10/08/2002 11:00PM

Great Lakes Downs track report

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MUSKEGON, Mich. - Year-end championships in Michigan racing were all but finalized last weekend when the Michigan Sires Stakes were run.

Secret Romeo, the best Michigan-bred in training, finally won a Sire Stakes after having been denied the past two years. Secret Romeo looks to have a lock on the older male division as well as the state horse of the year title. Gerry Bennett, trainer of Secret Romeo, also saddled both juvenile winners, Monetary Star and Sailing Sal.

Sefas Rose is looking for a repeat as the top older female, while Sweetwater Promise has improved dramatically racing longer distances this season and should be the top 3-year-old filly. American Deputy figures to be the top 3-year-old colt.

Freddie Mata was aboard three of the six Sire Stakes winners. Besides Secret Romeo, Mata rode American Deputy and Monetary Star. With the three Sire Stakes victories, Mata has moved ahead of Terry Houghton in earnings at the meet, but still trails Houghton by 27 winners

Houghton, who is clinging to second place in wins in the national standings, has been idle since a spill here Aug. 25. Agent Frank Garoufalis said that Houghton is at home in the Detroit area recovering from the severe concussion he received that evening and may return to riding early next year at Tampa Bay Downs.

"He feels fine, but he needs more time," Garoufalis said.

* The track will be dark Monday, Columbus Day, but will run this Sunday at 5:25 p.m. Eastern and Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.