02/06/2003 1:00AM

Giving weight shouldn't hurt 'Garden'


PHOENIX - Last week's Super Saturday program had three stakes races, and runners based in Southern California dominated the proceedings.

It could be more of the same this Saturday in the $50,000 Glendale Handicap, in which invader Secret Garden faces 10 fillies and mares. Secret Garden carries high weight of 121 pounds, conceding from three to 11 pounds to the opposition in the 1 1/16-mile turf race.

But it shouldn't matter. Secret Garden, trained by Simon Bray, had a solid English campaign before she ventured to Southern California for the Matiara Stakes last November. The race was washed off the turf, and was Secret Garden's first try on dirt. She finished a fine second, five lengths clear of third. A month later she got what she wanted - turf - and Secret Garden, a 4-year-old daughter of Danehill, responded smartly, pressing the pace and then pouncing in the stretch. She eventually edged away for a three-quarter-length win in the $80,000 optional claiming race.

She has been freshened since and figures very tough if on her game. Mark Johnston will ride.

Secret Garden's main opposition should come from Moonlit Maddie. Trained by Rolland Fergason, 5-year-old Moonlit Maddie comes off two losses, but those races came on dirt at Sunland and at 1 1/4 miles against tough competition at Santa Anita. This is a much better distance and level for Secret Garden, who has won 4 of 8 starts here.

* Century City, winner of the Turf Paradise Breeders' Cup Handicap, may run next in the Grade 2 Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita on March 1, according to trainer Beau Greely. In that race he could meet up with Good Journey, the winner of the Atto Mile and Citation Handicap last year.