09/11/2003 12:00AM

Shake You Down romps


ELMONT, N.Y. - Shake You Down rebounded from his fourth-place finish at odds-on in last month's Grade 2 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap with a front-running, 5 3/4-length victory in a classified allowance race Thursday at Belmont Park.

The race was Shake You Down's final prep before the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

Under regular rider Mike Luzzi, Shake You Down ($3) was outfooted early by Hook and Ladder, before engaging and passing that rival entering the far turn. Shake You Down ran fractions of 21.94 seconds, 44.48, and 56.24 and covered six furlongs in 1:08.62 over a fast track.

"Couldn't have written a better script if you were writing a Hollywood movie,'' trainer Scott Lake said. "He was awesome doing it. That's exactly what we were looking for and hopefully our next stop will be the Breeders' Cup."

Last year, the Lake-trained Thunderello finished a close second in the Sprint to Orientate.

Shake You Down was among the top sprinters in the country after five straight victories, including three in graded stakes. But, Shake You Down finished fourth in the Vanderbilt over a sloppy Saratoga track.

Thursday, Lake said he loved seeing Shake You Down sitting off Hook and Ladder early on.

"This horse is a much better horse when he's got something to look at for the first eighth or first quarter of a mile,'' Lake said. "When he sees something in front of him for that first part of it he starts dragging the jock out of the saddle and punishes the horse that's on the lead.''

Said Luzzi: "That's him. He didn't break real sharp and then he grabbed me. You can see during the race I had them."

Lake said he would like to ship Shake You Down to California around Oct. 7 and get a workout or two over Santa Anita's main track.

Feline Story tries added distance

The defection of Whoopi Cat from Sunday's Grade 1, $200,000 Matron, has prompted trainer Stanley Hough to wheel multiple stakes winner Feline Story back just two weeks after her last race.

Feline Story returns following a 5 3/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Sorority at Monmouth Park on Aug. 30. Overall, Feline Story is 3 for 4, including a victory in the Astoria Stakes at Belmont in June.

The Matron is run at one mile. Feline Story has not run farther than six furlongs.

"Most of her races have been a month part,'' Hough said. "I'm not sure about the distance with her. I like the way she ran last time, she kind of came from off the pace in the Sorority. It was encouraging. A flat mile is easier than a mile and a sixteenth and the Frizette is going to come up a tougher race.''

Hough said Jerry Bailey would ride Feline Story for the first time.

Trainer Todd Pletcher may run as many as three horses in the Matron, but not Ashado, the undefeated winner of the Schuylerville and Spinaway Stakes. Pletcher is considering running Lokoya, Marylebone, and Sisti's Pride. Also expected to run are Eye Dazzler and Stand on Top. Ana's Lady Bird, Charming Humor, Dixie Waltz, and Funny Honey are possible.

Empire Maker losing training time

Trainer Bobby Frankel said a blood test for Empire Maker did not show any infection, and the trainer hoped to be able to take the Belmont Stakes winner back to the track on Friday morning. Still, Frankel is not sure Empire Maker can make the Jockey Club Gold Cup here on Sept. 27.

Empire Maker did not train on Thursday, the third consecutive day he did not train, according to Frankel.

"I'm leaning toward it being an allergy,'' Frankel said. "If it was an infection, the white count would have been different. He coughed a little bit this morning. The stuff I'm giving is making him cough the [stuff] up."

Frankel said he wouldn't know for another week whether Empire Maker can make the Gold Cup. Frankel said he'd like to be able to get two works into Empire Maker before the race.

"Physically, I think he's good,'' Frankel said. "I just don't want him to get sick. He'll jog Friday, gallop a few days, then I'll breeze him.''

Mandy's Gold to miss Floral Park

Mandy's Gold is still bothered by a bruised left front foot, which is why she was not entered in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Floral Park Handicap.

Mandy's Gold has not run since finishing fifth in the Delaware Handicap on July 20. She suffered the bruise while training at Saratoga for the Grade 1 Ballerina. Mandy's Gold had been entered in last Saturday's Endine Stakes at Delaware Park but was scratched.

"We're trying to get her right,'' trainer Michael Gorham said.

Congrats, Saarland work together

Trainer Shug McGaughey worked Saarland and Congrats in company Thursday over Belmont's main track. The McGaughey duo finished on even terms, covering five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.94. They galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.60.

McGaughey, who doesn't usually work Saarland and Congrats together, wanted to have the colts on their toes.

"I wanted to get them into the bridle," McGaughey said. "They went very nice."

Saarland is coming off a sixth-place finish in the Grade 3 Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park on Aug. 23. He was beaten 10 1/2 lengths by the winner, Tenpins.

McGaughey said Saarland bled in the Iselin.

"It compromised his chances," McGaughey. "It looks like he is over it now."

McGaughey said a possible schedule for Saarland this fall is the $400,000 Meadowlands Cup on Oct. 3, followed by the $150,000 Fayette at Keeneland on Oct. 25, and then the $350,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 29.

In addition to winning an allowance race this year, Saarland finished second in both the Westchester and Metropolitan Mile.

In Congrats's last start on Aug. 23 at Saratoga, he finished fifth in the Travers, beaten 18 1/2 lengths by Ten Most Wanted. McGaughey said he would look for an allowance race when the new condition book comes out for Congrats's next race.

"I was disappointed in his Travers," McGaughey said. "It set up right for him, but he didn't finish. He's a better horse than that."

In Thursday's third race, the McGaughey-trained A Great Team, a 3-year-old son of A. P. Indy, romped to a three-length win in an allowance race.

Options for Lunar Sovereign

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin hasn't settled on a next race for Lunar Sovereign, who became a Grade 1 winner in last Saturday's Man o' War.

McLaughlin said the $750,000 Turf Classic Invitational on Sept. 27 at Belmont, where Lunar Sovereign is undefeated in four starts, is an option, as is the $1.5 million Canadian International at Woodbine on Oct. 19.

If Lunar Sovereign ran in the Canadian International, he would miss the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita six days later. McLaughlin said there is a better chance that Lunar Sovereign would get the soft ground he prefers at Woodbine, rather than at Santa Anita.

"He's a very nice horse and obviously loves Belmont," said McLaughlin, who trains Lunar Sovereign for Darley Stable. "The Turf Classic is three weeks from the time he won and, ideally speaking, we might want to give him six or seven weeks to his next race."

* Jockey Eibar Coa was fined $100 by the stewards for lodging a frivolous claim of foul after the running of last Saturday's sixth race at Belmont. Coa was aboard Western Rush, who finished second to Flawless Diamond. Coa alleged there was a bump when Flawless Diamond drifted in a step, but the two horses never hit each other.

* The stewards also fined jockey Julio Pezua $200 for failing to appear for a movie session on Wednesday after the stewards had requested his appearance. The stewards almost always review every disqualification the next racing day after there has been a disqualification or objection. There were two disqualifications on Sunday, and Pezua was involved in a third incident in which the stewards disallowed a claim of foul against him.

* Tony Micallef began booking mounts for jockey Jose Espinoza at the start of the Belmont fall meet.

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson