Favored Shake You Down put away Here's Zealous in the stretch and went on to win Saturday's $108,400 Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III) at Belmont Park in gate-to-wire fashion.
Ridden by Mike Luzzi, Shake You Down won for the third time in a row since being claimed for $65,000 by trainer Scott Lake and owner Robert Cole Jr. on March 12 at Aqueduct. The two prior victories for Lake and Coal came in classified allowance company on sloppy tracks at Aqueduct.
The 5-year-old Florida-bred gelded son of Montbrook stepped way up Saturday and won the six-furlong Bold Ruler over a strong field in a time of 1:08 2/5 on a fast track, defeating Here's Zealous by a length. Peeping Tom was third, four lengths farther back.
Starting quickly on the outside of the seven-horse line-up, Shake You Down bounced away to a solid lead on the backstretch while recording fractions of :22 for the opening quarter-mile, :44 3/5 for the half and :56 1/5 for five furlongs. Racing off the rail through the stretch, Here's Zealous and jockey John Veleazquez raced up on the inside to challenge for the lead, but could not match the winner in the run to the wire. Peeping Tom, the 3-1 second choice ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, rated in fourth and rallied past Say Florida Sandy in the stretch, but did not pose a threat to the first two.
"I was more worried about coming back on two weeks' rest, as opposed to catching a dry track with him," said Lake. "He answered a lot of questions today. I was real impressed with his effort. We took him (claimed him) because if he didn't improve, we could drop him back to $65,000. He's put on 150 pounds from then to now, and we will have to take a serious look at the ($250,000) True North Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II at six furlongs on June 7)."
Luzzi, making his first start on Shake You Down, was reminded of another horse he once rode.
"He's fast and gutsy," Luzzi said. "He's got both and that goes a long way. I rode his dad (Montbrook) and his dad used to run races similar to this one. I was a little concerned on the turn when Here's Zealous got close to us, but at the same time, I had a lot of horse left. He's quick, but it didn't feel like we were moving that fast."
Shake You Down, bred by the Ocala Stud Farm, won for the 10th time in 29 career starts while pushing his career bankroll to $313,760. His first graded stakes win was worth $65,040.
The winner paid $5.60, $3.70 and $2.60. Here's Zealous returned $4.80 and $2.80. Peeping Tom's show price was $2.60. The $2 exacta was worth $29.60.