Chalk players could receive an early Christmas present from trainer Scott Lake, who entered his sensational sprinter Shake You Down in Sunday's $100,000 Gravesend Handicap (gr. III) at six furlongs. For the six opposing trainers, however, the presence of Shake You Down is not a gift. It's a lump of coal.The Gravesend, the last graded stakes in New York this year, is the featured eighth race on a nine-race card that begins at 12:30 p.m. Eastern. Racing at Aqueduct will take a brief, four-day hiatus for Christmas following Sunday's card and will return on Dec. 26.It has been more than nine months since Shake You Down rose from the claiming ranks to become one of the nation's leading sprinters. A 5-year-old son of Montbrook, he was claimed by Lake and owner Robert Cole Jr. out of a high-priced inner track claiming race on March 12 and has since gone on to win three graded stakes and more than $700,000. Thanks to an uncanny turn of foot he unleashes midway through his races, Shake You Down has a tendency to punish fellow speed horses. He will likely lead the Gravesend through backstretch run."He's one of the best horses I've ever seen at three quarters," said trainer Pat Reynolds, who hopes to pull off an upset with the venerable Peeping Tom.Shake You Down, who drew post 4 under regular rider Mike Luzzi, is out to snap a two-race win streak in the Gravesend, although his recent losses have come in grade I company. Two starts back, Shake You Down broke slow, rushed up and dueled through fractions of :21 and :43 1/5 in the Breeders' Cup Sprint before finishing a more-than-respectable third. In his most recent start, Shake You Down was run down by A Huevo in the Nov. 15 DeFrancis Dash at Laurel after dueling through a torrid pace while giving weight to the entire field."I think his last two efforts were real good," said Lake, who is leading all trainers nationally in races won this year. "To finish third in the Breeders' Cup after the trip he had shows how good he really is."He bobbled out of the gate at Laurel and was run down by a horse who ran a huge race. I don't want to take anything away from A Huevo, but I think Shake You Down is a better horse."Shake You Down, the 124-pound high weight, spots his foes eight to 14 pounds. Gators N Bears was a nose behind Shake You Down when finishing third in the DeFrancis Dash. His trainer, Leo Nechamkin, said he is looking forward to taking on Shake You Down again."(Shake You Down) is picking up a pound, so there goes the nose he had on us at Laurel," Nechamkin said. "These two horses are extremely talented sprinters. I think both of them are going to run big races."Gators N Bears, the lone 3-year-old in the Gravesend lineup, is out to improve upon his seasonal record of 5-3-3 from 12 starts and career earnings of nearly $291,000. A durable son of Stormy Atlantic, Gators N Bears has afforded the Laurel-based Nechamkin, who currently has five horses in training, a chance to compete in stakes throughout the mid-Atlantic circuit."It's been a wonderful experience," Nechamkin said. "He's a horse that tries hard every time and he's a pleasure to train. He loves looking another horse eye-to-eye. He loves stalking horses."Gators N Bears, who gets nine pounds from Shake You Down at 115, drew post 3 under jockey Rick Wilson.
Flatbird Stable's Peeping Tom is the only grade I winner in the field. A former maiden claimer, he ran fifth as the 138-pound highweight in the Fall Highweight Handicap on Thanksgiving. $100,000-added Gravesend Handicap (gr. III), 3 & up, 6 furlongs
PP. HORSE, TRAINER, JOCKEY, WGT.
1. Way to the Top, Bruce Levine, Javier Castellano, 114
2. Presidentialaffair, Martin Ciresa, Aaron Gryder, 116
3. Gators N Bears, Leo Nechamkin, Rick Wilson, 115
4. Shake You Down, Scott Lake, Mike Luzzi, 124
5. Black Silk, Laurie LaFavers, Pablo Fragoso, 120
6. Papua, Mike Hushion, Richard Migliore, 114
7. Peeping Tom, Patrick Reynolds, Shaun Bridgmohan, 116