Sugar Shake seeks her fourth graded stakes victory of the year Saturday in the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II).

Sugar Shake seeks her fourth graded stakes victory of the year Saturday in the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II).

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Sugar Shake Top Threat in Bayakoa

Sugar Shake goes for her fourth graded stakes this year Dec. 1 at Hollywood Park.

Frank Stronach’s Sugar Shake seeks her fourth graded stakes victory of the year Dec. 1, as she leads a field of seven in the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II), a 1 1/16-mile test for fillies and mares on the Hollywood Cushion Track.

The field also includes three European contenders and multiple graded stakes winner Tough Tiz’s Sis. But it is clear that Sugar Shake, a 4-year-old daughter of Awesome Again , is the one to beat.

Trained by Bobby Frankel, Sugar Shake has raced six times this year, all in graded stakes competition. She began the campaign by winning the El Encino (gr. II) and Santa Maria Handicap (gr. I), both in front-running fashion at Santa Anita.

Sugar Shake was moved east after that. On May 19 she took second in the Shuvee Handicap (gr. II), missing by a half-length to Teammate, and then placed fourth in the Personal Ensign (gr. I) and Spinster (gr. I), tiring in both.

Bred in Kentucky by Adena Springs, Sugar Shake returned to her winning ways in her last start, a two-length score in the 1 1/8-mile Turnback the Alarm Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct. Like all six of her career wins, it came in gate-to-wire fashion.

Sugar Shake has never tried Cushion Track, and only one of her lifetime starts has come on an artificial surface. She breezed four furlongs in 48.40 at Hollywood on Nov. 27.

Out of the Skip Trial mare Skipping Around, Sugar Shake draws post two and will carry a co-high weight of 120 pounds with Rafael Bejarano in the saddle. In 1983, Frankel saddled Bayakoa winner Sweet Diane.

A 3-year-old daughter of Tiznow , Tough Tiz’s Sis ran one of her best races on the Cushion Track earlier this year, taking the Hollywood Breeders’ Cup Oaks (gr. II) by 3 1/2 lengths. In fact, both of her graded stakes scores have come over Cushion Track. On Oct. 7 she won the Lady’s Secret (gr. I) at Santa Anita, getting up by a nose over Hystericalady.

Trained by Bob Baffert, Tough Tiz’s Sis is coming off a seventh-place finish in the Oct. 27 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I). But like many who did not fare well that day, the effort can excused because of the extremely sloppy conditions at Monmouth Park.

Also carrying 120 pounds, Tough Tiz’s Sis will get Garret Gomez for the first time.

A trio of foreign-bred horses – Fonce De, Grain of Truth and Sohgol – will each be looking for their first graded stakes win in the Bayakoa.

Fab Oak Stables’ Fonce De has raced mainly in France before coming to California this year. The 5-year-old mare by Smadoun was off for nine months before finishing fourth in a stakes at Santa Anita last month.

Darley Stable’s Grain of Truth shipped from England earlier in the year and has raced twice on American soil. Her last start was a 2 3/4-length victory Oct. 11 in allowance competition over the Keeneland Polytrack.

"She's been training well but this is a big step up," said trainer Eoin Harty. "She ran well at Keeneland but this is different company."

Irish-bred Sohgol has raced mainly in California for the past two years, but has placed in only one of five graded stakes starts and has not won in 2007.

Completing the field are hard-closing Lavender Sky and Romance is Diane, who is coming off a 6 1/4-length win in the Nov. 3 Cal Cup Matron Handicap and is expected to contest the early pace.

$150,000 Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II, Race 8, 4:05 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Cushion Track)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Lavender Sky (KY), 110, Alex O. Solis
2. Sugar Shake (KY), 120, Rafael Bejarano
3. Sohgol (IRE), 114, Joseph Talamo
4. Romance Is Diane (CA), 115, Michael C. Baze
5. Tough Tiz's Sis (KY), 120, Garrett K. Gomez
6. Fonce De (FR), 114, Tyler Baze
7. Grain of Truth (GB), 113, Corey S. Nakatani