11/28/2003 1:00AM

Favorites unproven at distance


Although neither Appealing Secret nor Okie Style, the top two contenders in the $75,000 MEC Mile, is proven around two turns, they are imposing on class in Sunday's one-mile stakes for 2-year-olds that closes out the meet at Remington Park.

Okie Style has won stakes in his last three starts, while Appealing Secret has won his last two starts, including a stakes. They are part of a full field 12, with Okie Style having drawn the outside post.

Appealing Secret, a winner of 4 of 7 starts, captured the $35,000 Katy at Sam Houston Race Park on Nov. 8, one start after cruising to an 8 3/4-length win over $50,000 optional claimers at Louisiana Downs.

"He's a nice little horse," said Steve Asmussen, who owns and trains Appealing Secret. "He tries real hard."

Appealing Secret has made two starts around two turns, finishing fourth in an allowance and ninth in a stakes. But those races seem inconclusive with regard to his distance potential because both were held on turf.

"I'm hoping that's what it was," Asmussen said.

Instead, the trainer is looking to Appealing Secret's race in the Katy, run at seven furlongs, as an indicator whether he can be effective at longer distances.

"He laid off them," said Asmussen of Appealing Secret's early position in the Katy. "The race had a lot of speed in it, and that gave us the opportunity to let him settle and see if he [would] finish up."

Finish, he did. Appealing Secret put in a sweeping move to capture the Katy by a length. Jeremy Beasley has the return call in the MEC.

Okie Style has not made a wrong move of late, winning the $65,000 Iowa Stallion Futurity in August; the $43,000 Prairie Meadows Freshman in September; and the $35,000 Oklahoma Classics Day Juvenile for statebreds in his last out Sept. 27.

He stalked the pace in his last two starts, and that running style, as well as his pedigree - he is by Blumin Affair and out of a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Spit Curl - should serve him well as he makes his two-turn debut Sunday.

Don Pettinger has the mount for John and Kristine Richter and trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

Phantastic Secret is proven around two turns, having won his maiden by 4 1/4 lengths in his last start Sept. 26.

"We've sat on him to point him toward this," said C.R. Trout, who owns and trains Phantastic Secret. "He's a nice colt. He's got a lot of talent."

Other contenders are El Charro, a fast-closing second in the Katy, and Depop, a 16-length maiden winner earlier this meet.