11/02/2007 12:00AM

Sugar Shake stands out on the drop

EmailOZONE PARK, N.Y. - At the beginning of the year it looked as though Sugar Shake - not Ginger Punch - could give owner Frank Stronach and trainer Bobby Frankel an Eclipse Award contender in the distaff division.

But after graded stakes victories in January and February at Santa Anita, Sugar Shake's campaign stalled due to infirmities and other issues. Sugar Shake has made just three starts since February, most recently a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Spinster over Keeneland's Polytrack last month.

On Sunday, Sugar Shake takes a significant drop in class when she heads a field of six in the Grade 3, $100,000 Turnback the Alarm Handicap at Aqueduct. Sugar Shake, a 4-year-old daughter of Awesome Again, is the only graded stakes winner among the six set to run the 1 1/8 miles over the main track.

With daylight savings time beginning Sunday, first post changes to 12:30 p.m.

Though Sugar Shake was beaten 3 3/4 lengths by Panty Raid in the Spinster, Frankel felt she ran a good race after pressing the pace.

"That was a nice bunch of horses, much tougher than this," he said. "If she runs her race I think she'll be very tough to beat.'"

Sugar Shake's best weapon is her early speed, which she used to win the Grade 2 El Encino and Grade 1 Santa Maria at Santa Anita last winter. Breaking from post 5 under Javier Castellano, Sugar Shake will likely have to deal with pace challenges from either Peak Maria's Way or Folk, both of whom are drawn inside of her.

Peak Maria's Way, trained by Michael Gorham, comes off a front-running victory in the Just a Kiss Stakes at Delaware on Oct. 13. Folk, a 10 1/4-length maiden winner over this track as a 2-year-old, has not raced since finishing last in the Alabama at Saratoga on Aug. 18.

With all the speed in this field, the race could set up nicely for Altesse or Victory Pool. Altesse, trained by Shug McGaughey, has been a pace-presser in many of her starts. She may benefit from settling farther off the pace and making a run under John Velazquez.

Victory Pool returns to dirt after running well in two starts over the Tapeta surface at Presque Isle Downs. But she could be suspect at the distance.