Fast early, Robert L. Cole Jr.'s 7-5 favorite Shake You Down opened up a big lead in the stretch and held off a willing Where's the Ring in the closing yards to win the $150,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (gr. III) by a head at Oaklawn Park Thursday.
With Ramon Dominguez aboard for trainer Scott Lake, the 6-year-old chestnut gelding, carrying top weight of 121 pounds, overcame a slow start from his outside post in the field of six to quickly get a clear lead and get to the inside. He dictated the race from there, keeping things well under control until the late challenge from Where's the Ring and Don Pettinger, the longest shot on the board at 23-1.
Lake won his first race at Oaklawn.
The final time for the six-furlong heat was 1:09 1/5. Where's the Ring finished 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Aloha Bold. Skeet, the 19-10 second choice, finished fourth, with defending Count Fleet champion Beau's Town fifth.
Shake You Down, a Florida-bred by Montbrook
–Muvin Gway (by Rajab), set solid fractions of :21 4/5, :44 3/5 and :56 3/5 in building a 2 1/2-length advantage a furlong from home.
Winner of the True North Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) and third in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) last year, Shake You Down won for the 16th time in a 39-race career. He earned $90,000 for the victory, and now boasts total winnings of $1,255,060.
After taking the Sunshine Millions Sprint in January, he disappointed with a fifth-place finish behind the winning Skeet in the ungraded Hot Springs Handicap at Oaklawn March 21.
"We had a lot of excuses the last time," said Lake. "We got back to the barn and found one of the worst cases of mucous you'll ever see. He was really sick the last time."
In the rematch, Skeet raced last into the stretch after spotting the field a couple of lengths at the start. He dropped down inside for the stretch run and came on well to just miss third money by a neck.
Where's the Ring rated in third into the stretch, brushing Was My Case briefly before gathering himself for a strong finish. Aloha Bold outran Skeet in the stretch after being unhurried early.
Beau's Town was undefeated in five previous outings at Oaklawn. Within striking distance of the leader throughout, he faltered in the stretch.
"He didn't run his race," said trainer Cole Norman, "but the important thing is he came back fine."
Shake You Down paid $4.80, $3.80 and $2.80. Where's the Ring returned $9.20 and $4.20. Aloha Bold's show was $3.20.
Ocala Stud Farm bred Shake You Down.