07/30/2008 11:00PM

Knight's Secret faces hot one


AUBURN, Wash. - Knight's Secret will make a rare appearance at Emerald Downs on Saturday when he heads a field of 10 older $40,000 sprinters in the six-furlong feature.

Knight's Secret, a 6-year-old son of He's Tops who races for Leonard Strandley Jr., has made only four widely spaced starts since launching his career in April of 2005, but two of those starts were highly memorable. One was his maiden victory in October of 2005, when he sped six furlongs in 1:08 flat to win off by more than three lengths. He suffered a tendon injury after that race and underwent stem cell therapy, missing all of 2006.

Returning in June of last year, Knight's Choice uncorked another brilliant performance, running 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14.20 en route to a three-length victory. He came back in July to contest the 6 1/2-furlong Governor's Handicap, but he faded to fifth after contesting a scorching pace and emerged from that outing with yet another injury.

"It's the fast ones who are usually most fragile, and he is very, very fast," said trainer Sharon Ross. "He has been training really well this year, though, and I know he will run hard. I just hope he holds together."

Knight's Secret, a confirmed front -runner, will face stern pace opposition from the razor-sharp Olympic Lights. Trained by Charles Essex, the 4-year-old Olympic Lights is coming off back-to-back wins over lesser competition. He defeated $12,500 rivals by 1 1/2 lengths with six furlongs in 1:09.80 on June 28, then came back on July 13 to post a 10-length victory over $17,500 foes with six furlongs in 1:08.20. For his most recent effort, the rapidly improving Olympic Lights earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 95, easily the highest last-race Beyer in the field.

A fast and contested pace would appear to benefit Wild Cycle, a 4-year-old son of Free at Last who appears to be rounding back into form after a string of subpar efforts. Wild Cycle won stakes here for owner Frank Gaunt and trainer Aubrey Villyard at 2 and 3, but he was unplaced in three starts at the current meeting before being dropped to the $40,000 level in his last outing on July 19. Wild Cycle finished strongly to get second, beaten four lengths by Chickasaw Park after six furlongs in 1:09. He drew the outside post on Saturday, but Wild Cycle has produced his very best performances in the past while racing along the outside.