05/16/2007 11:00PM

Shuvee top two want dry track


ELMONT, N.Y. - A rainy Friday forecast and possible showers into Saturday could impact the 32nd running of the $150,000 Shuvee Handicap at Belmont Park. Two of the prime contenders in the Grade 2 mile for fillies and mares, Sugar Shake and Teammate, were off the board in a muddy edition of the Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont last year, and both have produced their top Beyer Speed Figures (100) on fast tracks.

After impressive front-running wins against maidens and first-level allowance fillies here last spring, Sugar Shake set a pressured pace and backed up to seventh in the CCA Oaks, which was an ambitious spot considering it was only her second start against winners and involved a stretch-out to 1 1/4 miles.

Sugar Shake had a light schedule through the rest of last year and returned to form, wiring a second-level allowance at Churchill Downs in November. She then raised her game considerably winning two starts at Santa Anita to begin her

4-year-old campaign, wiring the Grade 2 El Encino and the Grade 1 Santa Maria.

"I think she's a better filly now than she was last year," said trainer Bobby Frankel.

Sugar Shake spiked a fever and missed a scheduled start in the Santa Margarita in March, and will be coming off a 98-day layoff on Saturday. She was entered and scratched in the Grade 2 Louisville BC at Churchill on May 4. She had five workouts over Hollywood Park's Cushion Track in April, however, and on Monday she worked a crisp five furlongs in 59.64 seconds on Belmont's main track, the second-fastest of 35 works at the distance.

"She's pretty fit, she's got some good works in her," said Frankel, who would much prefer to see a fast track. "Her only bad race was in the mud."

Teammate was erratic as a 3-year-old, but her best races - seconds in the Alabama and Gazelle - were indicative of significant talent. Making her first start at 4 off a five-month layoff May 3, she pressed the pace in a seven-furlong allowance and finished determinedly to post a neck victory over Yachats.

"She had a harder time than I thought she would," said trainer Allen Jerkens, who will also saddle Swap Fliparoo as he looks for his fifth Shuvee victory. "But that filly she beat might be okay, too."

A wet track could boost the chances of Maryland shipper Silmaril, who is capable of triple-digit Beyers on any footing, and the New York-bred Rahys' Appeal. Rahys' Appeal won a sloppy Ticonderoga here as a 3-year-old, and was victimized by a slow pace set by Sugar Shake in the Santa Maria.