08/28/2003 12:00AM

Great Lakes: Secret Romeo on the fence

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MUSKEGON, Mich. - Reigning Michigan horse of the year Secret Romeo will be a heavy favorite when he faces seven statebred rivals in the Frontier Handicap at Great Lakes Downs. The 1 1/8-mile race offers a purse of $45,000.

Trainer Gerald Bennett said earlier this week that he was undecided whether Secret Romeo would run here or ship to Saratoga for Sunday's Grade 1 Forego Handicap.

"I'm still on the fence for that race," Bennett said, pondering the 900-mile trip.

The 5-year-old Secret Romeo last raced at Mountaineer Park, where he won the Arneault Memorial Handicap three weeks ago. In three local starts this year, Secret Romeo has been upset twice, and he is still looking for his first stakes win at home this season.

Secret Romeo finished fourth behind his stablemate, Goldinrunner, in the Michigan Breeders' Cup on July 19. Lite Up and American Deputy also finished ahead of Secret Romeo that day. All are back to do battle in the Frontier.

Secret Romeo, assigned 124 pounds, will be asked to concede five to 14 pounds to his opponents.

Trainer Bob Gorham has entered top 3-year-old Akatsakat along with American Deputy. They will be coupled in the wagering.