01/22/2004 1:00AM

Sweet spot for Shake You Down to start '04


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Shake You Down and Valid Video, who first met three months ago in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, renew acquaintances on Saturday and take on five seemingly overmatched rivals in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream Park.

Shake You Down finished a game third despite breaking slowly and setting a contested pace in the Breeders' Cup. Valid Video was never a factor on Breeders' Cup Day, finishing 13th and coming out of the race with an injured stifle.

After the Breeders' Cup, Shake You Down finished second to A Huevo in the Grade 1 De Francis Memorial Handicap at Laurel before closing out his 2003 campaign with an easy victory in Aqueduct's Grade 3 Gravesend Handicap. Shake You Down concluded the year with seven victories, including four in graded stakes, and earnings in excess of $825,000.

Trainer Scott Lake, who claimed Shake You Down for owner Robert Cole Jr. for $65,000 in March, is hoping his horse gets off to a fast start in 2004.

"We felt this was a good place to begin the year," said Lake. "He's running for a $300,000 purse against lesser company than if we started him out in one of the open stakes."

Lake was hoping to give Shake You Down a target to run at in the Sprint, and he appears to have found one in the speedy Love My Mountain, who drew the rail.

"I think he's a little better horse when he has someone to run at," said Lake. "He doesn't have to be in front to win."

Mike Luzzi, Shake You Down's regular rider, will be down from New York to handle the assignment.

Valid Video, winner of Saratoga's Grade 1 King's Bishop in August, has trained smartly over the Classic Mile track in Ocala since recovering from his stifle injury. He has been training in much the same manner as he was before he won the Sunshine Millions Dash here last winter.

"I'm not sure he can beat a horse like Shake You Down, but you can bet he'll be right there," said trainer Dennis Manning.

Joe Bravo, who teamed up with Valid Video to win a pair of stakes, including the Kings Bishop, will be aboard again in the Sprint.

Pick'em and Green Team may have the best chances of pulling off the upset should the top pair falter.

Pick'em continues to improve with every start and is coming off a second-place finish behind Love That Moon in Calder's Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap. Green Team, the only California-bred in the field, was an impressive winner of the Cal Cup Sprint Handicap and possesses the proper running style to take advantage should a suicidal speed duel develop.