03/14/2002 12:00AM

Ask Me No Secrets owns class edge


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Even though she gives up experience to all of her rivals, Ask Me No Secrets faced company in her last race that points her out as the horse to beat in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup at Oaklawn Park.

The 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares is the final local prep for the Grade 1 Apple Blossom, and for the first time it will share a program with the Grade 3, $100,000 Razorback Handicap, a race that will produce starters for the Grade 1, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap.

Both the Apple Blossom and Oaklawn Handicap will be run April 6.

Ask Me No Secrets finished third, beaten two lengths by Summer Colony, in the Grade 2 La Canada at Santa Anita on Feb. 9. The second-place finisher in that race, Azeri, returned last Sunday to win the Grade 1, $300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap, beating Spain.

Trainer David Hofmans said the Apple Blossom is his goal for Ask Me No Secrets, who will be ridden Saturday by Mike Smith. Ask Me No Secrets, a 4-year-old filly who has won two of her four career starts, figures to take the field a long way on the front end.

Ask Me No Secrets's chief rivals include Descapate, who romped by seven lengths last out in the $150,000 Chou Croute Handicap at Fair Grounds for trainer Steve Asmussen, and Caressing, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2000 who has won 5 of 13 starts and $881,410. The field is completed by Search Party, a Shug McGaughey-trained mare who will be making her final career start before being bred, and Red n'Gold, five-length winner of the $50,000 Pippin Stakes here Feb. 16 for trainer Bob Holthus.

Caressing, who has trained well at Oaklawn for her first race since November, figures to be within striking distance of Ask Me No Secrets, as well as Descapate and Red n'Gold, who figure to be stalking the pace.

"I expect her to be laying pretty close to the pace," said Caressing's trainer, David Vance. said.

Caressing appears primed for a top effort. She has been training extremely well here this meet, and is a fresh horse, having been given a break from racing after finishing sixth, beaten four lengths by Forest Secrets, in the Grade 3 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 22. Forest Secrets defeated Summer Colony by three lengths in the recent Rampart Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

Vance has James Lopez riding Caressing.

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