11/03/2003 12:00AM

Some stars need to race, not rest


NEW YORK - The connections of Shake You Down have the right idea. There is life after the Breeders' Cup, and if you have a horse who is in shape and in good form, why not race him again?

Shake You Down's third in the Breeders' Cup Sprint after a slow start was a solid performance. It was only his second start in more than two months, a schedule that would be draining on only the most fragile horses. There is a nice sprint (the De Francis Dash at Laurel) with a nice pot ($300,000) a week from Saturday in which Shake You Down will be heavily favored. So, why not go for it? And, if Shake You Down wins impressively, who knows? It might even help his Eclipse Award candidacy in a division that like most others this year is far from cut and dried.

Actually, there are a few other Breeders' Cup horses who should be considered for races again this year, not only for the nice purses but also to enhance their chances for divisional championships.

One who immediately comes to mind is Elloluv. She was a game second in the Breeders' Cup Distaff to the 40-1 upsetter Adoration, who also is scheduled to race again this year, in the Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park on Dec. 14. Elloluv's Distaff put her name with the many others for the 3-year-old filly championship, including Bird Town, Spoken Fur, and Island Fashion. Other possible 3-year-old filly champions are Six Perfections - who beat older males winning the Breeders' Cup Mile - and Composure, who was probably better than all of them but who suffered a career-ending injury in March.

If you can't beat older opponents in the Distaff, then finishing second to one is next best for a 3-year-old filly's Eclipse Award credentials. It was enough to clinch the title last year for Farda Amiga, but that's where the similarities end. Last year, Farda Amiga won the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama, and when she was second in the Distaff, she was second to an Azeri who was at the peak of her powers. Elloluv's big win this year was in the Ashland and she ran second to the lightly regarded Adoration in the Distaff.

If Elloluv's connections really want to strengthen her case for a championship, they should race her again this year. One possibility is the Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs on Thanksgiving Day. A victory in the Falls City would give Elloluv something that no other candidate in her division save Six Perfections could claim, and that's a stakes win over older opponents. And, another start this year by Elloluv would certainly be feasible. The Breeders' Cup Distaff was only her second start back off a near five-month layoff.

Although it won't happen - because Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella has already said it won't - Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Action This Day is another horse whose championship credentials would be helped by racing again this year.

Without the winners of the Champagne, Norfolk, Breeders' Futurity, and Hopeful stakes, Action This Day won what was universally acknowledged as the weakest Juvenile ever. Coming off just a slow maiden win, Action This Day was 26-1. And, despite getting the perfect setup of a hot, contested pace to rally into, Action This Day still ran slower than Halfbridled did winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at the same distance - and that after she was severely compromised by the 14-hole.

This is why Action This Day needs another win, and the Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 20 would be the spot to do it. The Juvenile was only Action This Day's third career start, and a Juvenile-Hollywood Futurity double would be hard for Eclipse Award voters to deny. But it's not in the cards.

On the other hand, Mandella is going to race one of his Breeders' Cup winners again this year, and that is Johar, who shared victory in the Turf with defending race and divisional champion High Chaparral. Johar is certainly fresh after missing much of the year because of a shoulder injury, but this is still an intriguing decision. Part of the intrigue is that Johar will have to cross the Pacific to make that start in the Japan Cup on Nov. 30, and part of it is the unusually unsettled nature of the male turf division.

The lack of a decisive victory in the Turf - it was a dead heat, after all - and the disappointing performance by Storming Home, even if it was injury related, has this division open for the taking. If Johar travels to Tokyo and defeats a strong international field in the Japan Cup, his credentials will suddenly be as strong as anyone's.

That is, of course, dependent on how much weight you feel victories outside the United States should have when it comes to determining Thoroughbred champions in the United States. But, that's a debate for another column.