05/28/2003 11:00PM

Fast learner In Secure faces test


CHICAGO - When she ran in a schooling race late this winter at Fair Grounds, the unraced filly In Secure resembled her mother, Morelia.

Morelia could run, no question, but for most of her career she knew only a couple of gears - fast and faster - and her effectiveness decreased with every stride past six furlongs.

In Secure had the same look. In that schooling race, she dashed off to a big lead, tired, and was passed in deep stretch. But that was practice.

In two actual races, nobody has passed In Secure yet, and while her mother began learning to rate after two seasons, In Secure is figuring it out after two races.

On Saturday, nine other 3-year-old fillies will test the extent of In Secure's learning curve in the $75,000 Real Delight Stakes. Only the second stakes of the meet, the six-furlong Real Delight anchors the most compelling card of Arlington's season. Also on the menu are a competitive overnight stakes for statebreds, three allowance races, and an interesting maiden field.

In Secure was a maiden less than two months ago. She won her April 12 debut at Hawthorne by a half-length and an overnight stakes by almost four two weeks later.

"I think she's just been green, but she's so talented that she's won anyway," said Lara Van Deren, assistant to trainer Louie Roussel, who owned Morelia, bred In Secure, and owns her in partnership with Ronnie Lamarque. "Since the second race, she's starting to think about what she's doing. She's galloping relaxed with a very long rein. Before, she had wanted to take off every time a horse came up to her in the morning. Now, she'll just take a look."

If In Secure is learning to ration her speed, it's a good time. Pace horses fill the Real Delight, and it will be tough for any of them to win on the lead.

Fast Cookie has front-end speed herself, but in several starts she has been willing to let the leaders go and make her move later. It's a strategy that can succeed Saturday. A close third May 1 in the Grade 3 La Troienne, Fast Cookie ships in from trainer Bill Mott's Churchill string, overseen this year by Ken McCarthy instead of Ralph Nicks, who has become a jockey agent.

Fast Cookie, who races with blinkers for just the second time, has posted three workouts since the La Troienne and gets the services of Rene Douglas, who won the only previous stakes this meet and dominated stakes racing here last season.