09/29/2005 11:00PM

Lady's Secret good spot for a fresh face

Email
Benoit & Associates
Hollywood Story will try for her first win away from Hollywood Park in Sunday's Grade 2 Lady's Secret.

ARCADIA, Calif. - At each stop on the Southern California racing circuit this year, a different horse has won the major race of the meet for older fillies and mares. Tarlow won the Santa Margarita Handicap at Santa Anita, Splendid Blended the Vanity at Hollywood Park, and Tucked Away the Clement Hirsch at Del Mar.

For various reasons, ranging from the mundane to the tragic, none are in the Grade 2, $250,000 Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sunday at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting. So, the big prize wheel will land on a different name yet again, only this time, a berth in the Oct. 29 Breeders' Cup Distaff could be in the offing.

The Lady's Secret drew a field of six, with such familiar names as Hollywood Story, Island Fashion, and Valentine Dancer heading the field. Each of those three has some appeal. was an unlucky loser of the Hirsch, and earlier this year overcame a brutal trip to win the Hawthorne Handicap. Island Fashion has finished first or second in 6 of 7 starts at Santa Anita and just missed in the Vanity. Valentine Dancer is rock-solid reliable, having finished in the money in all eight of her starts this year.

But all three have knocks, too. Hollywood Story has never won away from Hollywood Park. Island Fashion has not won a race since last year's Lady's Secret and seems overdue to tail off because of her aggressive management. Valentine Dancer has been most effective in races restricted to California-breds.

Any could jump up and win on their best day, but Healthy Addiction might be the right horse at the right time. She has won 3 of her last 4 starts, and is the only runner in the race to have recorded a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 or better this year. She would need to continue to improve and hope none of the big three fire their best, but that combination of factors is not unrealistic and makes Healthy Addiction a tempting play.

"She's a nice filly, and she's developing at the right time," said trainer John Sadler on Friday morning at Santa Anita. "The only bad race she's run recently was the Vanity, when she didn't like being pinned down inside."

No such worries on Sunday. Healthy Addiction drew post 5.

Hollywood Story was second and Valentine Dancer third in the Hirsch. Valentine Dancer has the speed to make a run for it from the rail.

"I'd prefer a target, but if it looks like a give-me, we might have to take it," said Craig Lewis, who trains Valentine Dancer. "I'd just rather not be the target."

Island Fashion has faced males four times in the past 19 months, including a trip to Japan last year and ninth-place finishes in the Santa Anita Handicap and Pacific Classic this year. She blew out sharply on Thursday, going three furlongs in 34.20 seconds.

"She's made of iron," said her trainer, Marcelo Polanco.