Lake claimed the two horses for different owners. The owners put up a total of $150,000. The two horses have earned a combined $1.2 million since the claims.

Shake You Down and My Cousin Matt ran one-three in last Saturday's $500,000 Smile Sprint Handicap, the culmination of Calder's brilliantly designed Summit of Speed.

My Cousin Matt, a 4-year-old gelding, was taken for $85,000 on Sept. 25, 2002. Since then, he has won two stakes and placed in three others.

In his last two races before the claim, My Cousin Matt got Beyers of 98 in a pair of impressive victories. He got a 103 in his first race after the claim. Since then, he has gotten Beyers of 109, 110, and 113.

In eight starts for Lake, My Cousin Matt has won more than $500,000. And he isn't nearly the best horse in the barn.

Shake You Down, a 5-year-old gelding, was claimed by Lake for $65,000 on March 12. He got a 92 Beyer in a neck loss that day.

A month later, Shake You Down appeared in an allowance race, won by 7 1/2 lengths and got a 118 Beyer. He got another 118 two weeks later. Two weeks after that, Shake You Down won the Bold Ruler Handicap with a 113. Then, he won the True North Breeders' Cup Handicap with a 108. Thus, even though the horse was winning, it appeared that Shake You Down might have been going the wrong Beyer way. Wrong, way wrong.

Shake You Down won the Smile by eight lengths. He got a 121 Beyer.

Shake You Down is 5 for 5 for Lake. He has won almost $700,000 in those five starts.

Lake claims Leave It to Beezer and B Flat Major won a ton of money, but not this fast.

"These two, they top it all so far,'' Lake said.

So what changed?

"We just did all the normal things for them,'' Lake said.

What did he like about the horses?

"We thought he was really improving,'' Lake said of My Cousin Matt. "We didn't think he would get this far.''

As for Shake You Down, Lake said "we thought he would be a high-priced claimer, maybe win a small stakes in Maryland.''


"We got him a week before I left for Dubai,'' Lake said. "I did not see him for three weeks He put 150 pounds on. His coat changed. He went from going out there and galloping like a plow horse to ripping the kid out of the saddle when you were trying to gallop him.''

The rest is racing history.

Bobby Frankel probably is going to break all the records this year. Earnings. Stakes. Graded stakes.

Even Frankel, the former "King of the Claimers" never did anything like Lake has done with Shake You Down and My Cousin Matt.

This weekend, Lake will be at Canterbury Park, where he will start four horses in the Claiming Crown. He has already won a record six Crown races. He nearly won the Breeders' Cup Sprint last year with Thunderello.

And in 2020 when Lake becomes the trainer for Juddmonte Farms, does anybody doubt that all those records Frankel set way back in 2003 will be in serious jeopardy?