02/28/2002 12:00AM

Forest Secrets or Summer Colony?


HALLADNALE BEACH, Fla. - What Saturday's $200,000 Rampart Handicap lacks in quantity it certainly makes up for in quality. Grade 1 Stakes winner Forest Secrets and win machine Summer Colony headline a field of six older fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream Park.

Forest Secrets won the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes in only the third start of her career last spring at Belmont Park. She closed out her 3-year-old campaign defeating Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Unbridled Elaine in Churchill Downs's Falls City Handicap.

Forest Secrets, who winters under the care of trainer John Ward Jr.'s wife, Donna, at the Palm Beach Downs training center, launched her 2002 campaign here on Feb. 8 in the Sabin Handicap, finishing second behind fellow Grade 1 winner Miss Linda.

"I was totally pleased with her performance in the Sabin and if she can run the same kind of race back in the Rampart we'll have accomplished what we wanted to accomplish in Florida this winter," said John Ward. "The fact Pat [Day] has had the opportunity to ride her once and get familiar with her should help our position a little bit on Saturday."

Summer Colony has won six straight races dating back to August when she began the streak with a spectacular 32-length victory at Saratoga. After easily running through her allowance conditions Summer Colony passed her first two class checks, winning Aqueduct's Grade 3 Ladies Handicap in her 3-year-old finale before shipping across country to win Santa Anita's Grade 2 La Canada Stakes in an upset on Feb. 9.

"Right now I'm not thinking about the winning streak but trying to seek out the best spots for her," said trainer Mark Hennig. "Ideally races around two turns going a mile and one eighth or over. [Jockey] Johnny [Velazquez] said she was still learning last fall and she still seems to be getting better with every race. I thought she was very professional the way she won in California."

Summer Colony will carry 118 pounds in the Rampart, one more than Forest Secrets. The remainder of the field is Castlebrook, Happily Unbridled, Lily's Affair, and Unbridled Waters, each of whom totes 111 pounds.

While the Rampart appears to be a two-horse race, Unbridled Waters has the right running style to take advantage of what figures to be an honest pace. She comes off her career best effort and second victory in three starts at Gulfstream.

"She likes the track and is doing very well now," said trainer John Kimmel. "I also think a mile and one eighth is an ideal distance for her."