04/08/2002 12:00AM

Guppie's big fish in small pond


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - The "B" team takes the stage Wednesday at Oaklawn Park in the $75,000 Northern Spur Stakes. The one-mile race is usually for 3-year-olds who aren't ready to advance to the Grade 2, $500,000 Arkansas Derby on Saturday, and has drawn a well-matched field of 11.

Guppie's Secret is one of three colts trainer Lynn Whiting has entered in the Northern Spur, but because he is training so sharply, Guppie's Secret will also be entered in the Arkansas Derby on Wednesday.

"He may well be seen in the Arkansas Derby," said Whiting.

Whiting said Guppie's Secret will run in the Northern Spur if he is excluded from the Arkansas Derby.

Guppie's Secret, third to eventual San Felipe winner Medaglia d'Oro in a maiden race here Feb. 9, will be one to reckon with if he starts in the Northern Spur. Purchased privately by Rising Graph Stable last month and turned over to Whiting, he has trained smartly, working a bullet six furlongs in 1:13.60 on April 3.

"He's got a nice look about him," said Whiting. "He's a smooth-traveling horse, and it seems like he's got a little upside. I think he's going to move forward."

Whiting, who has won 2 of the 11 runnings of the Northern Spur, will also send out Cope With an Image and Missme in the race. In his last start, Cope With an Image finished second, beaten a neck by Paloma Parilla, in the second division of the $75,000 Southwest Stakes. It was 1 1/4 lengths back in third to Windward Passage, who in his next start won the Grade 3, $100,000 Rebel.

"Cope With an Image is a rather useful sort," said Whiting. "He was razor sharp on the racetrack this morning, and I expect him to run well."

Missme, Whiting said, is an overachiever. "He seems to show up and run hard every time," said Whiting.

Cojet figures to dictate the pace in the Northern Spur, and will add blinkers after drifting out in an allowance race March 28. He will be fitted with an extension on his right blinker cup, and responded to the equipment change Saturday, drilling a bullet three furlongs in 34 seconds.

"He worked awful good, and [jockey Joe Johnson] was pleased with how he could handle him," said Holthus.

Adding depth to the field are the Steve Asmussen-trained Interminable Gold and Faxamillion, as well as Thunderpumper, a full brother to multiple stakes winner Nickel Classic. Thunderpumper earned a 95 Beyer Speed Figure last out for his maiden win at Oaklawn

Also in the race is $75,000 Crescent City Derby winner Screen Idol.

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