09/09/2003 12:00AM

Shake You Down finds perfect spot


ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Scott Lake wasn't looking for the hardest race he could find to get Shake You Down back on track for next month's Breeders' Cup Sprint. He wasn't looking for a walkover, either.

It would appear Lake found exactly what he was looking for Thursday at Belmont Park as Shake You Down was entered against several stakes-caliber animals in a $56,000 classified allowance race.

Shake You Down will meet stakes winners Hook and Ladder, Super Fuse, and Papua in the six-furlong race, which Lake said would be Shake You Down's final start before the BC Sprint at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

"I didn't want it to be the easiest spot in the world. I wanted something in there to make him do a little something," Lake said.

Shake You Down had a five-race winning streak snapped in last month's Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga, when he finished fourth, 5 1/4 lengths behind longshot Private Horde. Before that, Shake You Down had won five consecutive races, including four graded stakes.

Though Shake You Down had handled sloppy tracks at Aqueduct and Belmont, Lake said the horse did not appear to care for the Saratoga slop.

"He came out of the race fantastic," Lake said. "He just didn't try - I got to think it was the track. I wanted to work him the Tuesday before the race, and the track was wet so I just galloped him. He came back like he never trained a day in his life. I blew him out a quarter of a mile two days before the race, and he couldn't blow out a match. After the race, he was blowing pretty hard. He didn't handle the track at all."

Sunday, Shake You Down drilled four furlongs in 46.21 seconds at Belmont, the fastest of 82 works at the distance.

Hook and Ladder, a multiple graded stakes winner, finished third in a classified allowance race at Saratoga. It was his first start since undergoing throat surgery following a disappointing return in April. With expected improvement, he could provide Shake You Down with a test.

Super Fuse, the only 3-year-old in the field, has won three listed stakes. He needs to rebound off a last-place finish in the Grade 2 Amsterdam. Papua, a talented New York-bred, makes his first start since finishing fourth behind Congaree in the Grade 1 Carter in April.

Trainer Richard Dutrow entered both Speed Hunter and Aggadan, but may run only one as he named Edgar Prado on both. Pinch Hitter, a third-level allowance winner at Saratoga, completes the field.